Meet the Intern: Liv Arejola Erickson

Hey, I’m Liv! I’m a student filmmaker, screenwriter, and actress who just graduated from North High School, and will be attending the Cleveland State School of Film and Media Arts in the fall. My biggest passion is writing, but as a multidisciplinary artist, I’m also proficient in photography, singing, illustration, and graphic design.

I’ve always been an artist, having been nominated for and winning multiple accolades since I was in my early teens, such as the Lake County and Geauga County Juried Student Art Awards (Best in Grade), the Fair Housing Resource Center Poster Contest (2nd place winner), the Shining Star CLE singing competition (top 25), and most recently a Best Actress nominee for the 2024 Playhouse Square Dazzle Awards for my role as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde: The Musical.

As a sprouting cinefile, I love to dig deep into certain films, learning about the production and any interesting behind-the-scenes stories. Some of my favorite genres are science fiction and dark comedy. Jordan Peele’s Nope comes to mind as a more recent favorite, and Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and The Nice Guys are both great times. As for television, I adored HBO’s Barry and am currently awaiting season three of The Bear (and you can’t go wrong with Star Trek: TOS).

I really admire the work GCFC does for the film industry in Ohio, and continue to find that there is so much you can learn from the Commission. I’ve only heard great things from anyone who’s worked with the staff in any capacity. By interning here, I hope to learn important fundamental skills and how to grow within the industry; gaining experience and preparing for any future opportunities.

After college, I want to work in film and pursue my goal of being a professional screenwriter!

Thanks for reading! You can find me at @liv.arejola on Instagram to keep up with my work and projects! 🙂

Photo by Cody York for the Dazzle Awards (@cyorkphoto and @dazzleawards on Instagram)

Meet the Intern: Faith Nelson

Hi! My name is Faith Nelson and I am currently a graduating senior from Mentor High School. I plan to attend Kent State University in the fall to major in Film and Media Arts while also minoring in Musical Theater. I am a big movie watcher, I really enjoy thoroughly analyzing films and taking perspective on the things that help make up a film. This past year I took a CCP class through Lakeland Community College on Films where we were asked to watch an assigned film each week and read from the textbook American Cinema/American Culture to connect the different genres, time eras and overall look deeper into films. I am involved in Musical Theater and Show choir so when watching a film I make sure to address the acting, actors and music. I’ve always loved singing since I was a little girl and recently have been learning acoustic guitar for about a year. 

My favorite show in the entire world is Stranger Things. I have watched it 6 times and it always fulfills me. I think the Duffer Brothers are brilliant, especially having every little detail and every character down to a crisp that the reveal in season 4 was so spot on and mind boggling. That sense of bewildering and that nothing is real sort of messing with your head are my favorite films. Films that gave me that feeling that I really enjoyed include Inception, Don’t Worry Darling and Divergent. Which are all part of the sci/fi genre. If I had to choose an all time favorite film though it would have to be Burlesque because I have always looked up to Christina Aguilera’s character Allie and the way she followed her dreams.

I was interested to intern at the Greater Cleveland Film Commission because I have heard about the amount of movies that are filmed here in Cleveland and wanted to get the inside scoop.  I also have a friend that attends Cleveland State University and she shadowed here for her senior project and loved the experience. 

My top 3 career choices with this Major and where I want to end up, are unsure as of right now. But an idea in mind is definitely Directing, Actress and Executive producer. I would also be open to working as a stunt coordinator. I hope to move to NYC after my 4 years at Kent and find a job out there on set. But with my minor being musical theater and the initial dream being acting, I would like to audition for broadway or on screen productions as well. 

Kyle Nenadovich, “Making ‘The Man Makes the Title'”

During my Fall 2023 semester at Kent State, I took Production II, which is the Capstone class for Digital Media production majors. Students are expected to showcase everything they learned during their time in the program. I had gone through a lot of ideas for what my short film would be in the months leading up to the summer semester. Originally, I wanted to do a neo-noir film, until I realized I don’t know how to write noirs (yet). Then I wanted to do a coming-of-age comedy-drama in a similar vein to Lady Bird, but the only idea I had for the climax. Then, I opened up a script I had written the summer before.

