The next generation of “cult” classics

By Celeste Powell

This spring, Corporate Video was offered to Journalism and Media Production students taught by Matt Jenkins.

Jenkins is a producer, director and writer with 14 film awards and eight nominations. One of his most recent movies, Texoma, has won six awards at film festivals.

Corporate Video focused on the steps to write, produce and direct an independent short film.

The most major assignment of the class was the video production—filming their own movie.

Preparation began with the “treatment” of their short film.

A professional movie treatment is to include a synopsis, production requirements and a production schedule.

After completing this, each student presented their pitch in front of the class, ending with asking their classmates to invest time or money if they believed in the production. 

Jenkins said he believes it’s important for students to write, produce, direct and edit a short film.

“This is most likely the first time the students will create an entire production focusing the producer’s role—gathering all the elements for production and directing—and translation of the script to the screen.”

Senior Journalism and Media Production major Drue Watkins has seen this project as his senior farewell.

Watkins’s short film—“Cult Night” follows “two scrappy mob enforcers—Bruce and Ray—as they are hired by their boss to shake down a young, college-aged woman who hasn’t been paying up after she received a momentous loan… However, things go bad. After kicking down the door, our two protagonists stumble onto a vivid, disturbing and grotesque cult worshipping ground.”

Watkins said he has always considered himself a film lover and led him to Corporate Video and the production of “Cult Night.”

“The reason I love film is because it really captures imagination in a visceral manner,” he said. “There’s no other experience quite like watching a movie in a theatre with lots of people. I appreciate the visual beauty and construction of a film. It’s a visual and auditory feast.

“Film gave me an outlet to create something that’s personal to myself and to share it with others. Also, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.”

Drawing inspiration from the 1980s era of horror-comedy, Watkins hoped to utilize the cheesy over-the-top aspects of campy films like “The Evil Dead.”

“Horror comedy isn’t scary per say,” he said, “You take the horror elements and make them funny.”

Watkins hopes for his movie to be seen and positively accepted by many people, regardless of who they are.

“I would like for my audience to be thoroughly entertained,” he said. “I want them to laugh and have a good time with their friends and family. My movie is definitely not a family-friendly film, but it’s based around giving people a genuinely good time.

“For me, films are all about the entertainment factor—the factor that gets you talking about it afterward. If it doesn’t do that to the audience, then it wasn’t a good movie.”

Jenkins hopes after students take this class they will have the ability to make reasoned decisions as a professional and believe film production is a worthy and rewarding endeavor.

All students short films will be shown in the Vaska theatre.

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