Picture a summer detention class filled with high school students in trouble for numerous reasons. The teacher decides the punishment will be giving each a video camera to record his or her life.
While doing his assignment, one student catches a glimpse of his stepfather’s life, a family secret he never wanted revealed. Trouble arises, with his stepfather willing to do the unthinkable to protect this secret.
This full-length film will come to life this summer. Creighton, for the first time, will be offering English 470-From Script to Screen, letting students get a first-hand experience of the work it takes to create a film.
Written by English professor Brent Spencer and his wife, Jonis Agee, this film, a “coming-of-age drama with a thriller element added,” mixes elements of two classics, “The Breakfast Club” and “The Outsiders.”
This three week summer course, offered June 9-27, will give students the chance to learn more than they could in two years of film school, Spencer said, coordinator of the film studies minor. Students will be directors, writers, actors, crowd control and production crew, to name a few.
Jan Schnack, University College senior, had to reschedule her work times, which she said is something that she normally wouldn’t do. She decided to take English 470 because it has always been a goal to get involved in acting and film. Schnack has been dreaming of a class like this since seeing her 14-year-old daughter in a local play.
“I’m going to like getting to try it all. I wish I would have pursued it. I always thought ‘I think I would have liked that,’” Schnack said.
Students will not be graded on the usual course format, but based on artistic creation, energy, creativity, getting the job done and imagination. In this class, there are no tests and no papers.
Students are required to be in class three hours every day, but producing this film will take more than 8-12 hours a day, Spencer said. Because of the many hours, students can pick out what hours they prefer to work.
Even though the script will not be started from scratch, students will still be able to include their own input and ideas. Since this film includes several young people’s voices, the voices of students are needed.
About seven years ago, Spencer came up with the idea for this course, but costs prevented it from becoming available to students. Now that film production is less expensive, this course is a reality.
Alan Klem, associate professor of theater, who will be playing a teacher in this film, said the hardest part of film is having to do one scene at least three times.
“It is difficult keeping the intensity when you have to do things over and over. You want to keep it looking fresh and spontaneous,” Klem said.
Spencer’s favorite part of making a film is catching what is called an “accident” on film.
“When you get a little moment on film that is great acting, and we caught some piece of humanity, a little corner, it takes your breath away,” he said. “It grabs some piece of the world, a piece of human nature. You know it when it happens.”
Auditions for roles in the film will be taking place this month on-campus and off-campus for both students and the Omaha community. After the film has been completed, Spencer plans on entering it into film festivals all over the world, in the hopes of it being bought by a film distributor.
Filming will take place on campus and in Omaha. The city has already been the site of several independent films, and several more to come.
“It’s a real place. That’s as real as it gets,” Spencer said.
It’s still undecided whether this course will be offered every summer or if it will become part of fall or spring courses. The success of this summer class will help decide whether this course will be continued in future years.