Lights, Camera, Action!
Initiative, networking move theatre and film student toward her goal
By Liz Gladieux
It’s all about networking. Just ask Emily Dick, a senior majoring in theatre and film, who has had serious work experiences in her chosen field even before graduating.
“I met an assistant director, working in the industry for 20 years now, who was friends with the mom of my friend who I met here at BGSU on the Quidditch team,” said Dick. “As you see, connections can come from the strangest of places.”
The assistant director agreed to chat with Dick about her future career and how to get in the business. “We hit it off,” Dick said. “She invited me down to the set of the new Melissa McCarthy movie, ‘Michelle Darnelle.’ I took off a week of school and worked for five days on set, racking up a total of 78.5 hours.”
“College is an experience that you create...It doesn’t just happen. I originally came to BG for the theatre program but switched my major to film production and created my own minor. The minor is a collection of theatre and film classes that all relate to the different skills an assistant director needs to have.”That time on the set cemented Dick’s desire for behind-the-scenes work on movies. “After that, I was addicted and bugged the assistant director enough for her to send out my contact information,” Dick said.
At the end of the spring term this year, Dick had summer plans all set. But the best-laid plans can be changed when something exciting comes along. One day, she got the call to work on “The Founder,” a film about McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, starring Michael Keaton.
“I bought a car, found a room to stay in and moved to Atlanta with five days of set experience under my belt — yikes!” said Dick.
Recalling the saying “It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know and then who knows you,” Dick said, “That in itself is the definition of what it takes to get into the movie industry.”
While there are more movie industry films she is looking into, Dick’s focus now is on her upcoming senior year at BGSU.
“I have my hands full with senior year,” she said. “I’m coordinating a documentary/behind-the-scenes short film for Professor Sarah Chambers’ play ‘A Perfect Wedding,’ onstage at BGSU this November. This is my attempt to bring together the film and theatre programs. There are so many talented people and cool things happening in each program, why not merge them when possible?”
Lucas Ostrowski, an assistant professor of theatre and film, has worked with Dick on campus. “I hired Emily to be my first assistant director on my film ‘Beneath the Crawlspace,’ which is a demanding, selfless and thankless position on a film set,” he said. “A first assistant director on every set must keep the film safe, on time, and on budget in addition to acting as a liaison between director, producer, department heads and crew. She did a good job maintaining a safe and timely set while positively interacting with cast and crew, and making sure I got what I needed as a director.
“A lot of film opportunities are about timing and networking. However, I believe Emily got on the set due to her positive attitude and her persistence.”
Dick believes there is more to a college education than academics. “College is an experience that you create,” she said. “It doesn’t just happen. I originally came to BG for the theatre program but switched my major to film production and created my own minor. The minor is a collection of theatre and film classes that all relate to the different skills an assistant director needs to have.”
She credits Kelly Mangan, an instructor in scenic design, prop design and technical theatre, for the opportunities to have leadership roles backstage, and Ostrowski for giving her a better grasp of the job of assistant director when he hired her for his film.
“I am proud of every production I have been a part of here at BG,” said Dick. “My favorite was working backstage on ‘Legally Blonde.’ It was such a challenge because all the set pieces were double sided and on wheels. We barely had enough room to move the crew around backstage, let alone giant set pieces. Good times!”
What’s next for Dick after she leaves BGSU in the spring of 2016? “I will be applying to the Directors Guild of America Assistant Directors Program, which only about 20 applicants get into. It’s a long shot but it’s worth it if I can get in,” she said. “If that doesn’t work, I will probably end up moving to Atlanta. There is a ton of work as a production assistant and studios are popping up right and left. It’s actually quite fascinating; they might be giving L.A. a run for their money in the near future.
“I know what I want. Not many people my age can say that. So when opportunities show up I will do everything I can to milk it for all it’s worth. I also hold myself to a high standard, pushing for 100 percent in everything I do.”