Those who know me, know that I am a big pro-wrestling fan. I started watching WWE in 2014, just before WrestleMania 30. I only got to watch the pay-per-view events for a while because the weekly shows were only on cable, but I was watching nearly every event I could. Eventually, I was only watching every year when WrestleMania happened. During spring break in 2022, I suddenly got into a hyper-fixation with the deeper aspects of things in the pro-wrestling world. I was watching and reading interviews about the behind-the-scenes life, watching documentaries about pivotal moments in the industry, and rewatching events from before I was a fan (and before I was alive). I started studying how matches were structured, the in-ring storytelling, and the psychology and styles behind wrestlers like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, and Kurt Angle.

During this deep dive, I got an idea for a TV show I wanted to write. It was a pro-wrestling show (obviously) but would focus on the backstage life and politics of the characters and business in addition to the in-ring/wrestling storylines (kind of like the show Heels, but focused more on the company as a whole, rather than two characters on a wrestling backdrop). I created 40+ character sheets in roughly a month, complete with gimmicks, move-sets, and what their theme song would ideally be. In late May/early June, I started writing my first pilot episode. When I finished the script, I thought I could have been in the same conversation as Shakespeare. Boy, was I wrong. It wasn’t until I had received five pages of a page-by-page script breakdown and notes explaining everything wrong with it that I realized how flawed it was. I went back and revised my script, cutting out unnecessary scenes, dialogue, and moments, and brought my 56-page script down to around 30 pages. I cut it down again a few weeks later, and then I took that script and rewrote it into a 12-page short film for my Producing for Picture class, but it was very anti-climatic, so I rewrote it again, and again, and again. By the beginning of August 2023, I had the script for “The Man Makes the Title,” which would be what I directed and produced for Production II.

Heading into the Fall 2023 semester, I felt like I was on top of the world with this script. It had two wrestling matches in it, along with unique characters and settings. I planned on working alone for this, meaning I was both the director AND producer. I raised $900+ through GoFundMe and had a pitch video that was done like a WWE promo, with the title belt and all. I was in talks with one of the Ohio-based indie-wrestling companies (which will remain unnamed), who was going to let me use some of their wrestlers in the movie, use their ring, help me find extras, and find a location to film the wrestling scene at. Everything was looking like a dream come true for this project, until I sent a follow-up email after our meeting, and heard nothing back from them for a month. I sent one last email to the company to set up a meeting. That meeting would never happen. The shooting dates were two weeks away, and I had no actors, no locations, no costumes, and no props. A month earlier, I was told by my professor that I was ahead of schedule. Now, I was worried about having nothing to turn in.

I would rewrite my script one last time, removing the wrestling sections, and changing the final scene. To my surprise, the story still worked, and it worked a lot better than I was expecting. The character arc remained unharmed, and the ending still had that satisfaction that I wanted. I secured my lead actor at 9:45 on a Tuesday night and shot his two solo scenes that Saturday in an Air BnB in Lorain with a skeleton crew. A shoot that I was expecting to only take three hours ended up taking seven, but we got some incredible shots that remotivated me until I realized that I had two more shoot days the following weekend, and still needed to find locations for one of those days.

At 11 am Friday, I met with my professor because I had no locations for my shoot on Sunday. By 3 pm, he had helped me secure both of the locations that I would need. I met with my DP that night, and we checked out one of those locations, made a shooting schedule and storyboard, and prepared for the weekend. Saturday’s shoot went very well, even with us having to start an hour late due to a crowd problem at the gym and the Uber driver canceling on one of my actors moments before he was supposed to get picked up. We wrapped with two hours left of the shoot, and that was with extra shots that my DP and AD wanted to try out. Sunday also went well, but we had to make several changes during the shoot. Nearly every shot that day required the gimbal, but the gimbal decided it didn’t want to hold a charge anymore halfway through the shoot. Instead of doing several with only one or two shots and lighting set-ups, we had to bring out the tripods and change lighting for every shot, slowing us down by a lot. We ended up getting wrapped in time, and we got all of the footage that we needed.

After we finished loading gear into vehicles, I ended up having to go on a cooldown walk with two of my friends (who were also the 1st AC and Grip on my set). I was beyond physically and mentally exhausted due to the rollercoaster that I had to deal with during pre-production. I went from being the most confident I had ever been, to doubting nearly everything. The only things I never doubted were my cast, crew, and script. Being able to finally say “That’s a wrap” was a huge relief for me, and I owe a huge “thank you” to everyone who worked on it.

My experience directing AND producing “The Man Makes the Title” was a rough one, but I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses, and I’d like to think that I’m not going to make those mistakes again.

