Graduation always comes with a sense of pride, but very few include a red carpet premiere. Students from the Columbia State Community College film tech program saw their work pay off on the big screen last week in a new movie called Like a Country Song.
They were part of the production crew last summer and are now working hands-on with the very same camera Hollywood is using for blockbuster movies.
The ARRI Alexa makes cinematic magic.
"It's taken over major motion picture production. Things like Skyfall, the Bond film, Avengers, Thor, Wolverine - all those were shot on it," said Read "Bear" Ridley, director of the film tech program at Columbia State. "If we were training pilots, this is like having a Gulfstream Lear Jet."
The brand new, state-of-the-art technology has taken an already successful film tech training program to new heights at Columbia State Community College.
"This is the Cadillac of cameras. You can't get any better than this," said student Preston "Serpico" Phillips.
"As soon as we introduced it to the program, the students' skill level just took off. Now, they could see an exact pristine image of what their work does, and they wanted to do more and more," Ridley said.
The program has 16 students working to learn their craft five days a week, all day like a job. And they do it for real clients. Most earn the cost of their tuition back well before they graduate.
"Had no idea what I wanted to do. Last year, the newscast came on about this program and I decided to check it out. And I immediately knew that it was exactly what I was supposed to be doing," said student Eric "Candyman" Nilsen.
The goal is to work in Hollywood, and they're well on the way.
The most recent class film credit is the new Billy Ray Cyrus movie Like a Country Song. Channel 4 News visited on location last year on the last night of shooting.
Last week was the red carpet premiere in Green Hills.
The students say when the college decided to buy them the high-tech camera, it was like hitting the career-training lottery.
They've named the camera Sarah in honor of a filmmaker and technician who died last year while on a film shoot in Georgia.
"Sarah Jones lost her life on that set, so we named our camera after her. So, that way, she's still training technicians and will always be with us on set," Ridley said.
Jones wasn't a Columbia State student, but she has become part of a brotherhood and sisterhood they all feel deeply.
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