Saturday, Feb 17, 2018
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Kirk Baird

CULTURE SHOCK

BG students land roles with ‘Fate’ crew

The Fate of the Furious, the eighth film in the Vin Diesel franchise, roars into movie theaters nationwide today.

As with the previous Fast and Furious movies, The Fate of the Furious is about cars, family, and stunts, the latter including cars launched out of parking garages and a high-speed car chase in which scaffolding is leveled onto the pursing vehicles. It’s a crazy sequence on the big screen that may look familiar to some moviegoers, since it was filmed in Cleveland as part of a second unit shoot of stunts and action.

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There’s even a local connection: 10 Bowling Green State University film students worked as production assistants on the May-to-June Cleveland shoot thanks to the combined efforts of Allie Toman and Jose Cardenas.

The former is a 2007 BGSU graduate (film major, telecommunications minor) who lives in North Hollywood and works as film and TV industry as a second assistant director and production assistant, with credits including The Fate of the Furious, Furious 7, and Captain America: The Winter Solider. The latter is a media production and studies senior lecturer at BGSU, where he’s worked for 13 years, in addition to years of experience in the film industry.

After she was asked to find production assistants — jobs in the film’s production department that could involve anything from getting coffee for the cast or crew to assisting the sound or camera departments — for the Cleveland shoot, Toman reached out to her former instructor.

“I immediately got a hold of Jose Cardenas about having students from BG submitting resumes for a PA position,” she said in an email interview. “It’s a very difficult industry to get into, and almost impossible if you don’t already know someone.”

Cardenas posted the openings and the response was overwhelming.

“My mailbox filled up like you wouldn’t believe,” he said.

There were 50 PA positions, Toman said, with the BGSU PAs used mostly as “lock ups,” whose job was to make sure “when the time comes, no bystanders or crew walk onto set or through the shot. With the stunt unit on [Fate of the Furious], these lock ups were [imperative] for the safety of the crowds of people watching.”

The BGSU students “did not disappoint,” she said.

“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,” Toman said. “I heard nothing but positive and impressed comments about the BGSU people during production.”

As with most internships, the on-the-job learning — soaking up knowledge from professionals and asking them questions as allowed by time and schedule — was as valuable as any classroom lecture or assignment. “From Day One you’re picking up something and learning something new,” Cardenas said.

Just as important, though, were the lessons in how to get along with a wide range of people and personalities and how to stand out in a group of 49 other PAs.

“By being that proactive person, that go-getter, you’re being singled out in a positive way,” he said. “Who is that person? That person is great, that’s who we want.”

For the opportunity for his students, Cardenas is grateful for Toman and other BGSU alumni reaching out to him.

“Former students tell me that they appreciate their experience here and that it was positive, and now ‘I’m going to give back,’ ” he said.

As Toman said: “It means a lot to me to be able to pay it forward and help my fellow Falcons.”

And there may be many more opportunities.

“Most industry people I talk to who have traveled to Cleveland for work say they were surprised and impressed and can’t wait to work there again,” she said. “As long as Ohio’s film incentive can keep growing and stay competitive with other states, the productions will come!”

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.

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