New Apple TV+ movie: Cameos and hands-on experience for students

Visual and performing arts students often apply what they learn. Their projects include everything from producing a film on campus (pictured) to working on the set of a new feature film – one of the benefits of living in an area that often attracts major film producers.

A story of heartbreak, romance and beauty set against the world-famous Humboldt redwoods, “The Sky is Everywhere” debuts on Apple TV+ on February 11. Alongside the feature’s movie stars, several Humboldt teachers, students, and alumni were cast as actors, dancers, and production assistants. The film, shot in 2020, is the latest to be shot on the North Shore, giving Humboldt students unparalleled access to hands-on learning opportunities in the creative and digital arts.

Amelia Resendez graduated with a theater arts degree in 2021. While still attending Cal Poly Humboldt, Resendez heard about the casting call for “The Sky is Everywhere” from one of her instructors. After submitting a video audition, per pandemic protocols, Resendez was cast as the high school student/cinema attendant in the film.

“I absolutely loved the experience. It was exciting to learn what it’s like to be on a film set,” Resendez says. “Filmmaking has always been something I never thought I could get into, but working on ‘The Sky is Everywhere’ made me want to go further.”

According to Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commissioner Cassandra Hesseltine, more than 500 locals were hired to work on the technical and creative elements of “The Sky is Everywhere.” She says production companies regularly hire and train students while filming in the area.

“Humboldt and his people are like a character when you think about it,” says Hesseltine. “It gives it a texture that the film wouldn’t otherwise have.”

Theater arts teacher Rae Robison was also cast in the film, playing a deli owner and employer of lead character Lennie Walker, 17, a beaming musical prodigy who struggles with heartbreak following the sudden loss of her older sister. . The film, directed by Josephine Decker, is an adaptation of the 2010 young adult novel of the same name.

During filming, Robison was thrilled to meet some of her current and former students, cast as dancers, costume designers and production assistants, on set.

“These types of location-based learning opportunities are more in line with what you see in Los Angeles or a big city. Living in Humboldt with its incredible scenery attracts big-name producers and film companies, who then give our students the chance to build their CVs and see professionals at work,” says Robison.

Rae teaches a senior seminar for theater arts, film and dance majors where students build their professional toolkit and focus on career development. “The goal is to help them land opportunities in the industry after graduation.”

Robison is excited about the University’s recent polytechnic designation, which underscores the importance of vocational training and workforce development in the arts.

“You can’t have ROD without creative thinkers or problem solvers,” she explains. “Drama and film can be incredibly technical, but it’s essential that students develop the empathetic perspective that comes from the arts.”

As a polytechnic, the University will add 27 programs over the next seven years, including a Bachelor of Arts in Digital and Media Arts, slated for 2026. The new program will provide hands-on, skills-building experience in digital graphics, photography, film, video, audio and music recording, augmented reality, virtual reality and emerging technologies.

“Creative digital technologies are embedded in nearly every sector of the workforce,” says film professor Dave Jannetta. “The Arts and Digital Media program will prepare students for employment in the entertainment, business, journalism, music, and arts industries through service learning and interdisciplinary partnerships that provide professional development opportunities for our students.”

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