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WHS student spends summer at dream job

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 2005 5:37 am    Post subject: WHS student spends summer at dream job Reply with quote

WHS student spends summer at dream job, working with film elite
By David Brooks Andrews/ Townsman Correspondent
Thursday, August 4, 2005

For someone who wants to go to film school when he graduates from Wellesley High, Rory Brennan landed himself a dream summer job.

He has been working as a production assistant on the film set of "The Departed" when director Martin Scorsese is shooting outdoors in Boston and needs extra hands. So far Brennan has worked approximately 10 days on the set.

His job has involved keeping crew members quiet when the cameras are rolling, cueing extras, printing out call sheets for cast and crew and making sure film personnel get the transportation they need. "I do whatever they ask to make sure things run smoothly," said Brennan, who will be a high school junior this fall.

His toughest days actually have been nights, two back-to-back all nighters in Chinatown. Part of his job has been keeping bystanders off the set and quiet. This wasn't always easy when they were drunk and belligerent.

"I had to keep my wits about me," said Brennan. "I didn't have any problems with anybody, but I heard a couple of the production assistants did, when girls flooded out of bars and discovered that Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio were right around the corner," said Brennan. "The girls freaked out."

After one of the all-nighters, at 5 a.m., Damon praised Brennan for a job well done. It helped make the night all the more worthwhile.

The other unforgettable shoot was when they filmed a Rugby scene on the Boston Common, and it not only rained, as they expected, but the rain turned into a torrential downpour. "I was soaked to the bone," said Brennan. "Then I put on rain gear and it kept the water in."

But there have been plenty of rewards to make up for it. As the youngest person on the set, other than a couple of actors, 16 year-old Brennan has been working in the presence of some of Hollywood's biggest stars-DiCaprio, Damon, Jack Nicholson and Martin Sheen-and one of its most famous directors, Scorsese.

For a film buff who has religiously watched "Apocalypse Now," written about it for a film studies class at Wellesley High, and seen it an estimated 250 times, Brennan's biggest thrill has been working alongside Sheen, one of the stars of "Apocalypse Now." "He's the nicest guy, super friendly," said Brennan. "He does not have the presence of a guy who's better than you. He has no problems signing autographs. He eats with the crew, right next to the Teamsters. And he's such a great actor."

Nicholson and DiCaprio have stuck more to business, not stopping much to talk to people, observed Brennan. But he said that Damon has been particularly friendly with the fans. One day after filming in South Boston, he hung around on a street corner for 45 minutes signing autographs. "The police were around and he had bodyguards, but they were lingering," said Brennan.

He described "The Departed" as a cops and gangsters film set in contemporary South Boston. It's scheduled to come out in 2006, if all goes well.

"In the now"

Being around actors isn't exactly new to Brennan. As the son of Nora Hussey, chair of the theater department at Wellesley College and founder and artistic director of Wellesley Summer Theatre, he has acted in several theater productions, filmed a couple of others, and hung around a lot of actors.

Hussey was able to connect her son with the first assistantdirector of "Departed," Joseph Reidy, who hired him. Hussey knew Reidy from his work on "Mona Lisa Smile" while it was being filmed on the Wellesley College campus. But her son was the one who convinced Reidy that he could handle the job, she said.

Brennan has worked at several local skateboard shops, including "Blade, Board and Skate" before it went out of business. He now works as a salesman for Eastern Board as his schedule permits. "It's pretty lax, not too stressful, he said. "There are really cool guys who work over there. At a skate shop, you can take things as they come, but on a film set, it's really important that everything flies. It's very in the now."

He had high praise for the film studies classes taught by Mr. Mustard at Wellesley High in which they watch films and write papers about them. And he has been equally pleased with the school's television and video production department, their digital cameras and editing equipment, and the teachers, Lynn Moore Benson and John Brown.

Baseball rhythms

Brennan has soaked up everything he can while on set of "The Departed." The biggest surprise to him was that it can take 14 hours and a huge crew to shoot a two-minute scene.

He likened the process to the rhythms of a baseball game. "Like baseball, it's kind of slow and nothing's really happening until the ball is pitched.Some parts of the day you are running around doing stuff, and then you can stand there and do nothing for two hours straight."

One of the biggest challenges for him is not dazing out during the slow times. Also refraining from what he really would like to do but knows he can't as a crew member, like ask Nicholson for an autograph and praise Sheen for his work in "Apocalypse Now." He finds he also has to hold back from consuming all the coffee on the set.

"The thing I've enjoyed most about the job is the feeling that you're contributing , that things are running on the set and somehow it's partly thanks to you," said Brennan.

While Scorsese and his cast and crew have temporarily left Massachusetts, Brennan and his mom are taking a two-week vacation in France. His dad, Hussey's husband, Kieran Brennan, reluctantly decided to stay home in order to get a new real estate sales job up and running.

When Rory returns to America, he wants to make a short film with a friend based on Johnny Cash's song "A Boy Named Sue." He imagines the film as a Quentin Tarantino shoot 'em up, but has no idea what they'll actually settle on

And when "The Departed" film crew returns to Massachusetts later in the summer, he'll be ready to work with them again, so long as it's before Wellesley High starts up again, and he's back in film classes.
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