Archive for the ‘News’ Category

And Away We Go

Posted on: May 25th, 2017 by Steve Wilkison

Watkins College of Art celebrated the work and contributions of 49 talented artists in the disciplines of art, film, fine art, graphic design, interior design, and photography at its Commencement on May 20th. President J. Kline began the ceremony by noting that a college degree is an achievement, but having created a body of work alongside it is that much more extraordinary. He asked the graduates to applaud the family members, the faculty, and the staff who had assisted them on their journey. “No graduate walks the path toward enlightenment alone,” he said.

After giving the Samuel Watkins Award for Excellence to interior design graduate Anna Caro, Kline awarded an honorary degree to Commencement speaker Bob Bernstein. Bernstein has had a highly creative and fascinating journey to his current post as CEO of Bongo Productions, which oversees such Music City hotspots as Bongo Java, Fido, Fetch, Fenwick’s, and Grins. After initially attending three universities where he was reluctant to commit to a major, Bernstein decided to combine his interests in writing and politics and received his master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. After, he moved to Nashville from Chicago in 1988 to work for the Nashville Business Journal. In 1991, a month shy of his 30th birthday, Bernstein quit journalism with the goal of opening a coffeehouse. In the 24 years since Bongo Java opened, he has grown his company into a $10-million restaurant group that owns seven cafes, two wholesale businesses, several licensed locations, as well as real estate property.

Bernstein offered numerous insights during his talk with the graduates, explaining that while the notion of “just doing it” is appealing, it took three years to convince himself to pursue his passion. He said many believe that taking such a leap immediately portends success, but that a leap is only the first step. Practice and perseverance are what ensure success. Bernstein also instructed graduates to trust their instincts, find someone who will always tell you the truth, and understand that growth emerges out of flexibility. Read Bernstein’s full commencement speech here.

After the degrees were awarded, while families and guests enjoyed a luncheon by the lake, President Kline offered another thought on the moving ritual Commencement is. “There is a profound connection between the thriving of a nation’s artists and the thriving of its collective society,” he said. “We couldn’t be prouder to have been the incubator for this graduating class, who are now poised to become the creatives driving the creative economy in Music City and beyond.”

The mission of Watkins College of Art is to challenge individuals to deepen their talent, refine their creative practice, and dedicate their lives to advancing culture through the illuminating power of art. The college boasts a high employment rate of students who work in the creative areas they studied (87 percent). Indeed, throughout its 132 years, Watkins has been a pioneer in connecting individuals to their highest potential. Begun by Samuel Watkins in 1885 with the goal of teaching the “business of life,” the college has mobilized to meet the needs of an ever-changing population, particularly those who may have struggled to gain their footholds, such as immigrants in the early 20th century, women as they joined the workforce in the 1930s and 40s, and servicemen upon their return from World War II.

This year, Watkins—which offers a 65,000-square-foot facility, state-of-the-art silo studios, and modern residence halls—initiated an ambitious effort to rebrand itself and will be unveiling over the next year more plans that seek to further its reputation as one of the finest arts conservatories in the country.

Watkins College of Art Commencement 2017

Watkins College of Art Commencement 2017

Watkins College of Art Commencement 2017

Watkins College of Art Commencement 2017

Watkins College of Art Commencement 2017

Watkins College of Art Commencement 2017

Watkins College of Art Commencement 2017

Watkins College of Art Commencement 2017

Watkins College of Art Commencement 2017

Watkins College of Art Commencement 2017

Watkins College of Art Commencement 2017

A Tradition Made New

Posted on: May 25th, 2017 by Steve Wilkison

Starting June 5, 2017, in collaboration with The Japan Foundation and Consulate-General of Japan in Nashville, the Currey Gallery at Watkins will present Yakishime-Earth Metamorphosis, a traveling exhibition that focuses on the Japanese ceramic technique known as “yakishime.” Firing unglazed wares at high temperatures, yakishime has developed in distinctive directions in Japan, with some of the earliest known wares dating to the fourth and fifth centuries. The exhibitions showcases such pieces, as well as other applications of the process, including utensils used in the sacred Japanese tea ceremony, tablewares, as well as non-utilitarian objects. Yakishime is one the most ancient and unique ceramic processes, but also an ongoing and contemporary one. Its high temperatures bind clays together and vitrify them, thereby making them waterproof. Contemporary artists have adopted yakishime, weaving together tradition and innovation in compelling ways. A sensibility and aesthetic unique to Japan, the exhibit offers powerful insights into art, craft, and the profound and constant interplay between history and our current time. Guests are encouraged to visit the Currey Gallery to view the exhibit during Watkins’s business hours. The show ends June 30th.

Yakishime-Earth Metamorphosis - Watkins College of Art

Incense Container by Wakasugi Seiko, 2015

 

Yakishime-Earth Metamorphosis - Watkins College of Art

Bowl and Cups by Shimizu Mayumi, 2015

 

Yakishime-Earth Metamorphosis - Watkins College of Art

Marbled Porcelain “Ryu no hako (Dragon Basket)” by Murofushi Eiji Nerikomi, 2014

 

Yakishime-Earth Metamorphosis - Watkins College of Art

“Drops” by Isesaki Koichiro, 2014

 

Yakishime-Earth Metamorphosis - Watkins College of Art

Wide-mouthed Jar by Sueki Ware, Heian period

Yakishime-Earth Metamorphosis - Watkins College of Art

Incense Burner “Ryu Issei”, Bizen Type by Shimamura Hikaru, 2014

 

Yakishime-Earth Metamorphosis - Watkins College of Art

“Where Shadow Meets Form, 2015-02” by Ikura Takashi, 2015

Yakishime-Earth Metamorphosis - Watkins College of Art

Vase by Kaneshige Yuho, 2015

 

Yakishime-Earth Metamorphosis - Watkins College of Art

Kakehana (Hanging Vase), Bizen Type by Isezaki Koichiro, 2014

Nashville Entrepreneur Bob Bernstein To Deliver Watkins Commencement Address

Posted on: May 10th, 2017 by Steve Wilkison

Ceremony will take place on May 20, 2017 at 10 a.m. at the college.

