Matthew Curtis ’18 reflects on his experience as a self-designed film studies major, the growth of Centre’s film community and his time spent on the set of “Rust Creek,” an independent film shot partially on campus.
Centre College is known for many things—its idyllic campus, nationally-ranked study abroad program, etc.—but not necessarily for its film-related endeavors, something that could soon change thanks to growing interest among both faculty and students and an increase in movie-related activities on campus.
Film at Centre has come a long way since my first year, when I decided to design my own film studies major by supplementing and expanding upon the college’s existing minor. This approach, though it may be somewhat unusual, has provided me with certain opportunities that a traditional film school experience likely would not have—including, among other things, participation in a summer program in conjunction with USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles that saw me participate in the making of a series of short films at Walt Disney Studios and the ability to write and direct a fully financed feature film as part of my senior seminar.
It has also provided me with a chance, only afforded to a select few undergraduate film students, to get hands-on experience as a production intern on the set of a legitimate feature film.
I first met the crew of “Rust Creek,” the aforementioned film, when I assisted them on a location scout, helping them determine the areas on campus that best met their needs. By the time they brought production to campus two-and-a-half weeks later, word had quickly spread about their impending arrival and the opportunities that might be available for those interesting in participating in the shoot.
Working under the film’s producer Stu Pollard and director Jen McGowan, who were gracious enough to answer any-and-all questions I had, my time spent on set served as a 48-hour crash course in independent filmmaking. Over the course of two days, production moved across various locations, including Weisiger Theater, the Grace Doherty Library and Old Quad to capture footage that will be featured in the opening scenes of the final film, that focuses on an ambitious Centre senior named Sawyer Scott.
One of the most exciting things about the crews’s presence on campus was the spotlight it shone on those interested in film at Centre, as dozens of students and faculty members took on roles in the production ranging from background actors to location representatives, in addition to the dozens more who watched the “movie magic” from the sidelines. In my eyes, it seemed to be a new peak for a burgeoning film community that began before my arrival here and will surely only become larger and more active in the future.
Over the past three years, I’ve seen a noteworthy growth of interest in cinema on campus. The number of film-related classes has gone up, with the potential for there to be even more. The film studies minor is becoming increasingly popular and some students have even approached me about pursuing their own self-designed majors in the field. Centre alumni, in ever increasing numbers, are going on to pursue graduate studies in film and/or careers in the film/television industry.
With all of this in mind, I feel safe saying that there has never been a better time to be a film student at Centre.
Matthew Curtis ’18
May 19, 2017