On June 13, 2022, the Honors Script to Screen class held their 10th annual film festival. In this class, students have the opportunity to direct their films, indulge their imaginations, and bring their vision to life. After a year of hard work and dedication, sophomore directors Brendan Hines and Sam Conners are ready to present their film: “The Morrigan’s Student Spirit Curse from Hell.”
In this homage to a 1950s horror/sci-fi film, three students find themselves in a monster attack at school. Together, they must put an end to this demon’s uprising before any further danger prevails.
Hines and Conners opted for a horror film because of the appeal of the genre’s versatility. Both were very keen on adding special effects, such as shooting in black and white and using green screen. Hines stressed that it was essential that the plot remain central to the film while allowing flexibility in the script for its actors to contribute their creativity and artistry.
“I think what makes my movie special is my monster, the Morrigan,” Hines said. “Because, [even though] there have been tons of monster movies and even monsters similar to mine, it’s special because I take my dog Winston, shoot green screen footage of his head, and put him on the body of one of my actors and it will be like a dog, man, human thing.
These collective aspects of the film intrigued senior Asher Biddle to audition as an actor for the film, where he eventually landed the role of Morrigan. As one of the main monster roles, Biddle felt challenged to connect with this difficult character.
“Obviously I don’t have much experience as a summoned demon from hell,” Biddle said. “So, I found a way to connect with that one through his physicality.”
Biddle leaned into this strategy, unafraid to exaggerate his body movements through his arms and legs to get into character.
The crew also encountered challenges along the way with the pressure of upcoming deadlines. Hines and Conners began writing the script in September and finished in December. Then they toured until April. They made the final revisions on June 13, the same day of the film festival.
Hines noted that there were multiple scheduling conflicts, resulting in unexpected delays that took days and sometimes weeks to make up for.
“A big problem we ran into was the cast schedules because everyone has so many different things to do, so many different things to do, and we had to adapt to that,” Hines said.
Biddle shares this opinion.
“You only have about 40 to 50 minutes during class after factoring in how long it takes to settle in,” Biddle said. “It was really difficult, especially towards the end when time starts to run out.”
Making a film seems simple and even easy at first glance as the camera rolls, the directors call for action and the performers give their lines. However, the whole process is not so simple. There is a lot of work behind the camera, as much as in front. In particular, Conners found the scrupulous attention to detail in editing surprising.
“I would say [editing] is a big part of the movie,” Conners said. “It sounds easy, but it’s not. You have to trim the clips to be exactly what you want, and some cuts may seem too quick.
Communication is essential in the process of making a film. Directors need to convey their ideas to their cast with clarity. Instill a sense of leadership but also collaborate as a team. Jim Mullane, a screenwriting specialist teacher, gave his students advice and helped them along the way.
“A good director listens and doesn’t crush someone’s idea,” Mullane said. “They left [the actors] try their idea, then take it and merge it with theirs.
Mullane goes on to describe how important it is to know when to put aside your pride and be open to suggestions from others.
“That’s the important part of directing, their idea might be better than yours, and you have to be smart enough to realize that,” Mullane said. “When I was directing, I was always trying to listen to the actors and get what they wanted to put into that performance and then put my ideas, but [they] have to prove why it should be so.