Behind the Screen: Talking 'New Day Dawning' with Post Production Assistants Katie Pappas and Brantley Waller
Over the past year, creative minds across the country have pushed boundaries and broke barriers to continuing to create their art. Here at Auburn University Theatre, our production season has done exactly that. From Zoom productions to audio plays, we have experimented with a wide variety of mediums in which theatre can safely reach an audience.
Taking that one step further, we start out 2021 with blending musical theatre and film into a musical cabaret, “New Day Dawning: Finding Hope at the Theatre”. The added element of filming a production has brought numerous new roles for members of our community. Including film positions, where AU theatre students Katie Pappas and Brantley Waller worked as post-production assistants with The Auburn University’s Media Production Group.
Katie Pappas is a junior BFA performance major whose previous credits include Masquerader/Servant in “The Belle’s Stratagem”, understudy for Agnes in “Marion Bridge” and Meg in “Little Women”. Brantley Waller is a senior BFA performance major as well as a visual media and Spanish major. Her previous Auburn credits include Audio Describer for “Alabama Love Stories”, Little Stone in “Eurydice”, Flutter in “The Belle’s Stratagem”, Louise in “Marion Bridge” and Elvira in “Blithe Spirit”.
As a visual media major, Waller “loves everything about the production, from pre to post to pro” and hopes to one day make a film as well. She said “Getting to see them all do the thing, and picking up the jargon, and making an efficient film, you learn all the things you need to know. It’s practical application.”
Pappas was also eager to join the project because as a theatre major, she is not exposed to as much film work and camera acting. She said, “It’s good to familiarize yourself with all the different modes of storytelling.” Pappas felt that this was an especially helpful learning experience because everyone at the MPG “is actively working in the field and use industry-standard editing equipment like AVID and DaVinci for color grading.”
Pappas and Waller were on set whenever possible to help “shoot for the edit.” They would be “looking for continuity errors between takes, run a camera, or help with shot lists.” A great thing about working with MPG was they provided an open forum to ask questions, giving the students space to also learn. Katie discussed how they would “always explain why certain lighting and camera adjustments were made.”
One of the challenges during filming was how to transpose something that felt like a theatrical performance to film. In order to maintain that element, the actors weren’t lip-syncing. There were multiple takes with all songs performed, every time. Without tiring out the actors’ voices, the production team worked hard to find that perfect balance between a good shot and a good performance. The process was more about creating something that felt like it preserved the director’s vision and sparked the feeling of witnessing a live performance.
Waller said that one of the benefits of filming was “it makes theatre more accessible.”
While Waller loves being in the room, because there is an act of creation with the audience, this medium helps a larger audience experience the performance that otherwise might not have been able to.
Pappas felt that this “still would’ve been a cool production to be a part of even if COVID wasn’t a thing [because it is] allowing the theatre to expand its creative resources and be innovative with its ideas of narrative [and hopes that] even after the pandemic, it will be something the department continues to do.”
Pappas said the show has been a “huge undertaking [with only] three months between the first rehearsal and the final edit for a feature-length project, which is unheard of.” She believes that this show has been the ultimate collaborative project, despite the pandemic. Everyone managed to all come together under the goal of fulfilling Chase’s vision.
Waller agreed and said, “This show was made in a time where it was hard to do all of that, but it was done.”
“While it is cheesy,” Waller remarked, “it was inspiring and hopeful on set. We can and will still find ways to make theatre happen.”
Both Pappas and Waller hope audiences enjoy “New Day Dawning”!
Conceived and Directed by Chase Bringardner
Musical Director James Mablin
Choreographer Jeri Dickey
Available for Viewing: March 18th @ 5 PM – March 28th 2021
Last Updated: March 16, 2021