He’s surrounded by hundreds of people. Many are wearing headsets talking in codes and acronyms while others are racing between trailers. It’s hot and muggy, and underneath scores of bright lights, the temperature is almost unbearable. As if on cue, all the people stop what they’re doing and focus their attention on a few key individuals. This is what he’s studied for: to be on a major film set.
That was last summer in Miami, Fla. He now sits comfortably on his couch in Anderson, Ind. Textbooks rest open on the coffee table, and the slow whirl of the ceiling fan hums over his introspective thoughts. He’s thinking; he’s writing in his mind. He expresses his thoughts through the art of writing, specifically script-writing.
What might he turn this scene into? An action thriller? A drama? Where might this scene take place? Who would play the characters? What would the characters say? What type of accent would they have?
Michael Ulrich is a senior at Anderson University studying communications with an emphasis in broadcast. He has a great desire to write and produce movies after he graduates, and he believes he has the skill and know-how to accomplish that goal. He has almost completed his undergraduate degree, and he recently completed a summer internship with USA Network’s Burn Notice in Miami, Fla.
Ulrich and four other interns rotated through different departments to gain a better understanding of how the film business worked, Ulrich’s favorite department was the Art Department, where he used Photoshop to create passports and pictures as props on the set. An average day for Ulrich, while on Burn Notice, consisted of being on set by 6:30 a.m. “It’s hectic, but it’s a controlled chaos,” said Ulrich. “We go there not really knowing what’s going to happened during the day but every 10 to 15 minutes is planned.” Someone walking in from the outside would probably say, “Wow, this looks like a mess.” But, Ulrich said everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing because there are schedules set every day.
“My greatest difficulty in pursuing my goal is the industry itself,” said Ulrich. There’s a saying that everyone in L.A. has a script to sell. So everyone is trying to get into the industry, and just the sheer number of people makes it difficult. Money is tight right now. “Hollywood is making fewer movies than they usually do, so that makes my life more difficult, too”
“Luck and prayer are the two ways I’m going to make my dream a reality,” said Ulrich. He has kept strong connections with the Burn Notice internship supervisor down on the set in Miami. Ulrich has also considered finding somewhere cheap to live with a bunch of production people to shoot their own films and get those into festivals. “It’s just taking the opportunities whenever they’re given to me,” said Ulrich.
-Melissa Powers is a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Joshua Mifflin, a senior majoring in communication arts and Spanish, contributed to this story. Powers and Mifflin are associates with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2009, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the sixth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.