On Saturday, May 20, 2017, Nashville entrepreneur and CEO of Bongo Productions, Bob Bernstein, will address Watkins College of Art’s Class of 2017. The ceremony will take place beneath the tent on Watkins’s campus, beside its new Art Walk.

Bernstein has had a highly creative and fascinating journey to his current post as CEO of Bongo Productions, which oversees such Music City hotspots as Bongo Java, Fido, Fetch, Fenwick’s, and Grins. After initially attending three universities where he was reluctant to commit to a major, Bernstein decided to combine his interests in writing and politics and received his master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He moved to Nashville from Chicago in 1988 to work for the Nashville Business Journal. In 1991, a month shy of his 30th birthday, Bernstein quit journalism with the goal of opening a coffeehouse. In the 24 years since Bongo Java opened, he has grown his company into a $10-million restaurant group that owns seven cafes, two wholesale businesses, several licensed locations, as well as real estate property.

“I’m excited to share my story and to be part of the Watkins community,” says Bernstein. “I admire and am a bit envious that these students are pursuing their passions and exploring their talents. I’ve been a closeted writer since I quit journalism to open a coffeehouse. I enjoy what I do, but I also wonder what I could have done if I allowed myself to pursue different creative challenges.”

In addition to his businesses, Bernstein has been a founding board member of Hands on Nashville, Nashville Prep, Cooperative Coffees, and Nashville Independent Business Alliance. He is married to Irma Paz-Bernstein (co-owner of Las Paletas) and together they have two sons (Max, 11, and Alex, 8). He has written a children’s coloring book and a five-year weekly blog about his children.

Bernstein will speak to more than 40 emerging artists at the 2017 Commencement; these students will receive their degrees in graphic design, interior design, film, fine art, photography, or art.

“There is a profound connection between the thriving of a nation’s artists and the thriving of its collective society,” says Watkins President J. Kline. “We couldn’t be prouder to have been the incubator for this graduating class, who are now poised to become the creatives driving the creative economy in Music City and beyond. And we couldn’t be more pleased that the man who will speak to them about the joys, challenges, and the necessity of the artistic life has used his own creative abilities to enhance the city we all call home.”

The mission of Watkins College of Art is to challenge individuals to deepen their talent, refine their creative practice, and dedicate their lives to advancing culture through the illuminating power of art. The college boasts a high employment rate of students who work in the creative areas they studied (87 percent). Indeed, throughout its 132 years, Watkins has been a pioneer in connecting individuals to their highest potential. Begun by Samuel Watkins in 1885 with the goal of teaching the “business of life,” the college has mobilized to meet the needs of an ever-changing population, particularly those who may have struggled to gain their footholds, such as immigrants in the early 20th century, women as they joined the workforce in the 1930s and 40s, and servicemen upon their return from World War II.

This year, Watkins—which offers a 65,000-square-foot facility, state-of-the-art silo studios, and modern residence halls—initiated an ambitious effort to rebrand itself and will be unveiling over the next year more plans that seek to further its reputation as one of the finest arts conservatories in the country.

 

Get A Glimpse

Posted on: May 5th, 2017 by Steve Wilkison

At this spring’s​ Glimpse 2017 fête, ​W​atkins introduced​ ​more that 250 ​art lovers and the art-curious to up-and-coming talents whose work ​they would be wise to know about and collect now​. Guests toured and purchased pieces from these emerging masters while also noshing on creative small plates lakeside, listening to The Ukedelics and the vinyl-spinning of Third Man Records, and sampling the specialty drink “The Silo,” which celebrated the April opening of the converted grain silos Watkins artists will now use as studio space. Moving from a funky lounge space to the galleries to the Watkins theatre to take in student films, Glimpse 2017 demonstrated the profound connection between a thriving city and a thriving creative class.

Glimpse 2017 artists were: David Onri Anderson, Ashley Doggett, Lee Ann Hawkins, Mary Jeffords Hawkins, Stephan Micheletto-Blouin, Grace Pavlic, Elizabeth Sanford, Sarah Taylor, Sandra Ventura- Benitez, and Sean-Tyler Walton.

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Watkins board member Emme Baxter (center, in white)

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Watkins President J. Kline with Dana and George Miller

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Forrest Conner with wife and Watkins board member Stephanie Conner, along with Louise and Will Alexander

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Jane Stumpf, Katy Stumpf, and Watkins Board Chairman Sam Stumpf

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Glimpse 2017 artist Ashley Doggett in front of her work

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Sari Barton with husband and wife, Steve Kravitz and board member Samantha Saturn

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Treats from G. Catering

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Dessert artist Chef Burke from G. Catering

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Honorary Co-chair Mayor Megan Barry with Watkins President J. Kline and fellow Honorary Co-chair Callie Khouri

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Watkins President J. Kline with Glimpse 2017 Chairs DeeDee Wade, Mollie Reed, Molly Shasteen, and Brooke Porter Hawkins​

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Speciality drink “The Silo”

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Treats from G. Catering

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Student Artwork

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Watkins board member Waddell Wright and wife, Tove Gunnarson

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

Student Films in the Theatre

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

The Ukedelics

Watkins College of Art: Glimpse 2017

A poster at Glimpse 2017

A Room of Their Own

Posted on: April 12th, 2017 by Steve Wilkison

Watkins’s new silo studios are poised to become the most creative spaces in Nashville.

