By Chris Krebsbach, LAFSC industry relations director
The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities’ BestSemester Los Angeles Film Studies Center is proud to announce that two LAFSC alumni were part of the crew of 2012’s Best Picture Oscar winner, The Artist. In addition, Christina Lee Storm, a regular guest speaker for LAFSC’s Faith and Artistic Development course was the production supervisor on the film. LAFSC sat down with Katie Alloway Page, spring 2005 alumna, and David Smokay, fall 2010 alum, to ask about their experience.
LAFSC: How did you get your position on The Artist?
Smokay: LAFSC’s internship director had tried to set me up with an internship on the Disney lot, but when we never heard back from them, I was a little disappointed. Almost a week after internships started, I got a call from LAFSC about a feature film looking for office interns for "a black and white silent French film." So that afternoon I set up an interview time, and they offered me the position the next day. I was an office intern but ended up working with the camera crew so much, they requested I be listed as a camera intern in the credits.
Page: I found out about the opportunity through Christina Lee Storm, the production supervisor of The Artist. I was in the Producing and Entertainment Executive Program at Act One, and she reached out to them for interns…I didn't know much about the project at that time, just that it was a black and white silent film, produced by a French production company, and it would be shot in Hollywood. Little did I know that I was working on the next Best Picture.
LAFSC: What fun stories do you have about working on the film?
Smokay: In November, I was asked to drive Malcolm McDowell [who plays The Butler in the film] from Paramount Studios to his home in the Simi Valley. So for an hour and a half, I was able to listen to him tell me stories about when he was young and breaking into the business. As if that wasn't enough, when we reached his home, he asked me to come in and meet his wife and two young sons.
Another time, during the last week of shooting, while waiting for lighting to be set, I asked [a crew member] what he thought about the film overall. He responded, "I've worked on a lot of films, but with this film...I smell award season." Even though I hoped he was right, I never thought it would win an Oscar, much less Best Picture.
Page: My favorite moment of the entire experience is the first time I watched the film. It screened at the AFI Film Festival at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre…I've never experienced anything quite like it. At the end of the film, we received a standing ovation, and I knew in that moment that we were part of something very special.
LAFSC: How does it feel to have a Best Picture award winner on your resume?
Page: I feel incredibly grateful to have The Artist be the first feature I worked on… My hope is that I continue to work on films that embrace beauty, truth, and meaning. I am incredibly proud to be a part of the team and hope that I get another opportunity to work alongside these wonderful creators, producers, cast, and crew.
Smokay: It feels a little surreal right now. I still can't believe it's the same film I worked on…Regardless of any awards it won, it was the most eye-opening experience of my life, and I feel like it has equipped me greatly to work in the film industry.
LAFSC: Any final thoughts?
Smokay: The opportunity to work on such an important film came straight from God. I couldn't have dreamed up or planned that perfect internship. I am very grateful for the entire LAFSC faculty and staff…Their guidance was instrumental in my success and placement on this film set.
Page: I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the LAFSC for having me as part of the program in the spring of 2005. It is through LAFSC that I discovered my love for Hollywood and producing films. I owe many of the opportunities that I have had over the past seven years to your organization and the wonderful people that run the program. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!
About BestSemester: The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities offers 12 off-campus study programs, collectively branded BestSemester®, which expand learning opportunities for students from CCCU campuses and are designated as culture-shaping or culture-crossing programs. Culture-shaping BestSemester programs are: American Studies Program (Washington, D.C.); Contemporary Music Center (Nashville); Los Angeles Film Studies Center (Los Angeles); and Washington Journalism Center (Washington, D.C.). Culture-crossing BestSemester programs are: Australia Studies Centre; China Studies Program; India Studies Program; Latin American Studies Program; Middle East Studies Program; Programmes in Oxford; and Uganda Studies Program. Visit www.bestsemester.com for program details.
About the CCCU: The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 185 intentionally Christ-centered institutions around the world. The 116 member campuses in North America are all fully-accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. In addition, 69 affiliate campuses from 25 countries are part of the CCCU. The Council’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit www.cccu.org.