Meet the Intern: Kasey Watkins

Hello! I’m Kasey Watkins, currently pursuing my Junior year in the Film and Media Arts program at Cleveland State University. My residences are split between Louisville and Avon Lake, Ohio. Previously, I attended The University of Toledo’s film program, transferring in the Spring of ’22 to be closer to family and friends.

My literary interests gravitate towards thriller, literary fiction, and romance genres. Among my favorite books is “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. In cinema, “Dead Poets Society” directed by Peter Weir holds a special place. Currently, I’m engrossed in the world of Bridgerton, eagerly anticipating the release of its third season.

My decision to intern with GCFC stems from a deep resonance with their values. Throughout my interactions, I’ve found an unwavering commitment to fostering growth and success, aligning seamlessly with my aspirations. This internship presents an opportunity to cultivate essential skills and knowledge vital for my professional journey. Additionally, I aim to leverage this experience to refine my career trajectory post-graduation.

Cleveland holds a special allure for me, offering a plethora of unexplored film opportunities. Envisioning my future in this vibrant city, I aspire to contribute to its film landscape by aiding in the realization of diverse cinematic projects. While my strengths lie in productivity and organization rather than creativity, I’m enthusiastic about roles that leverage these attributes effectively.

Meet the Intern: Leah Schmidt

Hello there! My name is Leah Schmidt and I am an aspiring filmmaker from Cleveland, Ohio. I recently graduated from the University of California at Berkeley this past December with a bachelor’s degree in Film and Media Arts. After graduating, I decided to move back to Cleveland to spend some time with my family as well as travel abroad before I enter the film industry full-time. During my time here in Cleveland, I plan on gaining more knowledge about the industry by getting myself involved with projects around the area as well as using my time at home to focus on my writing. When I’m not working on a set or writing in a cozy coffee shop, I can usually be spotted somewhere in a gym with a volleyball. Having competed in the Pac12 as a part of the UC Berkeley Women’s Volleyball Team, I delight in passing my expertise through coaching to aspiring young female athletes. I also enjoy dancing, hanging out with friends, baking, and learning how to play the drums.

A lot of my favorite films tend to lie in the following genres: Dramas, dark comedies, thrillers, science fiction, and horror. If you’re familiar with Letterboxd, my top four films are Midsommar, Best In Show, Black Swan, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. I’ve always enjoyed the works from directors Roman Polanski, Ari Aster, Stanley Kubrik, Darren Aronofsky, Sofia Coppola, and Greta Gerwig. Although I am always into a good plot twist, thanks to films like Pride and Prejudice, Twilight, and 10 Things I Hate About You, I would classify myself as a romcom fanatic as well. Recently, I’ve been obsessed with the Hulu TV series Abbot Elementary as well as HBO’s Big Little Lies.

I wanted to intern at the Greater Cleveland Film Commision because of their vision for Cleveland to play a larger role in the film industry. It’s inspiring to see how the GCFC has affected the number of big productions coming into the Cleveland area, providing more jobs and opportunities for people who are wanting to become a part of the industry. Through this Internship, I hope to gain more insight on how the industry works and better understand the stepping stones necessary for me to take in order to excel in my career/future. I’m looking forward to meeting like-minded creatives who also share a passion and interest in film. I hope to someday become a screenwriter whether it be for a feature length film or as a member of a writers room for a TV series. I’d love to be able to share a story that someday resonates with an audience enough to where it can impact their life in an impactful way.

Meet the Intern: Kyle Nenadovich

Hey everyone! My name is Kyle Nenadovich, and I am a screenwriter and director from Parma, Ohio. I am a Kent State alumni with a B.S. in Digital Media Production. At Kent, I worked several roles in various student productions (including writer, director, producer, assistant director, boom operator, and sound mixer). I was also involved in Kent State’s sketch-comedy show, “The Agenda” on KSU TV2, where I was a writer, actor, and host. During the Summer 2023 semester, I worked with Akron Recording Company as a production and post-production intern.

My reason for applying for the Greater Cleveland Film Commission internship was not only to make connections and learn about the projects that are coming to Northeast Ohio but to also get a deeper look at what is involved in the pre-production process and the different jobs that are needed on and off set.

I became a Digital Media Production major after my first year at Kent because I wanted to learn more about storytelling and how to make stories come to life. Since then, I have written five produced short films, two of which I directed. My recent short, “The Man Makes the Title”, has over 6,000 views on YouTube, and was self-produced and directed.