Although much has been made lately of colleges and universities tearing down their “silos”–spaces that keep disciplines from talking to one another–an important virtue of the silo can be overlooked. Spaces that allow allow artists and thinkers to go inward and immerse without distraction are often the incubators for society’s most creative and groundbreaking ideas.

A room of their own–near their own–is the point behind the 5,000 square feet that will welcome seniors as part of their capstone experience at Watkins. Not only are the silos spacious and airy, allowing natural light and ample display space, but they also offer easy interaction with peers from other disciplines and media.

Watkins College of Art

“This year we launched a new initiative in the teaching of the foundational skills for first-year students, which required a reconfiguration of our interior space to create modern, technologically forward, open-space workshops,” says Watkins President J. Kline. “Those spaces bring together students at the beginning of their educations at Watkins to cultivate collaboration and cross-disciplinary thinking. We think the silos complete that circle by providing the creative removal artists need when they’re focused on doing their most meaningful, culminating work, while at the same time keeping them in proximity to peers they’ve worked with during their years here.”

Watkins College Of Art

The silo studios, which have garnered a lot of attention from the Nashville media, represent another phase in Watkins’s evolution as one of the finest contemporary and accredited arts conservatories in the nation. Learn more about its recent rebranding here.


The ADDYs Go “MADDY” for Watkins

Posted on: March 3rd, 2017 by Steve Wilkison

At the student ADDY awards this year, held at Play in Nashville, Watkins made an impression. A big impression. According to Dan Brawner, chair of the graphic design department, “This was our best year to date in terms of number of awards, number of juror’s choice awards, diversity of categories, and number of students juried into the competition. And I’m certain this was the first year Watkins won an ADDY for photography.” A list of the winners and the categories follows:

Watkins College of Art

Watkins College of Art Student Addy Winners

Chris Adams

Student Gold ADDY in Packaging for The King’s Black Whiskey
Student Silver ADDY in Stationary Package for The Garden’s Melody

Derek Anderson

Student Gold ADDY in Packaging for Mohawk Loop
Student Gold ADDY in Magazine Advertising Campaign for Netflix Ad Campaign

Derek Anderson - Netflix Ad Campaign

Derek Anderson – Netflix Ad Campaign

Team​ of ​Chris Davidson, Lacy Frazier, Samantha Woolson

Student Gold ADDY in Poster, Single for Work 2016 Senior Exhibit Poster

Chris Fornal

Student Gold ADDY in Packaging for The Birds of Astrobrights
Judge’s Favorite for The Birds of Astrobrights

Noelle Grimes

Student Gold ADDY in Packaging for Inline Self-Care Box
Student Gold ADDY in Book Design for Call to Act

Nikki Horton

Student Silver ADDY in Illustration Campaign for Story Without Words

Chris Hughes

Student Gold ADDY in Website for Watkins Design Senior Show 2016
Student Gold ADDY in Logo Design for Tennessee State Parks Logo Series
Student Gold ADDY in Photography Campaign for “Miniature Kingdom” Photo Series
Student Silver ADDY in Poster, Single for Pearl Jam “Ten” Anniversary Poster

Taylor Karnes

Student Silver ADDY in Illustration, Single for Songwriter Festival

Jake Kennedy

Student Gold ADDY in Packaging for Lumen, the Lights Out Buddy
Student Silver ADDY in Printed Annual Report or Brochure for The Mystery of the Murdered Body
Student Silver ADDY in Poster, Single for 10th Annual Hot Chicken Festival
Judge’s Favorite for Lumen, the Lights Out Buddy

Abraham Lara

Student Silver ADDY in Publication Design – Cover for John 1, 2, and 3

Natalie Miles

Student Gold ADDY in Poster, Single for Student ​ADDY Poster
Student Silver ADDY in Poster, Single for Hangout Festival Poster

Watkins College of Art

Natalie Miles – Student Addy’s Poster, Chris Hughes – Pearl Jam Poster

Drew Nguyen

Student Gold ADDY in Cover/Editorial Spread or Feature – Series for The Hunger Games Series
Student Silver ADDY in Magazine Advertising, Single for Denim for Days
Student Silver ADDY in Illustration, Single for Self-Care

Grace Pavlic

Student Gold ADDY in Illustration, Single for Beast
Student Silver ADDY in Magazine Advertising, Single for Stories
Judge’s Favorite for Beast
Student Rising Star Scholarship Winner

Jeremy Searcy

Student Silver ADDY in Packaging for Apothic Red Wine

Alina Van Oostrom

Student Silver ADDY in Direct Marketing for American Traditional on Translucent
Student Silver ADDY in Printed Annual Report or Brochure for Small Stakes: Jason Munn

Lauren VanSickle

Student Silver ADDY in Direct Marketing for Ampersand Personality – Mohawk

Amber Woolson

(Photography major)
Student Gold ADDY in Photography Campaign for Standing Rock

Watkins College of Art

Chris Hughes, Natalie Miles, Jake Kennedy – Judge’s Award Winners

W. is for Watkins

Posted on: February 9th, 2017 by Steve Wilkison

The college undertakes a rebranding and in the process makes a new case for itself.

By Ron Wagner

Watkins.

