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SALISBURY, MD—While many of their friends were binging on movie marathons during winter break, four Salisbury University students spent time in New York on the other side of the camera.
Leslie Yarmo, associate professor in SU’s Music, Theatre and Dance Department, invited students to intern with her while she was costume designing the independent film Carrie Pilby, shot in New York in late 2015 and early 2016. They included freshman communication arts major Phoebe Kolesar of Frederick, MD; junior theatre major Kate Granzier of Lutherville, MD; senior communication arts major Mihret Asfera of Rockville, MD; and junior theatre major Niamani Robinson of Suitland, MD.
Based on the novel of the same name by Caren Lissner, Carrie Pilby follows the life of a 19-year-old genius who, following the advice of her therapist (played by Nathan Lane), begins making friends and dating men who challenge her beliefs in an attempt to better fit in with society.
Unlike the title character, SU’s students had little trouble fitting in on the film set.
“It was so worth it,” said Kolesar, who stayed at temporary residences in the city and ended up working three weeks on the film, including one as a paid assistant. “I woke up the first morning and was like, ‘Am I really doing this?’ I went home every night so happy that I had this opportunity.”
So happy, in fact, that she often chose to work longer than her required hours, sometimes putting in up to 12 hours a day. Joining Yarmo in costuming, she began her first job in the movies doing something many of her contemporaries may envy: shopping.
“Leslie met with me the second day, and right off the bat we started shopping for the production,” she said, adding that included five hours at a shopping mall and various department stores in and around New York. She hopes the experience helps her with her plans to work in public relations at a fashion firm after graduation.
Her work on the film was not limited to just purchasing clothing. She also got to attend fittings for actors including one of the film’s stars, Colin O’Donoghue, at the director’s hotel suite, an experience she called “really cool.” With Granzier, she also got to appear in front of the camera as an extra.
“The production assistant and I clicked right away,” she said, adding she already has been offered more movie work this summer. “I would go back in a heartbeat.”
Granzier, who worked 10 days on the film with Yarmo in costuming, also enjoyed the fast-paced atmosphere.
“It didn’t really feel like work,” she said, adding that her duties included returning unused costume pieces to the stores from which they were purchased. She hopes to make a career in film. Working on the movie gave her a taste of the many options available to her in the industry.
“It was a really good insight into my future,” she said.
Like Kolesar and Granzier, Asfera began her three weeks on the film in costuming with Yarmo. For her final two weeks, however, she explored her interest in media production by working on set with the assistant directing team. Her duties included checking in extras and walking them to the hair and makeup departments, walking actors from their trailers to the filming location, keeping people out of the filming area during scenes and, though it may sound cliché, saying “Quiet on the set!” — a lot.
Currently interning with WBOC-TV in Salisbury, she ultimately would like to act, direct, and produce films and documentaries. She hopes her experiences in New York will help her reach that goal. Between filming, she got a ticket to be part of the studio audience at The Wendy Williams Show, using the opportunity to inquire about internship openings at the daytime talk show.