Elkins resident attending state filmmaking master class

Have you ever had an interest in working in the film industry? The West Virginia Film Office in Charleston is trying to make that a possibility and one local woman is taking them up on it.

Barbara McQuain, of Elkins, is participating in one of two offered seminars, a two-day, hands-on workforce training master class hosted by the West Virginia Film Office on Friday and Saturday in Charleston and Sunday and Monday in Fairmont.

Skills training will be provided by film industry veteran Demian Resnick, a New York-based location manager, who will focus on skill sets needed to become a location scout.

Resnick is considered one of the industry’s top location managers for feature films, television productions and commercials, officials said. Starting his career as a production assistant, he quickly moved to the locations department, where he gained the majority of his experience. Some of Resnick’s credits include “Super 8,” “Cloverfield,” “Almost Famous,” “Celebrity Apprentice,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Without A Trace.”

Pam Haynes, director of the West Virginia Film Office, said the master class is a key component for building upon the state’s film industry labor pool.

“Through hands-on instruction and interactive scouting demonstrations and activities, participants in the master class will learn the basic fundamentals of location scouting as well as an overview of location management,” she said. “The added impact for our state is, when a region has a skilled labor pool with a strong understanding of the unique needs of the film industry, it becomes a built-in financial incentive for companies filming on location because it reduces the burden of having to hire specialized workers from out of state.”

“One of our core goals is to identify the best avenues to assist West Virginia residents who want to learn a new skill set and expand their chances of being hired on productions filming in the state,” said Lisa Wells, industry relations coordinator for the film office.

The seminar is open to the public and is designed for people of all skill levels and industry skill sets. McQuain is looking forward to the seminar not only as a way to learn new skills she can use in the industry, but to build her resume as well; the class counts as a credited job in the industry.

“Even those with other film industry skill sets could benefit from the classes,” said Wells. “The more hats you wear, the greater the likelihood of being hired. We hosted a Production Assistant Training Seminar in June and many of the participants were immediately hired by a feature film that was shooting in Beckley and a cable network mini-series that recently filmed in the Eastern Panhandle.”

McQuain attended the seminar in June, where she met J.T. Arbogast and Kimberly Dilts, the filmmakers who made the acclaimed “Angel’s Perch,” which was filmed almost entirely in West Virginia.

“I’d recommend it to anyone young or old with an interest in the industry,” said McQuain. “If you have a broader knowledge of the industry in general you can be the person that they are looking for to work for them.”

Haynes said that location scouts are among the first people hired on a film production. Scouts search for, photograph and secure filming locations based on a script and requests from producers, directors and other production personnel and every production,

regardless of size, requires location scouting and management, she said.

This seminar is not only focusing on photography and finding an appropriate location for a shoot, but it also provides information on how to approach property owners, proper etiquette, negotiations of property contracts and more.

“We wanted to promote a larger film workforce in the state,” said Haynes. “We wanted to increase hiring activities and began hosting workshops for people in the area based on skills we know they need in order to work for the industry. That can include anything like production assistants, production coordinators, location scouts, gaffers, grips, make-up and hair stylists and camera operators and many others.”

She also said there are certain perks to filming outside of traditional locations.

“Location is an important part of the industry,” Haynes said. “It does matter when you have cooperative and knowledgeable people available in the area you are making a film.”

The master classes will begin each day at 9 a.m. and wrap at 6 p.m. The South Charleston session will be held at the Holiday Inn and Suites, 400 Second Avenue. The Fairmont session will be held at the Robert H. Mollohan Research Center, I-79 Technology Park, 1000 Galliher Drive.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided both days of each session. Advance registration is mandatory due to limited seating in order to maximize attention to each participant. The registration cost will be $60. Current members of the film office’s online Crew Directory pay only $45. High school senior and current college students can take advantage of the class for $25.

All participants of the seminar are required to bring a digital still camera. A laptop computer is recommended but not mandatory. Also, participants should wear appropriate clothing and shoes for outdoor photography.

To get a spot in one of the master class sessions, email wvfilm@wv.gov for instructions, or for additional workshop questions, call 304-957-9366. For more information, visit the film office at www.wvfilm.com.

Contact Chad Clem by email at cclem@theintermountain.com.