Alumni Help Bring The PhD Movie to Life

by Amy Marcott on November 10, 2011 · 0 comments

in Alumni Life, Arts, Modern Geekhood

Poster for the PhD Movie.

Evans T. Boney ’06 (shown bottom right) played the role of Mike Slackenerny.

Fans of the comic strip PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper) are likely well aware that creator Jorge Cham wrote a movie based on his accounts of life in grad school. But did you know some MIT alumni were instrumental in the making of the film?

Margaret “Meg” A. Rosenburg ’07, who graduated from MIT with degrees in physics and Earth, atmospheric, and planetary sciences, was a producer, and Evans T. Boney ’06, who earned degrees in physics and chemistry at MIT, played the role of Mike Slackenerny.

Cham and members of the cast and crew have been visiting college campuses this fall for screenings. Recently, they visited MIT and sat down with The Tech.

Watch the Q&A below or read the transcript.

A few notable tidbits of information:

Moviemaking was not on the resume of most of the crew. “I had a lot of experience as a stage manager and producer of theater shows, and I thought that that could translate to film,” says Rosenburg. “I was sort of not entirely right about that, so I learned a lot of things the hard way.” Rosenburg was in the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble and Dramashop at MIT and is involved in theater and performance groups at Caltech, where she’s a grad student, but she had to consult Wikipedia to learn how to be a producer.

“I was like, what does a producer do? Well, I found out there are all different types of producers. I was trying to figure out which type I was, and it turns out I was a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and then other people were covering other aspects of jobs. It was kind of nontraditional.” —Meg Rosenburg

Likewise, Boney had never acted before and had to learn his role:

“I wasn’t really prepared for the professional way they were doing things. So the call sheet was very complicated….I never really got any training in reading call sheets so there were a couple of times where I showed up for a particular day with the wrong half of a scene memorized because I thought it meant X instead of pages or something stupid like that.” —Evans Boney

Watch the trailer for the movie. And if you haven’t yet seen it, you can look forward to a mention of MIT. Says Cham, “There’s a rumor that the movie has a quip about MIT, to which I can only say too bad, we filmed it at Caltech. It’s all in good fun.”

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