By Tyra Haag (’04)
Three cinema studies students spent their summer as interns for Dog Years, a feature film set in Knoxville starring Hollywood legend Burt Reynolds.
Juniors Crue Smith and Lori Terrones and senior Corbin Phillips worked twelve-hour days learning the ins and outs of filmmaking and how to make a story come to life.
“I really like storytelling, screenwriting, and directing,” said Smith, a Knoxville native who served as the locations intern. “I’ve never worked on a project this big before. It’s been stressful but fun on set. Everyone has been great.”
Smith worked alongside locations manager and Maryville native Wes Caylor to scout and secure filming locations around Knoxville and East Tennessee. He also assisted the senior line producer with payroll, location agreements, and other important paperwork.
“Crue was my arms and legs during this shoot and I trusted him to get things done,” said Caylor. “To have someone like Crue who’s passionate about filmmaking is the exact type of intern we needed. He has what it takes to go as far as he wants to go in this business.”
Smith says the experience has enhanced his professional skills and resume.
Phillips, who grew up in Knoxville, spent his time on set running the teleprompter, a vital job that gave him daily access to the film’s director, Adam Rifkin, and the opportunity to watch the actors work.
“Aside from student films, I’d never worked on anything like this,” he said. “I encourage other film students to get a job on set, because it’s completely different than working on a student film.”
Phillips said UT has a strong cinema studies program that encourages aspiring filmmakers to do what they love.
“It’s been pretty wild to work with actors I’ve watched in movies and TV,” he said. “Burt Reynolds really gave it his all every single take. I’m just grateful to be a part of such a solid cast and crew.”
Terrones, a native of Sharps Chapel, Tennessee, said working as the art department intern sharpened her organization and communication skills.
“I jumped at the chance to work on a professional film project for the first time,” she said. “The experience of working on a film takes all the things you hear about and study in class and makes them real.
“The production runs on a tight schedule, and a massive number of people have to work in tandem to make sure everything runs smoothly. In an environment as competitive as the film industry, I feel like any experience you can get is a great thing to have on a resume.”
Caylor adds that an internship on a film set is an ideal opportunity to make contacts and build relationships.
“This film has allowed the students to grow in their skills and get real hands-on experience,” he said. “It helps them to understand film vernacular, set hierarchy, and the ins and outs of the business. It’s a great place for them to learn.”
Dog Days, produced by Whitener Entertainment Group, filmed in the Knoxville area, including the UT campus.