Thursday, January 27, 2011
When Jason Knowles came aboard the William Woods University staff last fall, his goal was to revamp the film production school at the university.
“We do want to make this one of the top-notch programs in the nation,” Knowles said.
Knowles, professor of filmmaking and broadcasting, helped three WWU students do something that hadn’t been done at the school for a few years — make a movie.
Chris Norton, Aaron Griffin and Lincoln Purvis, all communications majors, completed production of their short film, “Young and Reckless,” early this month. The 37-minute movie is a love triangle about a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who comes between a boyfriend and girlfriend.
Knowles calls the film a mix between a romantic drama and an action feature.
“Two men are competing with each other and trying to woo the woman that they both love,” Norton explains.
The film stars six students from WWU’s theater department. The students will have a free and open public showing of “Young and Reckless” at 8 p.m. Friday in Cutlip Auditorium at WWU. Knowles cautions that some of the content is for a mature audience.
The communications instructor said research has shown how blending filmmaking history and theory with film production and practice makes for better filmmakers. That is what he wishes to do.
“There are very few film programs in the nation that do that,” Knowles said. “We’ll be on the cutting edge when we do that, once we get that developed.”
Although Norton wrote the script for “Young and Reckless,” he said the story idea was a combination of his and Griffin’s stories. How they came up with these stories is attributed to a TV episode of “South Park.”
Knowles said one of the screenwriting exercises he uses is based off the TV episode, which shows how ideas can be hashed by simply throwing random words together. After digging words from a hat, the two students modified their ideas until they came up with the plot for their film.
“The idea is character builds plot, not the other way around,” Knowles said.
Immediately following the showing of “Young and Reckless” on Friday night, Purvis will show his documentary, “The Making of Young and Reckless.” The 13-minute documentary shows how the students produced the film.
During a preview of “Young and Reckless” to WWU students and faculty in early December, the audience gave the film crew some “constructive criticism,” which the students used to tweak the film before final production, Knowles said.
Griffin said the audience’s reception was “very positive overall.”
Purvis, 19, and a freshman from Auxvasse, said he delved into filmmaking while a sophomore in high school.
“I just fell in love with it,” he said.
Purvis described a film crew like a sports team without the competition. He intends to continue on this “team” and go into directing, editing and producing movies after graduation.
Norton, 21 and a senior from St. Clair, originally had a goal of going to Hollywood to produce independent films. He said now-a-days the trip to Hollywood is no longer necessary. He hopes to produce independent films through his own production company, Atomic Robot Productions. The company has already made promotional material for some local businesses, Norton says.
“I like filmmaking because it can take anyone away from reality,” he said. “That’s what I want to do, to take people away to enjoy themselves while watching a movie.”
Also a senior, Griffin, 22, of Jefferson City, said he always wanted to be an artist but “could never draw.” So when he took a video production class in high school, Griffin found his niche. He views film as art and said he would like to find a career in editing cinematography.
“Making art is pretty much all I want to do,” Griffin said.