That’s how students and alumni know it. That’s how Nashville knows it. And, with the completion of a six-month rebranding collaboration with the advertising agency GS&F, that’s how Watkins College of Art, Design & Film now knows itself.

“It’s incredibly important that we have a strong, clear, and distinct visual identity,” says Watkins president Dr. Jay Kline. “And now we do.”

When Kline was hired in the summer of 2015, he knew he was going to be leading an institution dedicated to nurturing and promoting creativity. Over the years, however, too many expressions of originality had begun to work against each other. “We weren’t using our brand very well. Our marketing materials were kind of across the spectrum. There really was no consistency, and when you don’t have a consistency in brand it’s difficult to have a consistency in message,” Kline explains. “So, from my first couple of days here I said, you know what? We need to get together, figure out who we are in a real sense, go through the branding process, and reintroduce the institution with this refreshed look.”

GS&F presented the finished product in late December, and over the next weeks and months the public will glimpse what impressed Kline and the rest of the Watkins community.

“We’ve just started to introduce it on our website,” Kline says. “It is directional. It points the eye toward a specific idea. The colors contribute to the sense of the institution. People won’t just notice the colors and the logo, though; they’ll also notice the new ideas about Watkins that this brand represents, in everything from our stationery, to our materials, to our advertising, to how we talk about ourselves. It will be everywhere.”

Such bold, ubiquitous campaigns are GS&F’s specialty, which is one of the reasons Watkins chose the company. Other GS&F clients include Bridgestone, the Tennessee Titans, and Carrier.

“They have a lovely reputation. We had a really good feeling from the initial meetings,” Kline says.

As a Nashville-based company, GS&F knew how important Watkins was to the city’s educational and cultural landscape. And after exploring multiple directions, inspiration for the institution’s future look came from its past.

Johnny Whitman

Johnny Whitman

“The school has been around since 1885, and we thought that most people didn’t realize that,” notes GS&F senior art director Johnny Whitman. “We got to the point of research that one our designers went down to the Nashville room in our library, where the books are so old you can’t take them away … We found some photography of the original building, which was in downtown Nashville, and over one of the entrances it just says ‘WATKINS’ really big, with a period in all caps. And we thought that was such a solid statement.”

The next challenge was to link those origins with the present, which Whitman and his colleague did by drawing from the life story of school founder Samuel Watkins. His tale is a compelling one.

Despite becoming an orphan at the age of four and lacking a formal education, Watkins built a fortune working with his hands as a brick manufacturer and builder. At the time of his death, he was reputed to be the wealthiest man in Nashville.

Watkins, however, never forgot his origins, and he became convinced that his legacy should be to elevate those who, due to circumstances, were forced into a certain station in life. At his death in 1880, Watkins left a downtown site and $100,000 as an endowment to the state of Tennessee in order to create a place that would pioneer adult education and offer opportunities for advancement.

Over the decades, those opportunities became critical for hundreds of thousands of people: immigrants who, sponsored by local citizens, took elementary school classes; those who flocked to the school during the Great Depression to acquire new skills; women who joined the workforce in increasing numbers starting in the 1930s and 40s; and servicemen returning from World War II.

Today, that DNA remains at the core of Watkins College, which believes not only in the elevating power of the creative economy, but also in ensuring that those most equipped to drive it—artists—find their proper place at the wheel. Not surprisingly, the rebrand reflects this history in literal and figurative ways.

“We landed on this red-orange (color) because of Samuel Watkins’s history as a mason,” Whitman says. “And if you look at the Watkins mark, it’s very simple. It’s got this nice, high contrast to it, and it’s very architectural.”

Adds Kline: “Samuel Watkins wanted to offer a place where lives were altered. That’s also the argument for art and for artists.”

The simplicity of the upgraded brand belies the complexity that went into its creation. GS&F met repeatedly with stakeholders from every department at Watkins and pulled and analyzed competitive audits from all schools in the region to find ways to set the college apart.

“There are other art schools in town, but Watkins is the only fully accredited art school in middle Tennessee,” Whitman says. “It shouldn’t be mixed in with the other art schools in town. It’s elevated. When we presented to the faculty, they said it was kind of like a mic drop because it’s so emphatic. It’s just Watkins, and nothing else,” Whitman says. “It’s sophisticated, but it’s subdued. The Watkins mark is not trying to scream.”

Watkins Color Palette

Screaming was also something Whitman was trying not to do as he and his team came down the homestretch. He would have been relieved with a positive client reception under any circumstances, but as a Watkins alum (class of 2013, graphic design major) there was extra urgency to do outstanding work.

“I was to the point of actually having nightmares that I was hanging out with my professors, and they’d be like, it just doesn’t work. So [that] gives you an idea that it was fun, but it was a ton of pressure,” Whitman says with a laugh. “It was really nice being the senior art director on my alma mater‘s (project), but you hope the professors that taught you how to do graphic design approve of your design of their school.”

Based on early returns, they’ve done just that. Kline had no idea a Watkins graduate would end up playing such a key role in the new look, but in retrospect it only makes sense: Of course great work would come from the school’s graduates.

“It’s a terrific brand. It’s clever. It has gravitas, but it has a lot of energy,” says Kline. “It looks backward but also forward. It reminds people why Watkins’s mission has always mattered, and why it matters even more going forward.”

Film School’s Spring 2017 Auditions Set for February 5th

Posted on: January 27th, 2017 by Steve Wilkison

Watkins College of Art, Design & Film will hold a general casting call for Spring 2017 student film projects on Sunday, February 5th, at the Watkins campus in Metro Center.  Directors of productions from the BFA and MFA film programs at Watkins will be looking for actors of all ages. Student films can be made under the SAG/AFTRA student film agreement and therefore all current union members are allowed to participate. Actors are asked to bring résumés and head shots for each audition (or a photo can be taken at the reading).

Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script (with on-camera readings at the discretion of each director). Casting breakdowns and proposed shoot dates (usually over a 3-day/Friday–Sunday period) for individual productions will be posted by January 27th. Please go to www.watkins.edu and type in auditions.

Audition slots will be divided according to gender and age throughout the day (12 p.m. to 4 p.m.).

Individual appointments are not available.

12PM to 1PM – Leading men, age range 19-40
1PM to 2PM – Leading and character men, age range 40 and up
2PM to 3PM – Leading women, age range 19-40
3PM to 4PM – Leading and character women, age range 40 and up
4PM to 5PM – Young men and women, age range 8-18

NOTE:  No overall make-up audition session will be offered. However, after production breakdowns are posted, actors who cannot attend the February 5th casting day may contact specific directors concerning particular roles. If headshots and résumés are submitted electronically, please include name in file title.

All cast members will be invited to a screening of projects at the end of the semester and will have access to an online copy of the film and a quick-time file (without music) to cut into a reel.

For any questions not answered here, email auditions@watkins.edu. Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in Metro Center (across from the Looby). Free parking is available in the campus lot.

More information to come at http://www.watkins.edu/event/watkins-film-school-casting-day/.

Additional Cast Breakdowns will be added next week.

Projects for Spring 2017 Semester

Production Title: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Union / Non-Union: Non-Union or SAG-AFTRA Signatory
Production Type: Student Production IV with Dialogue (Drama/Tragedy)
Project length: Short Film (40 minutes)
Shooting Location: Nashville, TBD
Shoot Dates: Late August/Early September 2017
Email: bparsons@watkins.edu

Compensation: No pay or SAG-AFTRA deferred payment, DVD copy, digital file and meals.

Synopsis:  A young woman travels to Canada with her fiancé for his father’s funeral. The trip quickly turns into an extended awkward encounter with his senile, cantankerous mother, his passive tool of a sister, his snobbish brother and sister-in-law, and his severely depressed, pot-smoking niece.

Characters: 

Carly Simpson: Lead: (mid-to-late 20s) An accountant from a small town in Virginia, Carly can be called kind and nurturing, but has no problem putting her foot down when she needs to. She is bright and strong, but not naive and can often read between the lines when it comes to the others’ odd behaviors.

Johnny Spencer: Lead: (late 20s-early 30s) Carly’s fiance and the youngest member of the Spencer family. He is typically calm and pleasant around Carly, but quick to anger and often times difficult to be around when it comes to matters of his family.

Daphne Spencer: Lead: (late 50s-mid 60s). Mother to Deb, Eric and Johnny, widow and strong matriarch of the Spencer family. She is a cruel bitter woman who constantly berates and chastises her children for almost no reason. Angry at change and disgruntled if things don’t go her way. A lot of power in a small package, not unlike dynamite.

Deb Lyman: Supporting: (mid 40s) Mother to Joy and the oldest of the Spencer children. Deb is Daphne’s sole caretaker, which has made her both incredibly passive when it comes to her mother’s verbal abuse and aggressive in regards to her own parenting.

Joy Lyman: Supporting: (late teens) Daughter of Deb and granddaughter of Daphne, Joy is very depressed after her father leaves and copes with the pain by lashing out at her weak mother and smoking marijuana. [Casting Note: Emancipated or legal 18+ preferred due to the dark nature of the script]

Eric Spencer: Supporting: (mid 30s) Married to Marie and the middle Spencer child. Eric has a certain charm that can be both enticing and creepy. Defensive of his mother and resentful towards his younger brother.

Marie Spencer: Supporting: (mid 30s) The ditzy and sometimes bubbly wife of Eric. She is unaware of most of the tension under the surface of most family situations and prefers to sweep the conflict under the rug, even to the point of ignoring her husband’s terrible actions.


Production Title: Remnants

Union / Non-Union: SAG-AFTRA Signatory and non-union
Production Type: Production IV
Project length: Short Film (25 minutes)
Shooting Location: TBD
Shoot Dates: April 7-8 & April 14-16
Email: cnoblin@watkins.edu

Compensation: SAG-AFTRA deferred payment. DVD copy, digital file and meals.

Notice: Strong violence and language.

Synopsis:  A post apocalyptic myth that explores the questions: who we were, who we are, and who can we become?

Characters: 

Kaiden Severn: Lead: A 20-something guy who does his best to keep his girlfriend and his best friend alive in this post-apocalyptic wasteland. He’s controlling and fearful, constantly worried about how they’re going to eat or drink water the next day.

Nick Monroe: Lead: A 20-something man who lost his wife to another group of survivors. He is alone, consumed by vengeance and thirsting for an eye for an eye. He’s quiet and reserved, a man on a mission.

Eris: Lead: A man that has become more beast than man. After the fall of civilization, Eris turned to cannibalism. His mind has been driven mad by eating the brains of his own species. He speaks in riddles and sentence fragments. His only goal is to feed.

Macen: Lead: A Southern man who wanders the wastes with a cadre of followers, robbing people they meet of anything they can get. For Macen, enough is never enough. He always wants more things, regardless of what it does to those around him.

Charlie Fletcher: Supporting: An older man who watches as the world he lives in falls to pieces. He’s a sad and lonely man, musing over his failures and longings for yesterday.

Adam Whills: Supporting: The 20-something friend of Kaiden and Lauren. He’s sarcastic and always full of laughs, refusing to accept how ruined his world has become.

