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Cinematic arts students showcase skills on movie sets this summer

Liberty University Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center student Emily Price (center) was the director’s assistant for the film “Like a Country Song,” starring (left) Joel Smallbone (lead singer of for King & Country) and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Eight Liberty University Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center students had the unique opportunity to work as interns on two different movie sets this summer.

Two students worked on the set of “Like a Country Song,” filmed in Nashville, Tenn., starring Billy Ray Cyrus and Joel Smallbone (a lead singer in the Christian rock band for King & Country and younger brother of Christian recording artist Rebecca St. James). The film was directed by Johnny Remo.

Senior Emily Price was Remo’s assistant and Jonathan Current, also a Liberty senior, worked with the film’s production and sound team as a boom (microphone) operator.

Six students worked on a new movie from Affirm Films (a faith/family-friendly label of Sony Pictures), “Moms’ Night Out,” a comedy filmed in Birmingham, Ala., and starring Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) and Sean Astin (“Lord of the Rings,” “Rudy”). It is directed by John and Andy Irwin (“October Baby”).

On the set, the Liberty interns quickly caught the eye of the department heads and most were offered paid positions by the middle of production. Some of the students mirrored the directing team, providing logistics support through dispersing script changes, coordinating actors for hair and makeup to and from set, and quieting the set for shooting. Other students worked in the grip and electric department helping to light the various shots, while others aided in the special effects departments with stunt coordination.

Liberty students assist on the set of the film “Moms’ Night Out.”

Junior Sarah Zimmer worked many jobs, including Heaton’s stand-in. She said she is grateful to Liberty for the experience.

“If I was not involved in this program (Liberty’s cinematic arts program), I would not have the important contacts that I have accumulated, and I would not have the work ethic and set etiquette that is required for any feature film,” Zimmer said.

Seth Houser also worked on the set of “Moms’ Night Out.”

“Because we had just come off of our first film set (at Liberty), my fellow film students and I had no trouble transitioning at all. We were actually able to help teach some of the other interns on set how things worked on a movie,” he said. “I am so blessed to have already worked on two feature-film sets without having graduated yet. Liberty’s film school is doing things the way film school should be done. I have connections in the industry that will help me get a job right out of college and that is something that not every college student gets.”

Liberty students at the wrap party for “Moms’ Night Out,” celebrating their hard work and success on the set: (from left, back row) Andrew Eckoff, Seth Houser, Kristin Taylor, (front) Austin Lewis, Ian Miller, and Sarah Zimmer.

Senior Ian Miller worked in the grip department, a position under the director of photography.

“It was a stretching, growing, and all-around great experience being able to work for and alongside professionals who have been in the film industry for a long time,” Miller said. More importantly, this experience has helped me know I am on the right path for a satisfying future.”

“Mom’s Night Out” will release in 2014.

The students on both sets agreed they felt prepared for the professional field after having completed work on the set of “Letting Go,” the cinematic arts program’s first full-length feature film, this past spring. The movie was produced by the cinematic arts department in collaboration with EchoLight Studios, a world-class Christian film studio that Liberty recently partnered with in a five-year, multimillion-dollar agreement.

  • Liberty’s Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center officially launched last year. Students accepted as cinema arts majors enter an immersion program their junior year, in which they are devoted solely to their filmmaking academia. Every graduate of Liberty’s cinematic arts program will graduate with a completed screenplay, a business plan to market and fund it, a short film they have written and directed, and real-world career experience, including a feature-film credit and work with industry veterans.
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