|Kevin Kiemen (center) on the set of The Avengers with actor Tom Hiddleston (right), who plays Loki, and Loki stunt double, Paul Lacovara (left).|
Imagine being a part of the Hollywood magic in producing and directing a Blockbuster movie. UMD graduate Kevin Kiemen ('12) spent his 2011 summer on the set in Pittsburgh, Penn., as a Production Assistant (PA) for Director Joss Whedon. Whedon is popular for directing Sci-Fi’s Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Kiemen was able to join Whedon and the crew as an intern for The Avengers movie, beginning the preparation of his dream career as the next big film director.
KIEMEN’S LUCKY BREAK
Because Kiemen’s aunt knows the sister of Nick Satriano, who is the first assistant director, he had an instant connection. She passed her nephew's name on and the rest is history. Many people think of PA’s as being the coffee gophers for the rest of the cast and crew. "Funny thing is," said Kiemen, "I was never the coffee gopher. I was the ‘director’s voice.' I would relay messages to the cast.”
There was also a second unit, directed by John Mahaffie, where Kiemen would “hang around and help out” when needed. The second unit was where they shot the big explosions and used stunt teams. The entire last scene of the movie took place on two and a half streets in Cleveland, Ohio, rather than Pittsburgh.
ONE-ON-ONE WITH THE STARS
As an outgoing individual who loves sports, Kiemen fit right in with the directors who were also huge sports fans. “On the second day of filming, I was able to enjoy a day of golfing with the directors. I was one of the youngest people on the crew; the only person from the Midwest on the set.” After filming, he was offered to help with the production of the Expendables 2 in Japan. Kiemen chose to finish his degree at UMD. “I’ll have more opportunities for experiencing film after I graduate.”
During his internship, Kiemen was able to meet all the actors and crew. “But my favorite actor I met would be Robert Downy Jr.; who played Iron Man in the movie. He is quite the 'prankster' and would come up behind me, tap me on the shoulder and pretend it wasn’t him. On the other hand, it was a nice surprise when Tom Hiddleston, who played Loki in the movie, ended up being one of the nicest guys I’ve met in my life."
JOURNEY TO THE TOP
Kiemen worked 14 hour days and two or three meals were provided every day, which were catered by restaurants serving everything from swordfish to any cut of steak imaginable.
Before Kiemen reaches his goal as a film director, he needs to work as a production assistant for 600 days of production. After that, he will apply to join the DGA (Directors Guild of America) and present to a panel of eight members, “at this point, I know five of the members.” After the panel, Kiemen becomes a second second assistant director, second assistant director, and so on, until he becomes a film director.
“UMD and the theater department have given me the confidence that I never thought was imaginable. The professors helped me throughout my career in college; from teaching me to work hard to being professional, while sticking true to my personality. I am truly glad that I went to UMD; I couldn't see myself having been a student anywhere else.”
Written by Christina Higgins, June 2012