I like to write character-driven dramas with comedic undertones, but I am trying to experiment with sitcoms and psychological thrillers. My biggest inspirations for my writing are Spider-Man, various WWE/WCW storylines, and albums like My Chemical Romance’s Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys and Logic’s The Incredible True Story.

Some of my favorite movies are The Karate Kid, Whiplash, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Pulp Fiction, and The Crow. My favorite shows are Cobra Kai, The Bear, How I Met Your Mother, and Spectacular Spider-Man.

Since graduation, I have helped with three student films, a video shoot for a live music performance, and have been working on writing three short films and a TV show that I have been developing for close to two years now. I want to be able to tell the stories that I want to see on screen, and I want to inspire others to do so too.

If you would like to see some of my work, it is available to be watched at: https://kylenenadovich.com/ and at the link below.

KYLE’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL 

Meet the Intern: Cori Abele

Hi! My name is Cori Abele and I‘m from Cleveland, Ohio. I’m currently a third-year student majoring in film production as well as minoring in media production at Bowling Green State University. I’ve always had a passion for visual storytelling through the arts and realized that a career in filmmaking would be the right choice to continue this passion. I enjoy bringing stories to fruition through the lens of the camera as films are an immersive experience to transport the audience into the story that is being told. Aside from filmmaking, I enjoy drawing, painting, crocheting, reading, photography, and cheering on the Cleveland Guardians!

Some of my favorite movies are Everything Everywhere All At Once, Inception, Moulin Rouge, Pariah, Barbie, Black Widow, and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Aside from watching movies, some of my favorite TV shows that I’ve watched are Parks and Recreation, Avatar: The Last Airbender, What We Do in the Shadows, and Daredevil. All of these movies and TV shows mean a lot to me as I have deep connections with most of them because of their stories and the people I watch them with.

I wanted to intern at the Greater Cleveland Film Commission because of the opportunities they offer and because of how impactful they are to the community here in Northeast Ohio. With this internship, I’m looking forward to learning more about the film industry, as well as GCFC’s involvement in the industry. I’m also looking forward to working with and having more insightful conversations with the staff here as they are incredibly knowledgeable and supportive with incoming interns.

My career aspirations in the film and media world is to be a camera operator. The job of a camera operator is incredibly important as they aid in bringing the director’s vision to life. I would also like to be an editor as it is an accomplished feeling to bring all of the footage and audio together to create the story.

Meet the Intern: Kaitlyn Strouse

Hello, I am Kaitlyn Strouse! I am currently a student at Cleveland State University. My track in college is a post production. I stay in Cleveland during the academic school year, and I go back to my old town during the summer months or during breaks throughout the year. I will stay with my parents when I get back to my old town. My mother works at our county’s courthouse, while my father is an engineer.

I very much enjoy watching movies, both animated and live movies, and I watch some television. My preferred genres are comedy and action, and I like mystery from time to time. Some of my favorite movies are The Avengers, The League Of Extraordinary Men, as well as some comedies that Jim Carrey stars in. I am excited to also watch the new Wonka movie that was released in December 2023. A lot of what I like about the films is the dialogue, the plot, and how the movie looks.

I wanted to intern at Greater Cleveland Film Commission to get knowledge of how the industry works. As well, to work alongside professionals that are very experienced and have worked on projects around Cleveland. What I hope to get out of this experience is the ability to be able to know the industry better than I do currently. Also, I hope to use these skills I learn to jumpstart my career in the film industry. I am looking forward to getting to do some of the things in the industry even if it is something small. For me any experience is good, no matter how big or small.

Why do I want to be in the film industry? I have loved watching movies. Something just grabbed me and I didn’t know what. While during highschool I had to do a project where we had to write, film, and edit a news broadcast. It kick started my mind into thinking in film terms. It was a group project where we all would have to chip in with each part, other than the editing. I at the time was really interested in editing so I took that role as well. Doing each part was really fun, and in the end the project turned out alright. After that I was pretty set on being in the film industry. Especially in the post production world of film.

