Fast Times at The Asylum

Given the industry’s current state, with the writer’s strike putting all major studios at a standstill, I am very fortunate to have taken up a gig at a production company like The Asylum. Although you may not recognize the company, you would recognize some of their previous works, mainly the infamous “Sharknado” franchise and their hit show “Z Nation” on SyFy. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg; the company has been in business for over 25 years now and bolsters a catalog of hundreds of films, or “mockbusters,” as they are affectionately titled. Put simply, The Asylum is in the business of taking topical blockbusters and putting its signature spin on them. Some hardcore film enthusiasts might not deem this a legitimate contribution to the art form, but I would tend to disagree. Here is my testimony:

I am one of four Syracuse interns at The Asylum this summer, and we have all been split into different departments, ensuring we can all bounce around the company and try out different roles at our leisure. My friend, fellow Syracuse student Ethan Mitchell, and I were assigned to the production team, and on the very first day of my internship, we were sent to the set of “The Exorcists.” I was exhilarated. I have been lucky enough to participate in several student film shoots at SU, but being on location in LA county and working with actual professionals in the field was such a novel experience that is the whole reason I came out here in the first place. From the first day, I have been doing my due diligence as a PA or production assistant, meaning I help out in any way, shape or form. My interpretation of being a PA is that you act as the on-set yes man; there is no request you will not accept. I have helped grips set up lights, disassemble cameras with ACs, and operate special effects; they even let me be an extra in a movie! (look for me in Alien Apocalypse, coming soon to streaming near you).

The beauty of being a PA is that you are in a position on set where you can witness all the different departments’ operations and occasionally even help and learn a thing or two from them. You can’t learn these things any other way than just doing them, and it can be very helpful for those who know they want to make movies but are unsure what role they want to take. I have learned so much about filmmaking over the past few weeks, and I continue to learn more daily. With new productions starting every week (they aim to put out 2-3 movies a month!), the madness is far from over, and I am excited to see where The Asylum will take me next. Thank you for your time!

Dylan Rode is a senior in the television, radio and film program at the Newhouse School.