A group of workers shooting “The Grand Strand,” last year’s Get on Set project. Get on Set is an initiative to support young filmmakers and teach them about working on an S.C. film set.  (Photos courtesy by Local Cinema Studios/Carolina News and Reporter)

Something Piper Collins always knew she wanted to do is write a movie script and star in it. 

This summer, she will be doing both. 

Her film, “Goody,” is about a young woman navigating her severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and draws from her own experience with her mental health. 

“I wanted to tell about my experience with OCD,” Collins said. “And as I was writing it, I realized that it was my dream role. And then I couldn’t see anyone else playing this character.”

“Goody” will begin production in May as a part of the Get on Set initiative, a partnership between the Columbia-based Local Cinema Studios and the South Carolina Film Commission that works with professionals but also gives  college students an insight into working in filmmaking and television.

Dustin Whitehead, an assistant professor of film and media performance at the University of South Carolina, founded Local Cinema Studios several years ago.

He said the collaborators choose “Goody” as this year’s film in part because they think it is exciting to have Collins involved in the development phase of production.

“We had 50+ submissions, and this one was the most exciting to our team of readers,” Whitehead said.  “One of the reasons we selected it is because it’s an exciting, unique story that we don’t feel is often told.”

Collins said she hopes people who have OCD or mental health issues will feel seen in the film. The protagonist, Goody, is a piece of herself that she has come to terms with as she has gotten older.

“I want people from any walk of life to see Goody and understand her and also kind of see her within themselves,” Collins said. 

The Local Cinemas team evaluates submitted scripts based on their quality, their ability to adhere to the budget and to educate an audience.

The team began casting calls and crew selection in February. Those will continue until filming begins in May. After a one-week orientation, the film will wrap up in about six weeks.

Students who participate “will have a new understanding of what it takes to make a movie, and they walk away knowing whether or not they want to spend their career – or at least part of their career – doing that,” Whitehead said.

The S.C. Film Commission provides a grant for Get on Set every year. S.C. Film Commission Director Matthew Storm said the budget for last year’s project, “The Grand Strand,” was $150,000. “Goody’s” is $200,000.

The team’s first film, “Hero,” will play at Columbia’s Nickelodeon Theatre, April 4-18. And “The Grand Strand” should debut by this fall in at least one film festival, Whitehead said.

Storm said the purpose of the grant is to grow a sustainable film community and infrastructure that’s indigenous to South Carolina.

“When I was looking for a film school to go to, I had to go to North Carolina School of the Arts, because there wasn’t one in South Carolina,” Storm said. “And I felt like it was kind of a no man’s land.”

Dan Rogers, the project manager at the S.C. Film Commission, said that’s the reason why the Film Commission supports local filmmakers and fosters opportunities. 

“The forward thinking component of it, which we’re seeing now come to fruition, is … again feeding that pipeline, getting experience to people that might not normally get it,” Rogers said.

Hollyann Clevenger, a junior media arts student at USC, was a production office assistant last year with Get on Set, doing all the “nitty-gritty stuff that went on behind the scenes.” For her, the experience was educational.

“Because the set is a learning set, it’s meant for students and recent graduates to collaborate with these professionals,” Clevenger said. 

Clevenger said being on set can be stressful because of the fast-paced work environment, but the Get on Set team is nothing but supportive. 

“When you’re in a position to where you’re coming into the industry, you can’t say no,” she said. “And I’m glad that Local Cinema Studios gives you the opportunity to say, ‘I’m extremely stressed. I need help. I can’t do this right now.’” 

Clevenger said shooting begins with an orientation week, to help each student learn about their specific job, professional skills and ways to manage stress. 

“The Local Cinema Studios and Get on Set Initiative kind of eases you into the film world and basically says, ‘Here’s a taste of what it is,” she said. 

Storm said he hopes the program receives more interest, as he wants more people to be involved in the film industry on a long-term basis. 

“If we were only existing to have cool movies and not to have people from South Carolina specifically, with a bent to get these people to work, then what’s the point?” Storm said. “If we don’t teach people about what it’s like and how to work or how to get on a film set, they don’t have a chance at even figuring it out.”

A worker watches footage on a monitor on the set of “The Grand Strand” last summer. 

A behind-the-scenes look at the shooting of “The Grand Strand.”