By SCOTT AUST
Just six years removed from high school, Stanton County native Trent Kendrick has a summer blockbuster movie under his belt.
Kendrick, 24, worked as news coordinator on the movie, "White House Down", an action-thriller opening June 28 about an assault on the White House by a paramilitary group starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx and directed by Roland Emmerich, who also directed "Independence Day" and "The Day After Tomorrow."
"Being 23 at the time, it was a daunting task," he said. "I'm sitting in a production meeting with people I have been studying in film school. It was overwhelming at times."
Kendrick, a senior at the University of Southern California majoring in film production, was hired by the director, Emmerich, who is a friend. Kendrick took the semester off last fall and moved to Montreal, Canada, where the movie was shot between July and December 2012.
As news coordinator, Kendrick's job involved creating the content and information for the fictional news broadcasts and reports taking place during the movie.
"I was responsible for generating all the content you see on the televisions in the movie. There are constant news reports playing during plot points bringing you along, and the actors are interacting with that throughout the film," he said.
Much of that content wasn't completely scripted because some of it airs in the background, Kendrick said. His job involved going through the script and trying to think like a reporter would in reporting events on the ground, such as explosions and gunfire.
Kendrick said he worked with a casting director to help cast the reporters in the film, and the actors did a lot of improvisation in reacting to events in the film as if it occurred live.
After the scenes were shot, Kendrick worked with editors and a visual effects company to create graphics for the fictional news companies.
While there was a lot of pressure involved, Kendrick said working on the movie was an amazing learning experience that will aid him after graduation.
"I personally want to direct," he said. "This was different from working on an independent film, or even the short films I work on in school that are either completely self-financed or don't have the level of money something like this has. We're talking in the hundreds of millions of dollars, so it was interesting seeing the inner workings of how this sort of system runs."
Kendrick is based in Los Angeles now, but is living in his family's cabin in Woodland Park, Colo., spending the summer writing and working on a few projects in anticipation of graduating from USC next semester.
During his senior year of high school, Kendrick moved to New York to begin working as a fashion model.
"My parents got me out of basketball practice and said, 'Trent, you're moving to Stuttgart, Germany, because you're opening for the Hugo Boss show,'" he said. "It was a grand escape. I hit the ground running and really had an amazing few years doing that."
Kendrick took a few online courses and worked with his high school English teacher to get the credits necessary to graduate with his Stanton County class.
"The entire community, my teachers, the school board and especially my parents, were very supportive. They really worked with me and understood what I was doing and the opportunities I was facing," Kendrick said.
Kendrick was still modeling when he enrolled at USC. He would alternate taking semesters off to work. Originally, Kendrick majored in pre-med, intending to become a reconstructive plastic surgeon, but eventually realized he wanted to do something more creative.
"I wanted to tell stories," he said.
Film making seemed to fit what he was looking for so Kendrick switched to a film production major and hasn't looked back.
"At 18, who really knows what they want to do?" Kendrick said. "I think living life in the real world and doing some self-examining I realized that's not what I wanted to devote my life to. I didn't want to wake up at 40 and say, 'What am I doing?'"
"White House Down" is the first feature film Kendrick has worked on, and he hopes it won't be his last. Kendrick's advice for others, especially those struggling to settle on a future career, is to relax.
"Don't be scared if you don't know what you want to do. That's totally normal, so don't be scared that you don't know right now," he said. Through life, you'll find it. I think if you want to be happy and you want to be satisfied, just stay true to yourself and what drives you, what makes you tick. If you can find something where you can do that, you're doing things right."