“My teaching philosophy is to get students on set and working as soon as possible,” says Justin Liberman, associate professor of cinema in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences’ School of Communication. That is why Liberman hired cinema students to work this summer as production assistants for the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s “See Something, Say Something” ad campaign. Liberman served as the producer for the full-day TV shoot at the West Haven, Conn., train station.
To watch films created by UHart cinema students and faculty, visit the Cinema Department’s Vimeo website.)
“In the classroom, I’m able to teach them emotionally and intellectually how film works. But it’s only on set that they get to learn the physical demand of film,” says Liberman. As a producer, he likens his role to that of a sports team manager who hires the right people to win a championship, or in this case, who can work well together.
Cinema major Jade Baker ’20 of Danbury, Conn., worked as a wardrobe assistant. Baker is planning to be a film director and credits Liberman for pushing her beyond her comfort zone. “I always had a camera in my hand growing up and made music videos. He made me realize that I could still use music in my films, but that I need to think more about the visuals.” Now she is preparing for a semester abroad to study film directing at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czech Republic.
Like Baker, cinema major Brett Rotatori ‘20, of Naugatuck, Conn., made movies in high school. He helped record the ambient sounds of the train station. With plans to be a film editor, Rotatori says he appreciated the chance to work on a professional set. “The connections you make are so important in cinema,” he says. He recently completed an internship at Charter Communications and placed third at a film festival for When You’re Gone, a film he co-wrote and directed with a classmate.
Cinema major Gavin Mealey ’20, of Franklin, Mass., worked as an assistant to director Pedro Bermudez ’07, an award-winning filmmaker who also taught cinema courses in the School of Communication. “This is the first time I’ve worked on a professional set,” says Mealey, who is preparing for a career in film directing.
Recent cinema alumnus James “Alex” Michel ’18 of Bloomfield, Conn., reached out to Bermudez, his former instructor, to let him know he was available for work. He was tasked as the second assistant director. “I want to work in television and film and highlight aspects of society that have gone unnoticed,” says Michel. This fall, he is attending the California Institute of the Arts to study film directing.