The Right Mix: Stark and Kent Campus students collaborate on final sound for feature film
While most students spent Spring Break on the beach, Brandon Salewsky composed an original piece of music for a feature film and helped complete post-production sound editing.
At work in Kent State University at Stark’s state-of-the-art music technology studio in the newly expanded Fine Arts building, Salewsky was happy to spend his days at computers and mixing boards.
“This was the perfect opportunity for a senior music technology student,” said Salewsky, who graduated in May. “I used all of the skills I’ve learned over the past four years to complete the sound work on this film.”
Produced by Kent State University Independent Films, “Fly By Night” premiered in April at Cartwright Hall in Kent. The crime drama follows two detectives who lead very different personal lives.
Salewsky, along with Stark Campus students, Shauna Contumelio and Mat Morgan, worked with Kent Campus students, Jimmy Naples, Nate Shively and Gabby Pedroza, on the Stark Campus to finalize the sound for the student film project.
“The collaboration between the two campuses is a manifestation of the ‘one university’ idea. We are putting students first and working to ensure joint educational experiences are happening,” said Scott Hallgren, assistant professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent.
Hallgren worked with Ian Anderson, assistant professor of music at Kent State Stark, to bring the sound editing in-house. Previously, editing for the bi-annual student feature film was completed in Chicago.
“It is all about cross-campus collaboration and building relationships,” Anderson said. “With the Fine Arts expansion, the Stark Campus is positioned to become the audio center for the Kent State University system.”
‘GREAT LEARNING EXPERIENCE’
Nate Shively, a Kent Campus junior from Youngstown, received the call last year to co-direct the feature film, which was shot over two months in the summer. Post-production work began with film editing in the fall, followed by audio editing this spring.
Shively said he learned a lot about long hours filming on set, and taking a film from screenplay to the big screen. The script was written by Erica Collins, a 2017 Kent State graduate, who majored in digital media production.
“It was definitely a great learning experience,” Shively said. “This is the first time we have done a film that wasn’t based on a college campus.”
The off-campus scenes called for the film crew to find – or create – locations that fit the script, such as a police station and jail. The cast also included professional actors from the Cleveland area.
Shively co-directed the film with Naples, a Kent senior also from Youngstown. Naples went from once working as a camera assistant to directing his first feature film. He said he found purpose at the Kent Campus after beginning his college career as an engineering student at a Youngstown-area university.
“I think I’ve discovered what I want to do with my life, and that’s working in the film industry,” Naples said.
Pedroza, of Columbus, was a fashion major at Kent State University when she became involved with TV2, the university’s independent student-led television station. “I realized how much I loved being on set,” said Pedroza, who served as the “Fly By Night” supervising sound editor.
She said she developed a passion for sound in Hallgren’s class. “Fifty percent of the movie-going experience is sound and, if done right, you do not notice this critical element,” Pedroza explained. “That really inspired me.”
The students’ collaboration at the Stark Campus was made possible, in part, thanks to a grant from the Kent State University College of the Arts.
“Our job, post-production, was basically to get it all together, to make sure the sound you hear is what your ears would hear in the real world,” said Contumelio, of Steubenville, a senior in the music technology program. “I would have never expected to work on post-production sound to a movie, but after doing this film, I could see myself doing this kind of work after graduation.”
And for Salewsky, who grew up in the drumline at Massillon’s Washington High School, syncing his music skills with today’s technology-driven world is the boost he needed.
“I’m better at playing music. I’m better at writing music,” he said. “The music technology program has allowed me to augment my skills, and expand them greatly. I was excited to jump in when presented with this opportunity to work with students from the Kent Campus. We really can do more, together.”