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Behind the narrative

Film majors create short films for class

The team works on a scene in “NuWorld.”

The team works on a scene in “NuWorld.”

By Laura Koenig | Echo

Film and media production majors combined their skills to produce original narrative films with topics ranging from Elvis impersonators to virtual reality.

Four groups of juniors and seniors experienced the entire filmmaking process starting with scriptwriting and ending with a screening on May 14.

The Echo talked with members of each group to hear about the process of creating the films.

“Rest of Your Life”

Senior Aj Ablog—Cinematographer

Junior Shirley Irwin—Producer

Senior Hanson Reed—Director

Senior David Stallard—Editor

This narrative film tells the story of a documentary filmmaker who struggles with his own mortality while reconciling with his best friend’s widow.

“To me, the main theme is about the character working through his grief and struggling with reconciling the relationships in his life,” Irwin said.

As Irwin reflected on some of the challenges in producing this film, she recounted how many pieces—the schedule, locations, props and actors—had to fit together to make a high quality final project. She learned to take each piece step-by-step to make the process more manageable.

Advice from Irwin:

“Plan ahead. Something will almost always go wrong, whether if it’s the weather or a missing prop. You need to be prepared for whatever may be thrown your way. Have a plan A, but also a plan Z.”


Senior Tommy Weber—Director, Writer

Senior Matt Kloker—Director of Photography

Junior Luke Engel—Editor, Writer

Senior David Watanabe—Audio

Senior Abbie Brewer—Producer

Junior Josh Adams—Producer

“NuWorld” follows a young man named Perry who steps back from his relationship and enters an online virtual reality called Nuworld. Through this virtual reality, Perry learns the importance of human connection and relationships.

Kloker hopes that the audience will think about what it means to connect to other people, and how virtual reality and digital technology, such as Nuworld, could affect human connections in the future.

Reflecting on his role as the writer and director, Weber said, “I think a big challenge for me has been learning how to properly communicate what is in my head to others so that we can achieve what I had envisioned.”


Advice from Kloker:

“Always be learning about your craft, whether it is through resources online or experimenting with different techniques and ideas. Networking is essential too. Be diligent, willing to help and friendly to people, and most people in the film industry will be more likely to want you on their team. It’s all about relationships.”

“The End”

Senior Ashley Young—Director

Senor Lydia Burchett—Producer

Senior Gerardo Lara—Writer, Cinematographer

Senior Joel Burrell—Editor

This narrative focuses on a screenwriter named Chance. He is stuck in a dead-end job, writing pieces he does not enjoy and struggling to make decisions for himself. Throughout the narrative, he learns to live his own life.

Young hopes that watching Chance will encourage people to move forward in their lives regardless of their past.

This team was surprised when their planned film location pulled out a few days before the scheduled filming. While rushing to find another location, the support Young received from other narrative groups helped her realize how special the Taylor film program is.

“One thing that I think is really cool about Taylor’s film department is that everyone helps each other on their narratives,” Young said.

The other groups helped Young’s team find a new location in time for the scheduled filming.

Advice from Young:

“Keep going. It’s a lot of fun. Don’t be scared; no one knows what they’re doing. Be willing to learn. When you get super busy, just take it one day at a time. Everything gets done. Be flexible.”


“The Kings”

Senior Ryan Avery—Producer

Senior Jordan Avery—Editor

Senior Max Romanowski—Director

Senior Nathan Tomcik—Director of Photography

Junior Austin Yoder—Writer

“The Kings” begins when three Elvis impersonators get fired from their jobs at a small, rundown theatre. One of the impersonators believes that the real Elvis is still alive, so the three go on a trip to find him.

Throughout their journey, the impersonators and audience will learn about the value of friendship, especially during tough times.

“We hope they (the audience) walk away with a sense of hope and that the passions in our characters’ lives and the audience’s lives are worth pursuing,” Ryan Avery said.

The team struggled with finding an actor to play the oldest Elvis impersonator. They also had trouble finding someone who was willing to lend them a motor home for two days for filming. Fortunately, they found people who generously gave them their time and motor home.

Yoder learned to trust the other guys on his team with his vision as a writer.

“I’ve been blessed with such an incredible group, and they’ve showed me how much can be accomplished when everyone is giving their all,” Yoder said.

Advice from Ryan Avery:

“If you have the opportunity to PA (production assistant) on a set, do it. We heard it as a freshman, but didn’t realize how important it was until we became upperclassmen.”

The film screening will be on Saturday, May 14, at 7 p.m. in the Rediger Auditorium.

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