Behind-the-scenes: FDU student film features semi-professional actor

SARAH VAN CLEF AND KRISTEN ORDONEZ

Staff Writers

Kevin Bringman, a semi-professional actor from Greenville, S.C., recently appeared in an FDU senior film thesis that finished shooting on March 22. Bringman stars in the role of Gary Strobbler, a depressed, young professor in “The Perfect Girl.” The film was directed by senior Philip Merrick.

Bringman graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2005 with dual degrees in English and psychology and earned a master’s degree in social work in 2015. He has not had any formal training as an actor. 

In fact, Bringman said he moved to New York City only three months ago to pursue an acting career, even though at first it was because of “a failed, traumatizing relationship with a girl” who had cheated on him.

“I wanted to move to New York, and be really famous, and just kind of rub it in her face, as much as I possibly could,” he said.

While he couldn’t accurately say that New York has influenced his acting yet, saying it was “too soon,” he did note that choosing where to live in New York was important to his experience.

“I came to the Bronx because the Bronx has so much history…Pacino was from the Bronx, Kubrick, Romero, there’s a lot of history. It just feels really gritty here, and I like that feeling.”

In regards to living in New York, the hustle and bustle of the city was a lot to take on in a few short months.

“Living in New York as an actor is really competitive,” Bringman said. After working both on and off stage and meeting new people, Bringman commented that, surprisingly, “the [other] actors of New York are really supportive, which was not what I was expecting. Like in any art form, having a community of people who support you in a foreign city is really great, and I am really lucky.”

Though life as an actor living in New York has been “hard and competitive,” Bringman said he found a good support system through the other actors and actresses he has met. “In terms of breaking through barriers…it’s hard at first, but it gets easier the more work you get.”

Bringman said that, since he arrived in New York City, his acting career has taken off quicker than many other new performers in the industry, which he found to be very unexpected. Bringman has played roles in projects like the FX miniseries “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” and has also been featured in five NYU student films, both in supporting and lead roles.

When comparing his experiences with both types of projects, working for companies like FX is “more tightly structured,” while smaller projects like student films give him “more room to improv and experiment.”

“Structure’s fine, like I can get right into character, but it doesn’t leave me a lot of room to play,” he said.

Bringman was a last-minute addition to the FDU project, found by the director on backstage.com, an actor/actress job database that is used nationwide.

Gary is the lead role in this project that will debut, along with other student theses, on May 3 at FDU’s Film Thesis Night.

Bringman said that being on the set of “The Perfect Girl” was such a fun time and he learned so much from FDU students.

Following this project, Bringman will star in another student film at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Bringman’s roles are so diverse that he said he has to change his physical appearance for them. When asked what role he would love to play, Bringman immediately said Hannibal Lecter, adding that he really likes playing villains or dramatic roles.

Bringman was excited to be in “The Perfect Girl” project so he could learn more about his craft and see students who were trying to learn about film at the same time.

He said he was able to learn from the students, and the students could learn more about him as a person and as an actor.

For “The Perfect Girl,” “there was a lot of range [for a student film] that was really unexpected, but in a good way. I was able to experiment and ‘play’ with my character, connecting with him more,” said Bringman.

Being on the set of “The Perfect Girl,” Bringman said it felt “really great being back in the undergraduate life.”

He said he hoped to come back to FDU for more film work, once his reel become more developed and his skills become more focused.

“The Perfect Girl” and other student films will be shown at 6:30 p.m. on May 3 at AMC Theaters in East Hanover. The cost is $5 at the door or online.

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