Missing his usual study abroad to India this summer, Media and Information’s Amol Pavangadkar decided to bring Bollywood to Lansing. The senior teaching specialist brought together current students and recent graduates to write, capture, edit and produce Anya’s Green Card, a story about a young Indian woman who desperately wants a green card to the U.S.
The film is scheduled to premiere at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 8 in 145 ComArtSci.
Becoming a Team
Pavangadkar was able to assemble a film crew of 29 volunteers, ranging from freshman, to seniors, to recent graduates.
“Not only was this practice for some students, it became a mentorship program,” said Pavangadkar. “We had students who are good at what they do in the real world who came back and started training students.”
Media and Information senior Ayden Byrnes served as a camera operator during production and worked as the lead editor and colorist in post production. He said that the best part of the project was getting to work with so many new people.
“There was a wide range of experience from everyone,” said Byrnes. “It was cool to see how everyone was able to come together and make something, even if they weren’t very familiar with a movie set.”
Out-of-class projects are often encouraged within ComArtSci, as they provide opportunities to gain hands-on experience that will set students apart when entering the workforce. Anya’s Green Card was no different.
“Not only does it go on their resumes and reels, but they also experience what it’s really like,” said Pavangadkar. “So to understand how stuff works, because in theory, we can preach and teach what we want, but things on set are way more practical and functional.”
Recent graduate Stuart Heinlein ’17 served as the lead script writer and the lead producer on the film. He advises that students take advantage of all of the opportunities and resources available to them, both inside and outside of the classroom.
“I found that the projects that taught me the most were outside of class and those projects ended up being huge resume boosters,” said Heinlein. “Make friends with your teachers because they know what they’re talking about and want to help.”
A Local Film
Unable to make it to India, the crew filmed locally. During the six days of shooting, they took over the greater Lansing area, shooting in in the library, the ComArtSci building and even incorporated the MSU police department. After jumping some security hurdles, they were able to gain access to the Lansing airport as well.
“We got a lot of support from the local community,” said Pavangadkar. “Dunkin Donuts donated literally gallons of coffee and donuts for production and we got subsidized rates from other catering places."
Figuring out location, equipment and food is difficult enough, but coordinating the schedules of 29 different people who are all at varying places in their college career is nearly impossible.
Brian Kusch, a broadcast and systems engineer and instructor, was also brought onto the project to add his lighting and and camera expertise. He said that scheduling was the hardest part of the filming process.
“The students are not full-time production people,” said Kusch. “They have class or a job and then they’re trying to get some actors that have to be there over multiple days and you have to work around their schedule. It’s a real scheduling feat to pull all of that together when you’re not working with professionals who are getting paid.”
The Highlight Reel
Once the filming schedule was finalized, Kusch admitted that his role was easy, considering how eager students were to get their hands on equipment and work on the project.
“We’re just providing the little poke of guidance here and there where it’s required,” said Kusch. “After a couple of shoots, the students could figure out things on their own and were moving forward. It’s fun to watch in a small, intense experience like this how quickly the students come along and get noticeably better.”
According to Heinlein, working with the cast and crew only made the film better. While the cast was able to add their own humor to the original script, the crew was able to execute everything that was thrown their way.
“The best part about the experience has to be, as a writer, when you watch a scene being shot and it comes out exactly how you saw it in your head,” said Heinlein. “Knowing that something translates from your head to the page to the actual filming process is really cool.”
By Kaitlin Dudlets