Falcon Fast and Furious 10

BGSU students and alumni work together on popular film franchise

fast-furious-8

By Marie Dunn-Harris 

Ten BGSU film students didn’t have to travel far to get their first experience working on a major motion picture. Three undergraduates and seven alumni were involved in the production of “Fast and Furious 8” in Cleveland. 

The opportunity came for most of them through alumna Allie Toman ’07. Toman, a film major, has worked with the “Fast and Furious” crew several times, and was asked to make a list of production assistants. Toman immediately contacted telecommunications professor Jose Cardenas about the opportunity.

“I wanted to make sure they were aware of the project coming to Cleveland and provide them an opportunity for their resumes,” Toman said. “It's almost impossible to get your foot into this industry without already knowing someone, and I eagerly accept the opportunities to be that someone and pay it forward.”

The filming of “Fast and Furious 8” in Cleveland was called second unit because it did not involve actors. Instead, filming focused on stunt work such as car explosions. 

Third-year film production major David Bratnick worked on the set as a production assistant. His main job was crowd control.

“I had to make sure people on the streets wouldn’t be walking onto our set, because a lot of people didn’t realize that we were making a film,” he said.

Bratnick worked on the film for six days. It was his first time working on a major Hollywood movie. 

“Walking onto the set that first day seeing how massive it was, how many crew members there were, seeing how they all worked together to make one huge film, it was incredible,” he said. 

Telecommunications major Brittany Shank ‘16 also heard about the opportunity through Cardenas. She worked with Bratnick on crowd control.

“Our primary job was to explain to people on our assigned street what was going on and try and keep them away during filming for their safety,” Shank said.

Alumna Emily Dick ’16 worked with Shank and Bratnick on crowd control. She enjoyed the laid back atmosphere with the stunt crew.

“This film was completely different than some other films I’ve worked on. I’ve worked on first unit crews before with actors and sound, but with second units, you don’t have sound or actors to deal with,” she said. “I was shocked how relaxed it was. For example, if a stunt went really well, you’d hear cheering from the crew.” 

Dick learned about the opportunity through networking with previous connections. The timing also worked out because filming started just after graduation and right before she planned on moving to Atlanta.

“It was reassuring, knowing that I had something right away that was going to be on my resume before I got to Atlanta. So it was very comforting,” Dick said.

While most of the BGSU crew worked as production assistants, senior film production major Jacob Peake had the chance to work on the visual effects side.

“I had to do some grunt work like fetching food for everyone,” he said. “But I also got to help take notes and create diagrams of cars, buildings, anything that needed to be computer generated.”

The experience was a first for Peake.

“I loved it. There was a lot of movement and communication and always something interesting going on,” he said.

Peake also made valuable connections. While he learned a lot about visual effects, his specialty is sound. 

“I have no background with visual effects but the people I worked with said they could put me in contact with sound people,” he said. “They encouraged me to keep in touch with them so they don’t forget about me.”

Peake, Shank, Bratnick and Dick all knew each other as fellow film production majors. But they didn’t realize they would be working with six other Falcons.

“It was so cool. We were all hanging out and we said, 'Let’s take a group BG picture,’ and a few more said, ‘Wait, we graduated from there (too),’” Dick said.

“It made it a lot easier because we at least knew someone, especially being our first time on a set,” Peake said. “It definitely helped put BGSU’s film production name out there.”

“It was awesome getting to work with so many people I knew from school,” Bratnick said. “I think we had the biggest presence on set than any other university.”

Bratnick and Shank each has a goal of someday becoming a cinematographer. Peake would like to work in a recording studio for either a music or film company. Dick is now freelancing in Atlanta, where she hopes to build her networking base and gain more experience before eventually moving to Los Angeles.

For all four of them, this experience was the perfect chance for them to get their foot in the door. 

“The first industry production that you can claim on your resume, the knowledge, contacts and experience that comes with that are priceless,” Toman said.

Toman has worked in the industry since she graduated in 2007. She credits her success to her BGSU education, and has heard nothing but positive things about BGSU students during the “Fast and Furious 8” production.

“They already had an idea what to expect, how to conduct themselves, and the confidence needed to walk onto that set and rock their job each and every day,” she said. “They made me even more proud to call myself a Falcon!”

The six other Falcons involved on the film were alumni Kevin Taylor, Chrissy Butcher, Drew Jackson and Rob Stephans, current student Conor Mutter and former student Trevor O’Neal.

“Fast and Furious 8” opens in theatres April 14, 2017.