As I mentioned in that highschool project, editing was something I chose to do in that project. It was really fun putting the clips together, correcting some audio, and making the project complete. I feel like that is where my choice of going into post production solidified.In my freshman year of college we had to go over each step of filmmaking. We had to make our own scripts, we had to plan the shoots and record, and we had to edit our short films. I didn’t mind the first two tasks, but my post production class is where I feel I excelled best at. During my sophomore year, I am taking post production II and visual effects and I love what I am doing in those classes. In post production we are still learning how to edit, and we are given some more challenging footage to work with. As for visual effects, learning how to animate text, or objects, or just making animations is fascinating to do. I really enjoy learning what I can animate. With being so passionate about the post production aspect, I believe that is the direction I would like to take my career into. If I needed to I would branch out to the different departments, however I am just in love with post production.

Meet the Intern: Kevin Ng

Hello! My name is Kevin Ng and I’m a freelance photographer and cinematographer from Lakewood, Ohio! I started learning filmmaking in high school at St. Edward and enrolled in the rigorous International Baccalaureate film programme. My passion for cinema was instilled by amazing teachers who taught me that film can be a powerful language of many emotions. Empathy with characters is the most important part
of a film to me. When we created a short documentary called “Razzle Dazzle” that premiered at the CIFF,  that made me realize I wanted to be a filmmaker for life.

It led me to pursue a film studies degree at Baldwin Wallace University. Through college, I’ve made many great friends who I’ve grown with and learned from. It’s important to value relationships, both personal and professional! It’s always important to be nice and to be grateful for who you’re working with.

My favorite movies are from Hong Kong director Wong Kar-wai. Some of my top favorites are Fallen Angels, 2046, and In the Mood for Love. I guess you can say I’m a sucker for dramatic romance movies! Currently, I’m watching the X-Files!

Although I’ve been freelancing and doing independent work in Cleveland for many awesome individuals from all walks of life and professions (such as fashion, music, and business), I haven’t quite made the leap into the major leagues! The GCFC is an important organization that brings film to Ohio and helps individuals learn more about the film industry and get real insight and help. So I reached out because some of my friends were interns!

As a shadow for a day, I am grateful and appreciative of the hard working people at GCFC who commit to uplifting Cleveland filmmakers. They’re understanding and embracing. So far my day here has been met with kind people who have so much experience and knowledge in many areas in the industry. I’m looking forward to seeing the faces of those who bring film to Cleveland because I believe in this city and the people!

I hope that I can learn from GCFC and make that leap into professional film sets and get a start as a
PA! My goal is to become a director of photography, so hopefully I can get involved in the camera
department!

You can check out my portfolio here:
https://kevinng.myportfolio.com/portaits

Or keep up with my latest film photography here:

https://www.instagram.com/character_studies_/

Meet the Intern: Aiden Killeen

Hi, my name is Aidan Killeen and I am a student at Cleveland State University’s film school. I’m actively pursuing my Baccalaureate of Arts and I’m currently in my final year (hopefully). I’m a big fan of being both in front of and behind the camera, but more recently I’ve taken up the torch for the “it sucks but someone has to do it” jobs on set such as PA, grip, and sound on very long takes (my shoulders scream in agony whenever I see a boom pole). I mostly chose to go into film because of my childhood of watching westerns like Gunsmoke and Bonanza as well as M*A*S*H with my grandmother, who loved the romanticized idea of the plucky but occasionally moronic heroes of yore. There’s nothing quite like the gunslinging action hero from the 50s-70s. And I must admit, it absolutely grew on me.

One day in highschool, I was thinking about my favorite movie Dante’s Peak and wondered, “How did they actually make that?” So naturally when I got home I completely forgot about all my homework and found the ‘behind the scenes’ for the movie online and loved every second of it. So the next year I signed up for film classes and loved every second of it. Of course, what I made wasn’t cinema reel ready (and couldn’t be farther from it actually), but I loved to actually make something that I could show people that wasn’t math problems on a homework page. So naturally I stuck with it and eventually found my way to Cleveland State University’s film school.

I’ve been in film school for nearly four years now and I can honestly say that I love it and have learned more in my four years there than I have anywhere else. After I heard that I had gotten the internship at the Greater Cleveland Film Commission I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe it! I could finally learn from people actively in the industry instead of people who washed up and became teachers who teach like it’s 1999 and HD was just invented. I can finally learn what goes into a location scout, or a script breakdown, or a budget, and so on in terms of the current climate of the film industry. I hope that I can apply what I learn and make the films I want to make. Weather it be as a lone man with a cheap camera or a massive hollywood production, and anywhere in between.