Cinema and Digital Arts tackles three films


Evan Rogers behind the camera on the set of "Day 37", the winter film. (photo by Erika Fleck)

Camille Torrente

Most people don’t want to triple their workload, but the film department at TMU is doing just that. The department normally makes one short film each spring. But this time, they’re making three.

“It’s going to be a crazy-busy semester,” said Professor Matt Green, the head of the film department. “But we’ve got some talented students—we really do—so I’m excited.”

The department recently finished their winter film, “Day 37”. The film follows a veteran navigating a broken Veterans Affairs system after a serious medical diagnosis.

“Day 37” features two high profile actors: Kristoffer Polaha, who was cast in upcoming Wonder Woman sequel, and Nelson Lee, who will be appearing in the live-action adaptation of “Mulan”. Recent TMU graduate Emmy Gaddy produced the film, and current TMU student James Hamory was the associate producer.

“Our actors said that they had a wonderful experience working with us. That’s a good testament to the students,” Gaddy said. “The best way to learn is through experience, but being able to have professionals who are willing to teach you is an excellent thing, and this program provides that.”

Hamory is taking the lead on one of the projects this semester. He is the writer and producer of “Sleepwalker”, which follows a man with a strange condition.

“He has a bizarre case of sleepwalking where he’ll wake up miles away from where he went to bed,” Hamory said. “One of the main messages the film has is that each one of us is made the way we are for a reason, and unless we embrace that, we could be missing our purpose in life.”

The other project will have a more comedic tone. The film, titled “All for Nothing”, follows a couple as they attempt a robbery. Christian Johnson wrote the screenplay, and he will also be directing the film.

“This semester is by far the most student led, and the students will be doing the most, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it turns out,” Johnson said. “The department’s been working for years to be able to give us this level of independence and see how we can go with it, so that’s exciting.”

The department is also doing its first animated project. The film, called “Oval,” is centered around balloons in a party store.

“I’ve always wanted to do an animated short,” Green said. “We’ve never done that, and we wanted to try something different.”

Approximately 50 students will be working on these three films, which shows how much work each short takes. But for Green, it’s an exciting milestone.

“This was the dream; to be able to do all these type of things,” Green said. “When I first started here five years ago with Prof. Dickson, we had a vision, and we’re finally able to with the talent of the students who’ve gone through the program.”

The decision to tackle multiple projects has surprised many people, especially those who know how much goes into making a short film.

“Honestly, when I heard that they were attempting three this semester, my mouth dropped,” Gaddy said. “I was like, ‘How?’”

Despite the shock, Gaddy is confident in her classmates.

“Honestly, based off the class, I know they can do it,” Gaddy said. “I know it’s going to be really stressful, and they’re going to have to pull a lot of long hours, but I know they can do it.”

As they look ahead, these students understand the effort they will have to put in. But they also know their dedication will pay off.

“It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s going to be a lot of fun, and it’s going to be very rewarding to see what the final product is,” Hamory said. “This is something Prof. Green has wanted to do for a long time, and he finally has the students to do it.”

The influx of students has come with the development of the Communication department. According to Green, enrollment in the major has increased by 40% in the past five years. The ones working on these films will see a tangible result of their efforts.

“It’s a great moment for our students to be able to do these projects and be able to see them the way that they dream of, which is on a big screen in a theater with friends and family,” Green added. “That’s a special and unique opportunity.”