Eleanor West ’10 taught several current students the tricks of the motion picture trade by allowing them to intern for her on the set of  the indie horror film that she is producing, titled “POD.”

The students worked on location in Round Pond, Maine, from February to early March.

Directed by Mickey Keating, the movie is about siblings who visit a brother in an isolated house on the suspicion that something strange is going on with him. Keating has done one other horror movie, “Ritual.”

West reached out to Bowdoin students through the theater department. Five students, Monica Das ’14, Nicolas Magalhaes ’15, Kiyomi Mino ’16, Natalie LaPlant ’16 and Christina Sours ’16, interned on set and did a wide range of tasks.

The interns learned how crews create illusion for the audience. When they were on set they were mostly setting up the scenes about to shoot, which included shoveling snow to perfect various shots.

“The magic of film is that the fourth wall of the camera can always trick you,” said Magalhaes. “They may only have an inch and a half behind them but they’ll make it look like it’s a huge space.”

“POD” was mostly filmed at the house of West’s stepbrother, Will Frank. Working in one house with a small cast and crew meant that many of them stayed in the house together.

“Since the protagonist is a hoarder, the house looks filthy on purpose,” said West. “But that’s a challenge when you’re living in the house.”

Like most indie films, “POD” had a relatively low budget. For the director and producers, however, this meant they had more control over the film.

“I imagine things would be easier with more money, but when everyone knows each other, it’s also easier,” said West. 

The film is less of a gruesome slasher and more a psychological thriller.

Working in a small town was a mixed bag for the cast and crew. The local authorities were easily accessible, but the film drew a lot of attention.

“When you have actors screaming at all times of the day, that presents a problem,” said West.
The students enjoyed working on a small production because it gave them more exposure to the film process.

“We could talk to the director; we could talk to the cinematographer,” said Magalhaes. “They were not uptight, despite the fact that it was a 12-day shoot—every minute counted.”

West was an English major at Bowdoin, but her career trajectory has been anything but linear. She has worked as a photographer, a congressional campaign staffer and an intern at a horror production house. West said she advises Bowdoin students to be open to varied opportunities.

“Don’t be afraid to try a lot of different careers. Don’t feel like the first one has to stick,” she said. 
Although being a producer is more about organization and logistics than it is about artistry, knowing what to look for in a shot helps smooth the process.

To students who want to break into the film industry, West said an open mind goes a long way.
“Say yes to everything, whether that’s being an unpaid production assistant, an intern or working on a set,” she said.

Since this is the first film West has worked on, she has been learning cinema secrets alongside the interns.

“I learned that shaving cream gets paint and fake blood off walls easily,” she said. “I never would have thought I’d be doing this.”