Lights. Camera. Action. That’s just what Southern Miss alumnus Jonathan Brannan heard when he joined the cast of the new Universal Studios motion picture, “Pitch Perfect.”
Brannan, a 2012 music education graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi, auditioned for and was cast in the film over a year ago. Part of a talent agency based in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, Brannan auditioned for a lot of projects, but the jobs were few and far between.
When he couldn’t make the initial audition for the film, his agent submitted some of his YouTube videos. His golden tones and handsome face caught the attention of director Jason Moore, of Broadway’s “Avenue Q” and “Shrek, the Musical,” and the casting director who requested a callback to the Baton Rouge location.
“After I sang they made small talk and sent me on my way; one of those, ‘don't call us, we'll call you’ type scenarios,” said Brannan. “Then he got the nod for a second callback singing and dancing. “This audition let me show my sight-reading capabilities, and surprisingly to myself, I was able to pick up the dance moves without too much difficulty.”
Brannan credits Southern Miss music faculty for his excellent preparation. While in college, he performed in the Southern Chorale, Spirit of Southern, and studied voice with Dr. Larry Smith. Because of Dr. Smith’s persistence of using tuning forks to learn how to sight-read, he was able to learn his parts before he got to rehearsal, and was even able to teach other cast members their parts.
“Although I was basically a glorified extra, the rehearsals were a lot of fun,” Brannan notes. “My part was in the perfect spot to allow me to rehearse with the stars of the movie for about a week, and film with them for another.”
While there, he worked with well-known arranger Deke Sharon, who also produced "The Sing-Off,” as well as the choreographer AJ, who is works with Usher and Justin Bieber to name a few.
“Southern Miss has a lot of hidden talent, and I think there are a lot of students that should get involved with this kind of stuff,” he said. “The South is really booming in the entertainment industry right now because of how cheap it is to make movies and other projects around here.”
Brannan is currently the choir and showchoir director at New Hope High School and Middle School in Columbus, Miss. “Pitch Perfect” opens in theaters Friday, Oct. 5. It is rated PG-13.