Tyler: Supporting: The whiny and needy follower of Macen. He does whatever Macen says without question. His only desire is to advance his position in life.

Eddie: Supporting: Macen’s other follower. He’s silent and brooding, preferring to communicate in physicality.

Charlie Jr.: Supporting: Charlie’s son whose only desire is to be a kid.


Production Title: Anna, In Fragments

Union / Non-Union: Non-Union
Production Type: Production III
Project length: 20 minutes
Genre: Art-house, Drama
Shooting Location: Smyrna & Nashville
Shoot Dates: March 3rd & 4th/ March 10th & 11th
Email: jcole@watkins.edu

Compensation: Digital file and meals.

Synopsis: “An underage prostitute meets with a client.”

Preamble:  Anna, In Fragments is an objective observance of a singular woman’s emotional fallout from adolescent sexual assault, which follows the confusion of her own sexual identity, and her seemingly subconscious, violent response to sexual anxiety and contact.

Characters: 

Anna: Lead (18-25): She is open; compacted into dust. Bones split apart and ingested, she surveys at an idiosyncratic hyper-speed. Emotional velocity; ripped and torn. Suffocated by herself, via the fiber of her surroundings.

He: Lead (22-28): Absent and unavailable. A declining, insurmountable object, which cannot be moved. All are subservient, and all are released deformed.

Stranger: Supporting (22-28): The stranger encounters Anna on a city street. He walks into an alley, which she follows him into.


Production Title: Model Psychosis (working title)

Union / Non-Union: SAG-AFTRA Signatory/non-union
Production Type: Student (MFA Narrative Project)
Project length: Short Film (approximately 20 minutes)
Shooting Location: Nashville, TN and surrounding area
Shoot Dates: March 11, 12, 18, and 19
Email: mhoskins@watkins.edu

Compensation: SAG-AFTRA deferred payment. DVD copy, digital file and meals.

Synopsis: Two women, strapped for cash, volunteer to test an experimental drug in isolation for four weeks. The women form a bond, but also begin to experience unforeseen, sometimes hallucinatory side effects of the drug. When their contact suddenly disappears, leaving them stranded with no food supply, the women discover that the intentions of their employer may have been much more sinister than they could have known as they find themselves locked in a struggle for survival that takes place in reality as well as their own minds.

Characters: 

Elle: Lead: A practical, straight-laced woman in her mid 20’s. Finding most people superficial, she approaches life with logic, avoids unnecessary relationships, and isolates herself from others; she is willing, however, to reach out emotionally when someone is in need. She is sharp, curious, and enjoys intellectual pursuits, but expresses her own thoughts through drawing, at which she is adept. She prefers to take action and find solutions on her own rather than get help from others.

Christie: Lead: A strong, bubbly woman in her early/mid 30’s. Despite a recent breakup, she remains optimistic and places high value on people around her. She enjoys the simple pleasures of life, such as conversation and nature. Prone to dependency on other people and feels pressure to show others that she has value. She believes in working together and relying on the talents of others to overcome challenges and never leaves a friend behind.

Owen: Supporting: An ambitious graduate student who treats the women like test subjects as much as people. Talks and moves formally and clinically. He is results-oriented and believes that the end justifies the means. His aloofness causes him to have an air of mystery and secrecy about him.


Production Title: One More Christmas

Director: Steven B. Newman
Union / Non-Union: SAG/AFTRA Signatory or Non-Union
Production Type: Graduate Student Production with dialogue
Project length: approximately 22 minutes
Shooting Location: Int. Watkins College Studio’s – Int. TBD
Shoot Dates: TBD, 17-21 Feb 2017. Back up dates. 2-4 March
Email: sbnewman@watkins.edu
Phone: 305-431-0073

Compensation: TBD – No pay, DVD or Digital file copy, meals on set.

Synopsis: All Staff Sergeant Leo Harper wants is to get back to his unit, but he must learn to deal with his emotions before Dr. Birmingham will clear him for duty. After he is confronted by his peers, Leo opens up to Birmingham and we learn about his mother, Sherry Harper and how he was raised in the tradition of the Wolf’s code by his grandfather Vernon Bode, a grizzly old Vietnam Veteran with a Soldier’s Heart.

Characters: 

Leo Harper: Lead: Early twenties. Aged beyond his years, Leo’s demeanor epitomizes strength and determination. His job, protect his men at all cost. To his men, Leo is invincible. He is the very definition of a warrior. After he is wounded and loses his leg, all he wants is to get back to his unit, back into the fight. Some profanity.

DR. Clarissa Birmingham: Lead: A Colonel in her mid-forties to Mid-fifties could be anybody’s mother or grandmother. As a psychiatrist, she comes across as clinical. Frustrated. As an officer, impatient. All she cares about is helping Leo come to grips with his emotions. She expects him to get better, to be the leader he once was. She won’t clear him for duty until he opens up and deals with the pain he feels inside. It’s not his physical wounds that hold him back.

Vernon Bode: Lead: Mid-Seventies, Leo’s grandfather is a grizzly ole Vietnam Veteran with a Soldier’s heart. He lives by the tradition of the Wolf’s code as a way of facing his own demons. After his estranged daughter unexpectedly shows up late one Christmas eve, he takes on the task of raising his grandson Leo, who is a troubled teen. Leo’s father has left and his mother is dying.

Sherry Harper: Supporting: Mid-Thirties, her husband left her homeless with a teenage boy (Leo) to raise. She returns to live with her estranged father after she is diagnosed with an incurable disease. All she wants is a chance for Leo to have a home, a better life. She is the tragic figure in this story.

