Over the last semester, OKWU’s Communications Department has been hard at work on its latest student film, When it Shatters. With a student screenwriter, student director, and student crew, the film is the product of a lot of hard work from people all over the department.
The project started with a scriptwriting class, which is offered every other fall. This class gives students the chance to learn how to write for movies, short films, skits, and plays, and it also gives them the opportunity to create a script that could be turned into a real film. A second class, Digital Film Production, offered every other spring semester, will often choose one of these student scripts and create it. Such was the case this year, as Senior English and Writing and Editing major Brianna Hudson wrote the selected script.
For her part, Hudson was happy to have her script even considered. “I was really excited. I didn’t feel like it was real!” she said.
Her script was chosen after a class vote. Set in the 1920s, the story follows the main character, Sonny, faced with financial ruin and the consequences of poor choices. With beautiful local settings and a wonderful cast and crew, this film came to life through the creative minds of students all throughout the department.
After choosing When it Shatters, the students hosted auditions with Stagecraft, the theatre class. The auditions were open to everyone on campus who wanted to be involved. Once the class had the parts and story figured out, it was time to dive into the film process.
A redemptive Process
Throughout the project, students had the chance to learn all of the different roles of a film crew. Some students participating had years of experience, while others had never been on set before. To even things out, the class put on an intensive boot camp early on, to bring new students up to speed and to refresh the memories of those who were more experienced.
Evan Hewitt, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts, produced the film. He called the process for When it Shatters redemptive, because the last film production class was cut short due to the global pandemic. Even with that caveat, though, this film’s gestation was unique. Because of the different levels of knowledge within the class, it came down to students collaborating more to create a “film-making team.” And because the script was written by a student, the film was directed by a student, and students edited the film, the entire process was spearheaded by those in the class.
“It’s the most student-produced film we’ve had,” Hewitt said.
Principal photography took place over a series of seven days and nights as students worked to turn the storyboards into completed shots. Sophomore Sean Rollins took on the pivotal role of director. After pitching his vision for the film’s direction, Rollins was able to take his perception and apply it to the real world. The process was full and hectic for him. “It’s a lot of work, and a lot of repetition,” he said. “A lot of thinking and decision making.”
But after seeing the footage come together, Rollins knows the work was very much worth it. “Nothing is better than having an idea of things you want to do on screen, and then it plays out the way you imagined it,” he said.
When it Shatters will premiere during the Student Film and Design Showcase on April 29 at 6:30 PM in the Lyon Chapel and Fine Arts Center. There will be additional student films and skit performances as well, along with the presentations of senior projects. Mark your calendars to support our students!