Columbia CC film tech program starts bright careers early - WSMV News 4

Columbia CC film tech program starts bright careers early

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Most high schools in Middle Tennessee have finished their graduations this spring, and that means a big decision for graduates about what to do next.

One option is a one-year program in which participants earn back as much as half of their tuition and end up with jobs that pay close to six figures.

Add to that the fact that their workplace is the set of a movie or network TV show, and perhaps the best news of all is there is still time to sign up.

Crews were working a long night recently in an alley off Music Row on a final rehearsal for one of the scenes in a film set to be released next fall.

Billy Ray Cyrus and Larry Gatlin are the headliners, but behind the scenes, budding technicians are making a name for themselves while they study in the Film Crew Technology Program at Columbia State Community College.

"Its grueling. It's very rough. But, at the same time, there's this weird camaraderie," said film tech founder Read "Bear" Ridley. "We call it joining the circus."

For $4,000 - less than what some students spend on books and beer - the film tech crew at Columbia State gets a five-day a week, real-world immersion in the movie business.

"Our program is designed to make professional technicians in 12 months," Ridley said. "We take people with some experience and no experience, and they are at West Coast-level before the end."

You can call them interns, but they're getting paid for what they do. And they do it well.

In fact, 65 percent of the graduates are now working in the field, which is a better placement record than the film schools at NYU, USC or UCLA.

"They're the first ones here, the last ones to leave and I love their enthusiasm for the art of it," said director Johnny Remo.

"Students come in, and in a year they have a career," Ridley said.

If you're interested in enrolling in the Film Crew Technology Program, they are still accepting students, but you have to apply soon.

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