Students win award for intro level class project

Mikaleh Offerman, News Editor

Sepia tinted film, large mustaches and old-school silent acting make up The Piggy Bank Heist, a short, five minute film that was written, acted, directed and produced by junior marketing major Mackenzie Lumry and senior interdisciplinary major Morgan Knox during the spring 2016 semester.

Recently, the film, which was first made as a final project for an intro level tech class, made it to the final round of a multi-state competition.

“Professor Draper asked us if we wanted to submit it to competition and we said, “Sure, what do we need to do?” Knox said.

“We weren’t expecting it to win anything or go anywhere. I’m a perfectionist, but it’s an intro level class. So, that was our first big project.”

Their comedic inspiration came from outside of themselves.

“I think it stemmed from Professor Draper and his goofiness,” Knox said. “We wanted to do something that was original and outside the box.”

Some of the requirements included a length of five minutes, various editing techniques and use of the JVC cameras all learned in the Intro to Communication Class taught by Professor Stephen Draper.

“It also had to be a silent film, so no dialogue,” Lumry said.

This was the biggest guideline for them. Originally, they wanted to include written dialogue on the screen, but their professor nixed that, so the duo went all the way back to silent action films.

“We instantly thought of the classic, old, funny westerns,” Knox said. “We thought we could do a spaghetti western.”

Normally, finding horses and a ranch to use would have been difficult.

“I knew the Gosses who had a lot of horses, so we already had that connection,” Lumry said.

With the help of Cargo Ranch, Lumry and Knox were able to use some of their workers in addition to the horses. One of the best parts for Knox and Lumry were the props.

“The fact that we had two female characters playing male characters with huge fake mustaches was pretty fun,” Knox said. “And the costumes were funny.”

video-finalists-by-alena
Morgan Knox (left) and Mackenzie Lumry (right) win an award for a video project. Alena Blakely / The Bison

Lumry and Knox didn’t have to bring any of the props to the site.

“I think the only thing I brought, actually, was a toy gun,” Lumry said. “We just told the people at Cargo what we were kind of wanting and they showed up in full chaps.”

The production took a whole cast of people behind the scenes, helping with horses, plus the actors.

“We are so thankful for the people out at Cargo for helping us,” Knox said.
Despite all the help on site, Lumry and Knox are the ones who really put the film together. After writing the script, they took two JVC cameras to Cargo Ranch and spent an entire afternoon filming.

“We started at around four in the afternoon and didn’t finish until the sun was going down,” Knox said. “We had to rush to beat the sun, and then we had to compensate for the lighting changes during the editing process.”

“Writing the script and visualizing it wasn’t hard,” Knox said. “What was difficult was getting the horses to cooperate. Moving the cameras around with the horses was stressful, but it was worth it.”

Because of the horses, they were forced to change some things during filming.

“There were some scenes that didn’t end up happening because the horses didn’t want to do it,” Lumry said. “We checked out two cameras and set them up for the same shot at different angles to get the same shots instead of re-doing them to get multiple shots because it’s hard to make the horses do the same thing.”

Once they finished filming, it took about eight hours of post-production, editing the film and color correcting it with the sepia tint.

“It’s incredible that students in a introductory media course would not only be able to create such a clever well-made video, but to have it place in a multi-state media competition,” Draper said. “I’m very proud of their work.”

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