Welcome to Berridge Programs

Berridge Programs

About

Berridge offers gap year and summer high school arts programs in Normandy, France based in an 18th century French chateau. Since 2008, we have empowered young artists from around the world with an expanded sense of self and confidence in their unique artistic voice. We offer small, student-centered programs with individual mentorship from a caring faculty of professional artists across all artistic disciplines including Film, Theatre, Studio Art, Music, Writing and Design. Our programs combine college-level curriculum with a study abroad experience with a view to widening our student's perspective on the world and opening out possibilities around their artistic practice. Whether preparing for college, pursuing a career in the industry, or just wanting to build new creative skills, Berridge offers a community of supportive teachers and peers in one of Europe’s most stunning regions.

Founded
2008

Reviews

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Honora
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Berridge Summer Theatre and Film Program

My summer at Berridge could not have been a more enriching, enlightening, and enthralling experience! Three weeks in a chateau in Normandy, France surrounded by like-minded creatives and artist mentors sounded like a dream, and it was indeed. Despite having done theatre my entire life, I learned a staggering amount of new skills and got insights into the acting business that enhanced my overall understanding of the art and my own performances. Collaboration was a focal objective of the program, and it quickly delivered in the many introduction exercises we did to initiate the program. The trust and excitement between both returning and new Berridge participants made bonding easy, and because of that, the work we were able to present was powerful and uplifted. I learned the importance of feeling empowered as an artist. At Berridge, we could really hone in on our artistry without the cut-throat/ inherent competitive nature of the industry. Of any program I have done this one felt truly like a group effort in which everyone just wanted everyone to do their very best. People were able to bring what they uniquely had to the table and were celebrated for it. It is unusual to be in an environment so supportive. It really enabled everyone to improve and enjoy their work without the pressure to “be the best”. We were given a variety of tools to work with in the classes we took, and it’s nice because there is not one specific approach to it. You are able to take what works for you and implement it into your own process. Again, having this autonomy over your own work and being able to embrace your singularity is vital in a creative environment. In terms of achieving the quintessential summer intensive goals, Berridge hit all the marks. First and foremost, we were procuring new skills for our own acting purposes, and I'd have been satisfied with just this because it is specifically an acting intensive. However, in addition to that we were exploring Normandy, making new friends, making new connections, eating good food, getting a dorm-life experience, managing our time, and so much more. I wasn’t sure what to expect entering the program in late June, and when reflecting on my 3 weeks there I can see that it exceeded anything I could have dreamed. I cannot recommend the program highly enough. Andrea is able to draw in such wonderful groups of people and create a safe and exciting place to be.

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Jack
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Berridge Programs is everything an artist could ask for

I've attended two summers in a row now and both times I've texted my family back home saying, "I have never felt more creatively fulfilled than I do right now." The faculty succeeds at creating a supportive, non-judgmental environment where the students can share and hone their specific talents as well as learn how to work in groups towards a specific goal- whether it be a short film or a play. The weekly talent shows were often the highlight of the week. Performances included anything from monologues to stand-up to poetry to music.

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kai
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Berridge Film Program

I went to Berridge's film program in the summer of 2019 and it was the best summer of my life! Now, I go to the film program at NYU and the experience I had at Berridge was invaluable not only to my development as a filmmaker but as a person. Going away to a foreign country on my own with 40 new people was not the easiest for me, but I feel like I found myself at Berridge. My experience gave me a better perspective on my life as it did with filmmaking–helping me develop the skills and ideas that allowed me to become a better artist. If they had a gap year program, I would have definitely done it because at that period in one's life the experience at Berridge is irreplaceable.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Showing my film at the end of the program was pretty nerve-racking. But once I submitted it, the only thing to get over was own anxiety. I was sacred for everyone to see my film, but showing my work in front of the whole program and hearing their responses was one of the most liberating things I've ever felt.
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Alex
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

A Life Changing and Unforgettable Experience

I went to this program when I was 16 and it was the first time that I had really done anything on my own, away from my family and everything else in my life. I was also only just beginning to get interested in the art of filmmaking.
Before coming to Berridge I had a very narrow view of the world as I had never had a strong influence in my life that pushed me towards creativity and I had no concept of what the pursuit of art really looked like. I remember being very overwhelmed when I first arrived at the chateau, however, everyone there welcomes you like you are immediately a part of this huge artistic family. By the end of the program I felt that my entire view of the world had completely changed. You are surrounded by such an authentic part of the french countryside and by artists from all around the world, and you are taught to express yourself and to be emotional with everyone there. It opens you up to this extremely profound world that was (for me at least) something that I never imagined could exist. Berridge sparked a beautiful chain of events in my life.
I am now 20 years old, and I am studying filmmaking and pursuing my art in the image of the talented and amazing people that I meant at Berridge. I still look up to every one of them.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
When they screened our films at the end of camp it was the first time I shared any of my work with people so it was very nerve-racking. Everyone is always so supportive there and is genuinely happy and proud of you for whatever you create.
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Katie
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Berridge Film Program- An Amazing Way to Learn

I was a film student at Berridge programs for two summers. I only wish they had this longer program when I was 20! I learned so much and it has made me the working filmmaker I am today. I met amazing people, staff and students, and I now have a network of collaborative, amazing people that I can call upon to help me produce, act, write, and film scripts. I received incredible support from staff who really supported me in finding my authentic creative voice. This is a great program for the creative and also the technical side of filmmaking! Something that is incredibly unique about this program is that you walk away with your own work and an understanding of yourself as an artist.

The setting is amazing, and you couldn't ask for a better place to film. It's perfect for telling any kind of story. The chateau is full of history and can appear ancient or modern. The scenery is beautiful and any film you make will be impressive and unique.

