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‘Shoot the Stars’ — Professional actors work for students in school’s film program

Sometimes learning on the job is the best experience.

gomez_adrian_sigThis is the premise behind Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s “Shoot the Stars” program.

Each of the past five years, the program has brought in professional actors for a short film. The kicker is that the actors will work for a crew of students. The students write, direct and produce the production.

This year, Stephanie Cleough, Terry Dale Parks and Alex Knight came into work on the student film “Bleeding Hearts.”

Cleough has had roles in “The Originals,” “Legends of Tomorrow” and “The Mentalist.” Parks has been in “The Astronaut Wives’ Club,” “Nashville” and “Longmire.” And Knight, who is based in New Mexico, has been in “Sicario” and “The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials.”

The film centers on a young woman fighting to keep her sanity despite her haunted past.

“Bleeding Hearts” is co-directed by students Michelle Bolin and PD Gleason.

“I never had an issue with directing my film,” Bolin says. “I was in the military and in a leadership role. Working with a co-director, we became a symbiotic unit. We were able to compromise on what we needed to.”

Gleason echoes the same sentiment.

“I think at the heart of directing is a creative and collaborative process, and you are pushing boundaries,” Gleason says. “That’s what we were doing. It was constantly challenging, because we wanted to make it better. And we looked for the best way to tell a story.”

SFUAD students worked for four months getting the project off the ground.

Since production wrapped, the students are now editing the film.

The pair expect to have the film completed by May and will take a run at the film festival circuit.

“This annual program enables our students to work in real-world Hollywood production scenarios, giving them a leg up in the profession when they graduate from Film School,” says Liam Lockhart, chairman of the Film School at SFUAD. “Other departments continue to collaborate with the Film School during ‘Shoot the Stars,’ as well, including the Contemporary Music Program for original songs, to wardrobe and background actors from the performing arts department.”

Bolin is majoring in film production, with a minor in fine arts studio – specifically, painting. She has had the privilege of working on several short films, including a Wyoming media campaign on underage drinking, feature films, music videos, commercials and theatrical productions.

Gleason has served as the creative director for Cinecove Productions, and as a freelance producer for “Earth Day Texas 2016” and a freelance assistant director on the feature “Painted.”

“Film is what I will be doing after graduation,” Gleason says.

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.