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Want to be in movies?
Class gives tips to get you in front of camera
By Michelle Stuckey -   Feb 24, 2011

Have you ever wanted to be an extra in a Hollywood movie? What about a production assistant or casting aide?
With so many production companies now filming in the area, working on-set can be a great way to earn a little extra money or experience.
Finding out how to get involved in the growing film industry in southeast Louisiana is just one thing you can learn about through the St. Charles Parish Community Education program this spring.

Gary Michael Smith is the author of many books on the film industry, photography, writing and more. With the growing popularity of southeast Louisiana as a filming location, Smith said that his “You should be in the movies!” community education class is more valuable than ever.


“The class is about working in the film industry, not just being an extra,” Smith said.


Smith said he gets a variety of people in class, including retirees, professionals and people who are unemployed. In the class, he will offer tips on how to find work and be successful in the film industry.


“The key to being a movie extra is to be available,” he said. “If you're not immediately available the day they call you, they move on.”


He will also be teaching a class on photography called “Photographic Composition: Moving From Amateur to Pro.”


“The class is about taking your photography to the next level…and making snapshots look professional,” he said.
“You should be in the movies!” is $60 and will meet on March 15 and 22. “Photographic Composition” costs $100 and will meet on March 30 and April 6, 13 and 20.


Besides photography and film, the community education program offers classes on everything from cooking and gardening to business and fitness.


Jan Thompson of Des Allemands has been teaching the “Cooking Cajun” class for years and said that it is extremely popular. The class focuses on traditional Cajun recipes, rather than quick or low-fat.


“My dad taught me to cook. My family’s been here for generations on both sides so I have always loved and done a fairly good job with real Cajun cooking,” Thompson said. “A lot of people have told me that the class is a nice evening out to not only learn how to do something that they can show off later, but also to get a nice supper.”


Participants get the chance to cook and try a number of real Cajun recipes during the class and even take home some leftovers.


“People tell me, for $10 I couldn’t get a supper like this anywhere,” Thompson said.


The “Cooking Cajun” class costs $50 and meets on Wednesdays from March 16 to April 13.


One of the most popular classes each year is belly dancing. Instructor Sami Young said that belly dancing is a nice break from traditional dance or exercise classes because participants get to listen to music they wouldn’t hear anywhere else and it challenges their mind and body.


“A big intent of mine is to make people feel good about themselves and comfortable with each other - to build community and self esteem,” Young said.


The belly dancing class fills up quickly and will be held on Tuesdays from March 15 to April 19 and costs $40. Young added a new intermediate class this year for people who have already taken the regular belly dance class.


The intermediate course will be held on the same dates and also costs $40.


Jayne Tate, program coordinator, said that each year the most popular classes are the cooking, dancing and canvas painting classes.


“We offer learning opportunities for people of all ages,” Tate said. “We have something for everyone and are a key part of what makes St. Charles Parish a vital, vibrant community.”


The program has been in place for over 20 years and Tate said that its popularity has grown each year.


The deadline to register for community education classes is Monday, Feb. 28. Registration is available by mail, walk-in, after-hours drop box or over the phone with a Visa or Mastercard. For a review of spring classes and a registration form, visit www.stcharles.k12.la.us and click on Community Education Registration or call (985)785-7268 and speak with a program coordinator.

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