The Final Countdown: Finishing Up a Semester at FAMU

Written by Olivia Charis, (Yale University), Student Correspondent for CET Film Production at FAMU, Spring 2024

As the date of my flight back to the US slowly inches closer, I find it hard to believe time here in Prague is almost up. It feels like we’ve been here for two years and two weeks. The month of April has seemed to go by the fastest, with shooting and the start of post-production. I got to work on three sets in total, including my own.

Exploring different roles and parts of Prague

It was so much fun experiencing sets through different roles. I worked as a 2nd AD and Script Supervisor for one of my friends films, and Production Designer for another. The film I worked as script supervisor for was first, and it was really valuable to have practice being acutely aware of continuity before shooting my own film.  My work as PD also gave me a chance to explore Prague more than I ever have these past four months. Scouring for props like edible glitter and the perfect black dress, I found parts of Prague I may never have. Being on set in general this month has also been a great way of exploring more of Prague, as many of our films were shot in Airbnb’s, hotels, and small towns outside of the city center and, more importantly, beyond FAMU Studio.  

First rehearsal with my actors

Filming outdoors

As one of the only films shooting exclusively outside, my group was fairly nervous when it came time to shoot because we were at the mercy of the weather for all three days. Luckily, our shoot was met with beautiful spring weather (that has unfortunately since retreated) that added to the positive spirit on set. The spring sun made our twelve-hour work days go by so quickly.

Challenges are inevitable, but we got through them

Although I think every set had its own unique challenges—and shooting in general can come with a lot of stress—I was surprised to find how each set I was on managed fairly well. Even when there were miscommunications, mess ups, or inconveniences, each film was finished in the end. While I feel like I still have a lot to learn in terms of how to work effectively on a set with different personalities and unique circumstances, I feel I have gained such a breadth of on-set experience here in such a short while. 

Editing and wrapping up the semester

Now, in the last full week of April, we are finishing up the editing process for our films. After watching our footage together with our mentors, it felt so weird to have the culmination of a semester of work all rolled up into 1TB of SanDisk storage. Our films have seen so many lives and will continue to through the eyes and minds of our audiences. I am quick to narrow down my experiences to the final product or outcome, but if this program and film in general have shown me anything, it is that the process is more valuable than your results.     

With nearly two weeks left here in Prague, I am making the most of my final moments with the friends I’ve made. There is a lot of work to be done in the next two weeks between finishing our films and elective courses, so I’m sure they will go by quickly. And, while I’d be lying if I said I’m not excited to return to the States, I am finding more and more beauty in Prague each day. I cannot believe how much I have grown, both as a creative and as a person, this semester. I cannot wait to return home and share it with everyone I have been missing these last few months.  

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