Ten students at Columbus State University recently served as interns on the set of “The Long Night”, an action thriller produced by Randall Emmett and George Furla and starring Bruce Willis. Executive producer Alex Eckert worked with the university to place the students on the production.
“We were pleased to be the first film project to secure funding from the newly created Columbus Film Fund and to offer this valuable opportunity for students at CSU to earn course credit, while also gaining real world experience in film production,” Eckert said.
Student interns were enrolled in CSU’s COMM 2498 GFA internship course, earning them six credit hours. Some of the students are pursuing communication degrees with a concentration in film production, while others are working towards their film production certificate. Internships ranged from two weeks to a full month, with students receiving experience in a variety of tasks crucial to the industry.
“I got to do everything from locations to picking up talent from the airport and moving them to their trailers, lighting, running sides and call sheets,” said Matthew Westlake, a junior communication major at CSU. “It was a bunch of controlled chaos, but the best chaos I’ve ever been a part of.”
Westlake’s internship ran for ten days, typically working for 13 hours at a time. He says his former career in the Marines helped prepare him for the long hours and discipline needed to follow through on orders. With an interest in writing, directing, and producing, he says one of his favorite parts of the internship was seeing how the writers had to rewrite the script to account for unexpected weather.
“They are such professionals, even the weather couldn’t hold them back,” said Westlake.
Another student, Nicole “Poppy” Hardaway, spent her internship in the production and accounting offices. As a marketing major earning her film certificate, she was able to see the business and logistics side of the film industry.
“I like to be organized, so I enjoyed working with the line producer. It was a lot of organization. They handle issues as they occur, manage budgeting and scheduling. They have to know a little bit about everything,” said Hardaway. “The knowledge that I have received in this internship has prepared me and given me the confidence to go out there and pursue more opportunities.”
“The interns were a tremendous asset to our production. They were dependable, productive, diligent, and tenacious team players. Always on time, ready to assist, and taking on the challenges set before them. They showed up and showed out. We were very proud of them,” said Gilda Longoria, production supervisor, for “The Long Night”.
“The interns went above and beyond every expectation set for them,” added Patrick Dugger, production coordinator. “They were a blessing.”
The internship opportunity came at an exciting time for CSU’s Georgia Film Academy. In the past year, CSU has been approved for the state’s first ever nexus degree in film and production. With CSU’s film program having a new home at Flat Rock Studio, more internship opportunities are expected as the university trains professionals for the booming industry.
“Local 479 values the relationship we have with the Georgia Film Academy and their partnership with Columbus State University,” said Mike Akins, business agent for Local 479 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE). “We believe that gaining hands-on experience is a valuable part of the education process and partnering with the GFA’s internship program provides this important opportunity to their students. We look forward to continuing our collaboration and doing our part to help these students get the experience they need to determine their future careers.”