Abe “Vigo” Vigota: Supporting: Hispanic Late twenties, is a former Army Ranger from both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who confronts Leo about his behavior and shows him that “You can’t drink your problems away.”

Humberto, “Six Toes”: Supporting: 35-80 TBD, friends with Vigo, Six Toes is a Veteran who also confronts Leo about his behavior and tells him that, “PTSD Ain’t no excuse bro!”

Frankie “One Eye”: Supporting: 35-80, friends with Vigo, One Eye is a Veteran who also confronts Leo about his behavior and tells him that, “You’ve got to find a new purpose for your life Mijo!”

Sigmanitu Tonka “Big Wolf”: Supporting” Native American, Mid-Twenties. An apparition of a Lakota Sioux warrior, “SUGMANITU TONKA”(shuen-g-mah-nee-due dahn-kah – Big Wolf) appears to Leo in his dreams. He is the families Guaridan Angel, and Bode’s friend, Sgt. Jim Gardner, MIA/KIA – Vietnam, 1964. They never found his body.

Medic: Supporting: Mid-Twenties. Performs triage at the Helo Pad on Kandahar. Speaking part.

Non-Speaking Roles:

Dottie: Supporting: Mid-Thirties, Female – The apparition of Bode’s wife long since passed.

Sherry Harper as a Child: Supporting: 5-12 Years old. Bode’s memory of her.

Chaplain: Supporting: AGE TBD – Gives last rights to Leo at Kandahar Airfield.


Production Title: Pilots

Director: Jason Luckett
Union / Non-Union: SAG-AFTRA Signatory or Non Union
Production Type: Student MFA Production
Project length: 18 minutes
Shooting Location: Beaman Park, Sound Stage
Shoot Dates: February 26th, 27th, and March 10th-13th, with Pick Up Day March 31st

Compensation: DVD Copy and meals.

Synopsis: Emily and Peter are not having fun in space anymore. When Peter goes missing, Emily is really not having fun anymore when she has to try and find him before he gets himself into serious danger.

Characters: 

Emily: Lead: (mid to late 20s) An irritable space pilot who’s just trying to find her brother. For a while now, it’s been quiet and boring because Peter’s been sad. But when he’s suddenly abducted by an unknown force, she’ll need to use her friends, family, and wits to find him.

Peter: Lead: (mid to late 20s) Emily’s brother. He’s gone missing, and he’s pretty indifferent about it. Though when he’s put in a life-threatening situation, things from the past come back to haunt him.

Maisen and Chauncey: Supporting: (mid to late 20s) Emily’s married friends who give her advice while she’s in space.

Jordan: Supporting: (mid to late 20s) Peter’s boyfriend. He’s taking the game way too seriously.

Father: Supporting: (30s – 50s) Peter and Emily’s father. He is surprisingly helpful in Emily’s hunt for Peter, but really just wants to know if they’ll be home for dinner.

Various Voices: Supporting: Comedic voice-over characters who come into contact with Emily, to either help or pester her. Feel free to get silly and show us what you’ve got.


Production Title: #SquadGoals

Director: Robin Robinson
Union / Non-Union: SAG-AFTRA Signatory or Non Union
Production Type: Student (Graduate) With Dialogue
Project length: Short Film (12-15 minutes)
Shooting Location: Nashville, Davidson County
Shoot Dates: March 10, 2017 – March 13, 2017
Contact: Robin Robinson
Email: rrobinson@watkins.edu

Compensation: SAG-AFTRA deferred payment plus DVD copy, digital file and meals.

Synopsis: Anne, a young nerd, is desperate to be apart of the most popular squad in high school led by the beautiful Madison. While at first she is desperate to please Madison, once she gains entry to the squad, she is no longer happy with merely being a member. She becomes obsessed with becoming the squad leader, but she has to get rid of the Queen B first.

This film will cross the genres of teen and horror. It contains strong language and mild violence.

Characters: 

Anne Turner: Lead: An impressionable and hapless teenager (16-18), Anne is struggling to navigate the world of high school. Upon entering high school, she has become a social pariah. On top of that, former best friend, Madison, ditched Anne in her pursuits to become the most popular girl in school. Quiet, demure and eager to please, she tries to blend into the crowd. Secretly, she misses her former best friend and hopes they’ll mend their broken relationship. Upon entering Madison’s squad an inner beast is unleashed. Once she gets a taste of the spotlight, she will risk everything to remain at the forefront. Nor will she be satisfied with being #2. [Casting Note: Emancipated or legal 18+ preferred due to the explicit language]

Madison Banks: Lead: A ruthless, methodical, and calculating teenager (16-18) who has clawed her way to the top of the high school social hierarchy. She is used to things happening ‘her way.’ She runs her squad, and the school, with an iron fist. People both fear and adore her. Her reign of terror has gone unquestioned for some time now. She is beside herself when Anne, the dork she graciously transformed, dares to attempt to steal her crown. Madison fears no man and relishes the thought of putting Anne back into her place. [Casting Note: Emancipated or legal 18+ preferred due to the explicit language]

Paige: Supporting: A pretty but powerful enforcer, Paige is the fist in Madison’s iron fist reign. The young 16- to 18-year-old teenager ensures Madison’s will is done. She enjoys her job as the brute squad and adores Madison. She follows her blindly. [Casting Note: Emancipated or legal 18+ preferred due to the explicit language]

Tracy: Supporting: A gullible and dimwitted teenager (16-18), Tracy is just glad to be included. She often empathizes with Madison’s victims since Madison often mistreats her. However, she lacks the courage to stand up for herself and wouldn’t dare to leave the protection of the squad. Instead, she chooses to stick with the devil she knows. It’s just easier that way. Besides, Tracy isn’t one to rock the boat. [Casting Note: Emancipated or legal 18+ preferred due to the explicit language]

Mr. Turner (Anne’s Dad): Supporting: A well meaning but oblivious father who adores his daughter. A widower in his mid-to late-40s. He’s completely out of his element raising his only daughter alone. Optimistic, pleasant and at times over bearing in his desperate attempts to connect with his daughter.

