- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) - When Drew Hittie and his wife, Lauren, are watching a movie, they look forward to a peculiar part: the credits.

The long roll of names at the end of a film that most people ignore holds special value for the couple because Drew Hittie’s name is sometimes included.

The Somerset resident is a set designer who works on movies and television shows. He has worked with Anne Hathaway, Tom Cruise and other stars.

He describes it as an exciting career that was completely unexpected.

“I really had no idea that this field existed,” the 28-year-old Somerset school district graduate said.

His job is to take general concepts about set designs -including whether they need to blow up - and complete a blueprint that set builders turn into the world of Jack Reacher and other characters. The Reacher film had a lot of special effects. Hittie said he had to design some parts of the set so it splintered when it exploded.

“They may have a sketch or a computer model and say, ‘Take this and refine it,’” Hittie said. “It’s such a fast turnaround to see how quickly they can build it. To see different departments working together is pretty amazing.”

The work can take Hittie away from home for weeks at a time, but he and his wife have adapted to the lifestyle. Hittie has worked in New Orleans, Chicago and Cleveland. Most of his work is in Pittsburgh. The Steel City is a popular filming location. He gets his work through a regional studio mechanics union and through the connections he has made in the industry.

“There has always been a well-established crew in Pittsburgh,” he said. “We have been known to have a great crew.”

He has always had an interest in construction. The interest led him to Virginia Tech to study architecture. Hittie planned to turn the degree into a career building bridges, buildings and other structures. But family friend Buster Pile led Hittie down a different path in 2009.

Pile, a Friedens resident, helped him become part of the union. Now Hittie’s work is architecture, just not in the sense that he thought he would be applying his trade.

“The thing about the film industry is you can go as far as you want,” said Pile, who praised Hittie’s progress so far. “All I did was get him pointed in the right direction. He is becoming well-known and well-liked.”

Pile, who has been in the industry for close to 30 years, said he remembers when set blueprints were drawn by hand. Now designers like Hittie use computers to build much more realistic images.

“Drew is good at (computer) programs. It looks like you are on set. You look at the screen and you can walk through the set.”

Hittie’s first project was “Love & Other Drugs,” starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. He has worked on about 10 movies and a few television shows. Tom Cruise is one of the nicest actors he has met. Hittie worked with Cruise on the “Jack Reacher” film.

“He (Cruise) made a point to introduce himself to everybody.” he said.

As part of the work, Hittie is in the loop on upcoming movies. He gets behind-the-scenes access that few enjoy.

He and his wife also make sure they stay to the very end of each movie they watch.

“We have to stay and watch the credits,” Lauren Hittie said with a laugh

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Online:

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Information from: Daily American, http://www.dailyamerican.com

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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