The food is also amazing! They have a private chef who makes different meals every day and the food is fresh and local. The trips are also amazing!! You see things that you would never be able to see if you went to France by yourself.

I can't recommend this life changing program enough.

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
A very French thing is to eat mussels with fries! That was an incredible experience to eat them practically right out of the ocean by the beach.

There is also a local bakery nearby where I had creme brulee eclairs.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Duane Daniels

Job Title
Acting Teacher
Duane Daniels has had a professional acting career on stage, TV, and film for over 30 years. He was a series regular on Veronica Mars. Duane has won the Drama-Louge Award, ACT Award, Patte Award, and the Blitz Award. He logged over 3000 performances of Triple Espresso in venues from San Diego to Dublin.

What is your favorite travel memory?

The first time I ever traveled to France was to teach for Berridge. I had done a bit of traveling but hadn’t seen this part of Europe. And then I arrived at the
Chateau le Mont Epinguet! It was a welcoming, vibrant, creative
environment, with amazing food, and a job I could believe in! I only knew a few
staff members before arriving but had made life-long friends by the time I
finished my first year.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

For me, personally, it has given me faith in the future. I came into Berridge after 3 years on a TV show and 10 years and 3000 performances of a stage show so I was tired and maybe a bit jaded. Berridge gave me the opportunity to connect with the future generation of artists and thinkers. These young people were every bit as brave, driven, and aggressively compassionate as I had been when I was starting out as a hungry young artist. It gave me faith that the creative work we do is vitally important and the next generation will carry on changing the world, making it a better place. And do it better than my generation ever did! I am so grateful to have learned that lesson.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I’ve been teaching at Berridge for twelve years and each year 1/3 our student body returns. So there are a lot of memories of these young performers and creatives. There is one student who attended twice that comes to mind. In her first year, she seemed lost. She was extremely talented but seemed unsure about herself and unfocused. . She returned for a second summer and was completely transformed. She was humble, disciplined, and driven, and showed an amazing work ethic. Her performances had become riveting, fully professional. On the final night, she told me that she had been thinking about the lessons she had learned the first year and that the experience had marinated since she left. She told me she was so grateful and wanted to come back and do it right.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would love to go on Creative Semester. A whole 10 weeks in France creating, studying, collaborating, getting work experience and eating French food? Sign me up! There was really nothing like this when I was young. I would have jumped at the opportunity to combine travel with meeting creative people from all over the world and it would have really helped my confidence and career.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Our company has a wonderful “can-do” attitude. We support the students in
such a variety of ways; through filmmaking, theatre, dance, Shakespeare,
Improv… the list goes on. One of the moments of which I was most proud:
A student wanted to attend our program but wasn’t interested in acting. She
wanted to be a costumer. So, our Director, Andrea - who has professional
experience with costuming - created a costume shop! She dedicated a
large room on the campus and brought sewing machines, mannequins,
fabric, accessories; everything one would need for a costuming major. The
student created costumes inspired by “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and
the whole program attended her Fashion/Design showing at the end of the
program. It was an amazing example of the individual care and attention
offered to every student.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Trust. Most of the staff at Berridge have been working as a team for over a
decade. The fact that there is virtually no turnover in staffing is a testament to
two things: Andrea’s innate ability to hire the right people, and the
satisfying, fulfilling job we are lucky enough to do in this energetic, magical
place. Another plus is the ratio of students to staff is about four to one. No
student gets lost in the shadows, every student has opportunities to shine.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Katie Royer

Job Title
Associate Director
Katie is an actor, writer, and film producer in Los Angeles, CA. She came to Berridge Programs as a student in 2008 and returned every summer until she was hired! She is now Associate Director of Admissions, working hard to give students the amazing experience she had on Berridge.
Katie R.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I remember the first time I ate an eclair in France. It had chocolate pudding inside and I remember thinking, "this is the best thing I have ever eaten!" I thought it was particular to that bakery- but turns out all eclairs in France are made with chocolate pudding! That's the first time I really got what's so special about French food, the care with which it is made, the quality of the ingredients, and the pride they take in preparing it.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I started at Berridge as a student and anyone who saw me as a sixteen-year-old, and now, always tells me that I have changed! Berridge offered me a connection to my art and myself that has influenced all aspects of my life- from my writing, producing, filmmaking, right back around to my work with Berridge. I definitely would not be who I am today without Berridge.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

It's hard to pick one, but one I have heard quite a lot is "it was the first place I felt like I could be myself". I feel that way about Berridge too so that means a lot to me to hear someone else say that and know that I'm a part of making that happen for someone else. I also hear a lot of stories around students feeling that Berridge transformed their confidence and how they feel about themselves. That means so much to me.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I would love to go on the film program in Ireland! The filmmakers/staff involved are so talented, and I would love to be able to explore that medium in Cork. It's such a special, unique city and some fantastic film is coming out of Ireland at the moment. It would be such an amazing experience to make films there with Brian Dwyer, our film teacher.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We really do care about the student's experience as an individual. I think that's something that really sets us apart. We want each student to have the experience they want to have, and we are always curious about finding out who each person is as an artist. I am proud of our team every time the students perform. Especially after the writing workshop showcases, where I can see how the teachers unlocked the inner worlds of each student, helped them find their unique voice, and now they're up there on the stage making me laugh and cry.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Authenticity, and heart. We really believe in what we do. None of us need to be there, we could all keep on with our professional lives, but we do it, not only because we love it, but because we deeply believe that providing this sort of space for young artists is important. I also think one of our strengths is being so approachable when we are at programs. The faculty and staff live amongst the students and we become like a family during our time there. The faculty are always there to coach, rehearse or work on projects with students, they don't drift away into some staff zone where you don't see them until the next day!

Professional Associations

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