For the first four weeks of June, more than a dozen of Hollywood and New York’s finest motion picture professionals shared their experience and talents with 50 ambitious film trainees in the Connecticut Film Industry Training Program (FITP), presented for the second year at Middlesex Community College. FITP is part of the state’s initiative to attract feature film and episodic television production to Connecticut. The program trains people to work as crew members in various departments, including Assistant Directing, Camera, Lighting and Camera Grip, Script Supervision, Location Management, Production Office Coordination and Sound.
FITP is a four-week intensive program, resulting in the production of a short film, Down to the Wire. The film began shooting June 19 on the MxCC campus. Production wrapped on June 26, with a screening of the first cut of the film for all participants. The film is directed by Lewis Gould, Producer of Law and Order, and Director of Medium and Judging Amy. Middletown resident and Emmy award winning producer/director Lisa Simmons and MxCC professors John Shafer and Rich Lenoce coordinate FITP and are producing the film. MxCC alum Giovanna Vecchitto wrote the screenplay.
During filming the 50 trainees acted as crew under the 10 professionals while on the set. Students trained on and used cinema-quality equipment including 35mm Panavision film and Panasonic digital-cinema video cameras, professional sound equipment, lighting and grip trucks and the computer hardware and software necessary to make a film.
Competition for entry into this year’s program was stiff, with hundreds of people applying for only 50 available slots. Trainees range in age from 19-55. Though they come from all different backgrounds, each participant shares a passion for working in the film industry.
According to one graduate of last year’s program, “FITP teaches you all of the things they don’t teach you in film school.” Many of those 2008 graduates are now working on feature films and network television programs as these productions are attracted to Connecticut due to the state’s tax credits.
The program ran through June 26. FITP is funded by a grant from the Office of Workforce Competitiveness.