CCI Alumni Help Create Newest "The Fast and the Furious" Installment

"Fast 8," the newest installment of "The Fast and the Furious" franchise, hits theaters in spring 2017, after filming on the streets of Cleveland this summer. JMC alumni Anastasia Eliopoulos, Buddy Candela and Dylan Bartolovich helped make filming possible by working on set as production assistants.

The alumni all majored in digital media production (DMP) and perfected their craft on film sets created by Kent State University Independent Films (KSUIF). Through their networking and previous experience in the film industry, all three were able to land positions working on the film. Every day on set was different, they said.

“An average day on set was different than anything I have ever done before,” Bartolovich said. “They were long 14-16 hour days, beginning around 5 a.m."

The production assistants (PAs) would start their day by reporting to the Key Production Assistant before driving to set. Each PA is given a specific duty to carry out through the day, Bartolovich said. One of his duties was assisting with lockups.

“Lockups are when PAs basically own a corner of the public and make sure pedestrians are cleared and safe before any take. It takes a lot of communication and patience to deal with confused pedestrians for 14 hours,” Bartolovich said. “For the most part, everyone in Cleveland I met on the streets was just as excited 'Fast 8' was in town as I was. That was really cool to see.”

Bartolovich’s favorite memory of working on set this summer was being able to witness all of the action sequences first-hand.

“The effort, money, safety and preparation that went into those stunts was remarkable," Bartolovich said. "Cars going on two wheels through public parks, scaffolding falling on top of car chases, NYC police and taxis smashing into each other and Lambos flying off parking garages was defiantly something to see. It was so crazy because the shots needed were definitely a one-and-done type of thing. Once a car blew up or smashed through a bus stop, that really couldn't be done again.”

Eliopoulos credits her experience at Kent for preparing her to be a part of the crew.

“If it wasn't for Traci Williams and Dave Smeltzer's film classes and Kent State [University] Independent Films, I wouldn't have been as prepared for film sets as I am today," Eliopoulos said. “With all the short films I've worked on and being hired on as the unit production manager for KSUIF's fourth feature length film, 'Unlucky,' I was able to see how all the parts of a film finally come together and applied that knowledge to the professional film sets.”

Eliopoulos, Candela and Bartolovich all credited KSUIF with preparing them for the professional world. The organization gave them the opportunity to experience first-hand what it takes to work on a film set. KSUIF produces a student-made feature-length film every other year. The students follow the film process through its completion, from writing the script to hosting the premiere.

“I applied a lot of skills that I learned from working with KSUIF,” Candela said. “I learned what the job entailed, so I was prepared to actually do the job on a professional level. KSUIF also taught me about the chain of command, set etiquette and got me used to being on my feet for 12-14 hours every day.”

Working on "Fast 8" allowed the DMP alumni a chance to gain experience and learn more about the world of film.

“I've only been in the film industry for less than 6 months, and I've learned not only how the industry works, but I've learned about myself as a whole,” Eliopoulos said. “I've learned that it takes a certain kind of person and personality to be able to withstand working on sets. It's a job that requires a lot of patience, and when the going gets rough, you don't have a frown on your face but rather a smile.”

Candela advises current students to get involved in KSUIF early in their college careers.

“I would advise that all students who are interested in film get involved with KSUIF as soon as possible, because they will teach you what it's like to work on a film and prepare you for your professional career," Candela said. "They teach you the skills that you can’t learn in a classroom.”

To learn more about KSUIF and how to get involved visit:

POSTED: Wednesday, September 7, 2016 12:48 PM
Updated: Thursday, December 8, 2022 07:17 PM