Acting and Crewing Information
ANY and ALL SMU current students, incoming students, and alumni can take part in the Summer Film Production (SFP), whether in planning, the shoot itself, or in post-production. This is designed to be a fun, collaborative, educational experience so all are welcome.
That does not mean, however, that anyone can automatically take any role or is guaranteed a particular crew job or cast role. An overview of cast and crew selection procedures and restrictions can be found here; for more detailed information, see the "Acting / Casting" and/or "Crewing" sections of our FAQs page.
Crew Head Requirements
All crew heads (director, producer, production mixer, DP, production designer, costume designer, casting director, editor, gaffer, 1st AD) must be “SMU Students.” For purposes of cast/crew selection, this category includes currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students and alumni who have graduated in the 3 years prior to filming (i.e. for the 2017-19 SFP, which shot May 2018, alumni who graduated from May 2015 onward were eligible).
For anyone wishing to be considered as a crew head (with a potential exception for producers – see next section), stronger consideration is given to those who have worked on-set on at least one previous SMU Summer Film Production. This is to ensure that those in charge of each department have been through the production process on a large-scale student-run project before and know what it entails. This is not a "hard and fast" requirement, but will be viewed favorably by the director/producer selection committee, as well as during the crew head selection process.
In short, if you're potentially interested in being a crew head on a future SFP (when you're a junior or senior) you should make sure you're involved with the one happening when you're a freshman or sophomore.
Prospective crew heads should also have completed advanced-level course work in the appropriate specialty prior to the production. For instance, DPs and gaffers should have taken Cinematography, mixers should have taken at least Sound 1, at least one of the producers should have taken Film Producing, etc.
Because getting to direct or produce the Summer Film Project is both an honor and a major responsibility, including oversight of a large budget and a large student crew, anyone wishing to be considered as a producer and/or director for this project must apply through a rigorous selection process. This is to ensure that the students selected to take on these core roles have the commitment, training, and ability to handle such demanding roles. Anyone interested in directing and/or producing an SFP should read through ALL the information on this website thoroughly, including ALL the FAQs, so as to be familiar with every aspect of how the SFP works.
Additionally, to ensure that the project is seen through to completion in post-production, at least one of the director(s)/producer(s) MUST be continuing at SMU at least a year after the shoot. Thus at least one of the people in a package must be a junior or younger. Because of this requirement, often at least one of the producers in a submission package will be someone who has NOT worked on a prior Summer Film Production – but in such cases it is advantageous for the package to also include at least one producer who HAS worked on one.
The selected script(s) are announced for a given cycle in May, leaving the summer for prospective producers/directors to read the script(s), think about a creative vision, and put together a team. In the fall, prospective producer/director teams will FIRST pitch on their creative plans for a script, then one or more teams will be chosen based on those pitches to do a second pitch a few weeks later detailing their budget, logitical plans, etc. Details on the application packages and process can be found on the SFP FAQs page here.
Normally, one of the director/producer teams will be selected, though the faculty may opt to suggest additional producers to add to the package as appropriate. The faculty advisor will also serve as Executive Producer to provide guidance and advice through the process, and may assist with producing duties as appropriate. In the case that no suitable director/producer application is received, the faculty may either opt to cancel that year’s project and wait for another round of applications next year, or to solicit additional applications.
Cast/Crew Selection (other than crew heads)
Aside from the director and producer roles, selection of all other crew positions and all cast will be at the discretion of the director(s)/producer(s), with input on crew heads from a faculty committee, subject to the crew head restrictions above. At least 70% of the crew heads must be current SMU students as of the start of the 2-year SFP cycle (the percentage may be less by the end of the cycle if some crew heads graduate during the production).