Students Gain Film Production Experience on Set of 'The Bye Bye Man'
Kent State students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) recently took their learning outside of the classroom and to set of the thriller movie, “The Bye Bye Man.”
Five students and alumni from JMC and the College of Communication and Information - many of the members of Kent State Independent Films (KSUIF) - played various roles, from extra to production assistant. The movie, which premiered last month (January 2017) was filmed in Cleveland in November 2015.
The casting company reached out to JMC senior lecturer Traci Williams, encouraging students to apply to be extras. Senior digital media production major Erica Collins, now president of Kent State University Independent Films (KSUIF), jumped on the opportunity, and was selected to play a student in a classroom scene.
“I did that and ended up being placed right next to Lucien Laviscount, who plays ‘John’ in the film,” Collins said. “That was a cool experience.”
Collins said meeting Laviscount, one of the film's lead actors, was the most exciting part.
JMC alumna Anastasia Eliopoulos was a fifth-year senior studying electronic media production and vice president for KSUIF at the time. When Eliopoulos heard “The Bye Bye Man” would be filming in Cleveland, she reached out to one of the film’s assistant directors about interning on set.
Eliopoulos was accepted to intern as a production assistant for three days of filming. The most exciting part for her was working with an "amazing" cast and crew to produce a feature film.
She and Collins agree that the skills they learned in JMC and through the digital (formerly electronic) media production major helped them in various ways.
Collins said she was prepared to act professionally on set and stay out of the way of busy crew members.
Eliopoulos specifically noted courses in script writing and production. These classes, she said, helped her learn how to read a call sheet, the lingo used on set and the beginnings of the film budget.
“Hands-on experience from those classes helped prepare me for being on set, an actual film set,” Eliopoulos said.
Both students were able to gain important experience in KSUIF on smaller projects before working on such a large scale production like the “The Bye Bye Man.”
Collins said her advice to students is to do the same and learn the ropes of working on smaller scale movies first.
“Being an extra is a great first step for aspiring filmmakers because it's a great way to be able to observe your surroundings on set and begin to get an idea of how professional film sets operate,” she said.
Eliopoulos’ advice for students who are looking to have a career in the film industry is to be prepared to set aside time and be committed. She also recommends taking advantage of internship opportunities.
Other Kent State students who served as extras in “The Bye Bye Man” include sophomore communication studies major, Michael Gallagher as well as digital (electronic) media production alumni Dylan Bartolovich, '15; Ashley Johnson, '15, Bradley Voyten, '16, and theatre studies students and alumni Jessica Marshall and Jenna Kramer.
These students were able to see their hard work come to life when the movie premiered.
“When we saw me in the classroom scene sitting next to Lucien, we freaked out," Collins said. "It was such a surreal moment, even though I was only on-screen for a few seconds.”
Eliopoulos also shared excitement about seeing the film for the first time.
“When you see your name in those credits, your heart just stops and melts because you get to say, ‘I helped make that movie,’” she said. “I helped produce an entire feature film, and it felt great.”