Acting: The First Six Lessons
Gaining real-life filmmaking experience while working with well-known individuals in the entertainment industry is just part of what makes the Ringling College of Art and Design Studio Labs, a collaboration between Ringling College and Semkhor Productions, such a rewarding experience. Indeed, this opportunity for experiential learning that allows students to work alongside industry professionals is a hallmark of the Ringling College Film program, one that distinguishes it from many of its peers.
In summer 2019, I had the opportunity to be part of an amazing film family when I worked as script supervisor and associate producer for Acting: The First Six Lessons. This film is an adaptation of a play co-written by Beau Bridges and his daughter, Emily Bridges, in which both also star, based on the book of the same name by acting teacher Richard Boleslavsky. The book shares six lessons of acting as conveyed by a teacher to an aspiring young actress. In a press release announcing the arrival of Beau Bridges to campus in July, Ringling College President Larry R. Thompson noted, “This film has offered an amazing opportunity for our students to earn invaluable real-world experience while making crucial industry contacts and has also helped our graduates to continue to advance their careers.”
Students were able to participate in the creative process on a number of levels. Ringling College students made up the majority of the film crew. Several top positions, referred to as above-theline positions, were held by recent graduates. Zifeng Zhuo ’19 and Austin Gorski ’19 served as co-producers; Jack Patterson ’19 was director of photography; and Darrien Land ’19 held the main camera operator spot. Additionally, undergraduate Alexis Dolfi ’20 served as production designer.
Working alongside Beau Bridges, the team of students and graduates moved from three months of exhaustive pre-production work to the actual production of the film.
My roles as associate producer and the scripty, or script supervisor, for the project, gave me a nonstop learning experience. As associate producer, I helped the producers with various tasks—everything from arranging lunch for the crew, to tracking down green screens, and working with the production design team. It was also my job to invite actors to come for a limited, private master class with the Bridges after the shooting. Then there were props, costumes, overhead diagrams, and a mock set to ensure that everyone involved in the project was always on the same page. As we were preparing for Beau and Emily Bridges to arrive, my to-do list grew and grew.
My lists were endless.
When the Bridges arrived on July 3, my duties as script supervisor kicked in. I was using the student version of an app called Scripte that enables script supervisors to keep everything in an easily accessible digital format. The app helped me to immediately share the director’s—Emily Bridges—thoughts on the best scene takes with the post-production crew. A scripty also has to pay attention to the actors’ movements, making sure there are no inconsistencies between any of the scenes. The script was very dialogue heavy, and Beau and Emily Bridges both wanted to make certain that lines were said word-for-word from the script.
On his first day on set, Beau Bridges gathered everyone and asked them to hold hands and pray for the upcoming weeks of filming. It was so exhilarating! I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself, bigger than our crew. As the filming wrapped up, Beau gave every student who worked on the project a recommendation letter along with a copy of the book, Acting: The First Six Lessons, inscribed with personal messages from both him and Emily.
As every day of filming passed, I realized we had indeed become a family— my first film family.
By Clonia Charite