'Dolphin Tale' is extra special to Delaware native

Sussex Tech grad spends time on set
October 3, 2011
Sussex Tech graduate Carly Marconi, left, is shown at the Clearwater, Fla. premiere of "A Dolphin Tale" with senior Heather Lofthus, a fellow film studies student at Southeastern University. SOURCE SUBMITTED

While the ocean-centric film 'A Dolphin Tale' may have resonance to many living in coastal Sussex, it means even more to one Delaware native, former Sussex Technical High School student Carly Marconi, who was able to spend time on the set, and can even be seen in a couple shots.

Marconi, a junior majoring in film studies at Southeastern University in Florida, responded to an email from the head of the communications department that announced auditions for extras in the film. The problem was that the filming was taking place 90 minutes away, and Marconi was without a car of her own. "I was able to convince a couple friends to drive," Marconi said. "I wanted to be on an actual film set because I thought it was a great way to learn about film. We can make our own films for school, but I wanted to learn hands-on from people in the industry - to observe and make possible connections."

She not only observed, but had a chance to meet the director himself, Charles Martin Smith, the veteran actor from "American Graffiti" and "The Untouchables," and director of films such as "Air Bud" and "The Stone of Destiny." "He came over and introduced himself to me," she said. "He was really nice to everyone."

Marconi said the visit to the set helped her realize the magnitude of preparation for a big-budget production. "I noticed the attention to detail of everything," she said. After leaving at 4:30 a.m. to be on the Clearwater set by 6 a.m., she was shuttled to the set with other cast and crew members in a 15-passenger van. "All the roads leading to the set were shut down," she said. When she arrived, she picked up a few filmmaking techniques. "I learned about following the sun for a shot," she said. Since filming was from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., the entire set was shifted around so that the light from above cast roughly the same shadows.

"I also noticed how detailed everything was," she said. "Everyone was responsible for a very specific job. One guy had to replenish the food, another had to apply sunscreen. And they each had to do their job effectively and accurately."

Long after her days wrapped, Marconi was invited back to watch the Clearwater red-carpet premiere of the film. "That was something I just couldn't miss," she said.

Marconi said the entire experience motivated her even more to fulfill her dream of becoming a producer. (She’s already on her way, with two credits on her own Internet Movie Database page.) But she also realized there are other avenues in which one can live the dream of working in the film industry. “From being a lawyer to a landscaper, you really can find a way,” she said.

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