Eight years ago, two professors made a vision into a reality.
Department of performance studies in the Communication and Media Studies, Dr. Diane Howard said she and Director of computer graphics design in the BCIS Department, Ms. Donna Teel began the Cru Film Projects to “give our UMHB students hands-on experience in the process of producing films from script to screen,” Howard said.
Not only do the two professors want communication, film and graphic design students to succeed now, but after graduation.
“We work at simulating a real-world film production process, so that our students are prepared to work on film sets and on film productions in real-world work,” she said.
On April 18 this spring’s film, Choice Decision, written by sophomore computer graphic design major Sadie Meador, can be seen in Brindley Auditorium at 4 p.m. Other showings are April 19 at 11 a.m. and April 20 at 5 p.m.
Pre-production begins each fall , and continues into the early months of spring.
By this time, “film faculty have identified film students who would serve well in key leadership positions …. student director, first assistant to the director, student editor and assistant to the editor,” Howard said.
Senior communication major Trey Hazelton worked on set as the gaffer.
“It’s the lighting person during the filming,” he said. “For post-production, I’m the assistant editor, which is my main role.”
Hazelton has never been part of a film production but he has learned more from working hands on.
“I have to always be paying attention and ask questions, but at the same time it’s fun,” he said.
The student director is chosen by Howard and Teel. This year, senior communication major and film minor Ashley Ramirez takes the leadership role. Her job has not been a simple task.
“The biggest obstacle was learning my role as director. After doing other film projects, I was used to taking charge of the many details that go into these productions, costumes, schedules and props,” she said.
Being the director of Choice Decision, she has to concentrate on the story and actors. Ramirez was one of the directors for Stunt Night.
With this event, the cast had more freedom to create their own characters.
“They told me what they want to do and I said ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ They told me what they needed, and I took care of it for them …. I kept things organized and easy,” she said.
Casting calls were posted, a free workshop was provided and auditions were held on campus.
After finalizing the cast, Ramirez and her crew began working fervently. Not only students are involved, but professional actors and the university’s personnel will be in the film.
The film is not like Stunt Night for Ramirez because this is her vision.
“It was hard to explain this to the actors because I was expecting them to know what they wanted to do and then do it,” she said.
Out of the five core actors, only two are UMHB students.
“All five of them did a great job. Johnny Vacca was a life saver,” Ramirez said. “The actress who was originally playing the professor became ill on the first day of shooting. Johnny came in as we prepared for our first shot …. He stepped in and did every shot in nearly one take.”
Ramirez enjoyed working with the many people on the set, and is positive the screenings will be a big hit on campus and in the community.
She said, “More people know about our film this year than ever before. This excites me because I know we will see the film program grow with all the attention it’s getting.”
She is confident this is one of the program’s best films produced.
“I could not have hand picked a better team …. We worked together, and we had fun. This was the most organized film I’ve been a part of in the last four years.”