Josh: Supporting: A sweet jock who hates the social hierarchy of his school. Still, he’s unwilling to go against the norm – lest he lose his top spot. Secretly, he’s attracted to Anne but fears the wrath of Madison who has her eyes set on him.


Production Title: Snow

Union / Non-Union: SAG-AFTRA Signatory/ Non-Union
Production Type: MFA Student Production (Graduate)
Project length: Short Film (10-15 minutes)
Shooting Location: Davidson County, Nashville, TN
Shoot Dates: March 23, 2017 – March 26, 2017
Contact: Stephanie Taylor, Producer
Email: smtaylor@watkins.edu

Compensation: SAG-AFTRA deferred payment. DVD copy, digital file, and meals.

Synopsis: A middle age mother struggles to deal with a dying stepdaughter in hospice care whose last wish is to see the snow because of a memory of happier times.

Characters: 

Alice Franklin: Lead: A strong-willed, country woman in her early- to mid-40’s, overwhelmed by her stepdaughter’s march towards death. Her world begins to unravel at the seems. Normally she is in total control, but the passing of the love of her life, Aurora’s father, has left her feeling powerless. Everything she loves is slipping away from her, and she has no idea how to handle death. This causes her mood to be unpredictable. If left alone, who knows what she is capable of?

Aurora Franklin: Lead: A 10-year-old child dying of cancer living in a hospice care facility in Florida. She represents everything good in the world – loving, caring, and kind. The most beautiful quality about her is patience. She sincerely believes that she will see the snow fall in Florida before she dies.

Edith Miller: Lead: A strict, calculating woman in her late-50’s to early 60’s who is concerned about one person, herself. In her pastime, she enjoys cigarettes and nagging her daughter, Alice, to the point of popping pills. She has no emotional attachment to her step-granddaughter, Aurora. She is only along for the ride when her daughter comes into town to visit Aurora.

Nurse (Younger): Supporting: A shy, frazzled lady in her mid- to late-20s just trying to muster up the courage to do her job.

Director (Older): Supporting: A strict but fair boss in his early- to mid-50s who rules his staff with an iron fist.


Production Title: Pockets

Union / Non-Union: SAG-AFTRA Signatory
Production Type: Student (Production III)
Project length: Short Film (20 minutes)
Shooting Location: Nashville, TN & Mansfield, OH
Shoot Dates: February 25th-26th & March 12th-14th
Email: treynolds@watkins.edu

Compensation: SAG-AFTRA Deferred Payment, travel expenses and housing, digital file, and meals.

Synopsis: Cora, a young urban explorer, must uncover the mystery behind her friend’s disappearance and rescue him before it is too late.

Characters: (Use the roles listed below as a guide)

Cora: Lead: A mid-twenties urban explorer. Cora uses her whit and determination to solve any problem that comes her way. She is honest and faithful to a fault, getting her into some shady situations.

Liam: Supporting: Cora’s best friend, Liam is skeptical of nearly everything. He would much rather fix a problem on his own than with the help of others. That said, he is with Cora until the end of the line.

Warren: Supporting: A mid-40s physicist, Warren is intelligent, witty, and somewhat stern. It’s his way or the highway. He currently works as the caretaker of an abandoned prison and studies the building’s greatest mystery.

Kip: Supporting: Liam and Cora’s friend, Kip is the wise guy of the group. An extremely rational character, Kip keeps his friends out of trouble the best he can.


Production Title: Again (Romantic Drama)

Director: Jason Hassell
Union / Non-Union: SAG-AFTRA Signatory or Non Union
Production Type: Student Production III with Dialogue
Project length: 15-20 mins
Shooting Location: Nashville
Shoot Dates: March 3rd-5th and March 19th
Email: jhassell@watkins.edu

Compensation: SAG-AFTRA deferred payment plus DVD copy, digital file and meals.

Synopsis: A story about a musician who is asked to write a love song but soon to find out he is not the romantic type as his ex-girlfriend comes into town and we dive into their past and their future.

Characters:

Dean: Lead: (mid-20’s to 30’s) – Dean is a singer/songwriter in his mid-twenties who is looking for a distraction from his recent breakup. He is shy and hung up still on Sadie and everyone close around him knows it.

Sadie: Lead: (mid – 20’s to 30’s) – Sadie is Dean’s ex girlfriend who has moved out of town to pursue a career away from their small town but gets brought back into Dean’s life unexpectedly. She is in her mid-twenties as well but for her young age she is outgoing and ambitious.


Women of Abstraction

Posted on: January 6th, 2017 by Steve Wilkison

Opening January 7, 2017, Tinney Contemporary Gallery in Nashville’s Arts District presents, Women of Abstraction, an exhibition of new work that features Watkins alumna Mildred Jarrett and Watkins trustee Anna Jaap.

“The common thread among these artists is their commitment to abstraction,” says the gallery. “Anna Jaap’s new body of work is full of emotion, featuring delicately layered text-inspired mark-making. Mildred Jarrett, a true veteran in the Nashville art scene, [offers] intricate, painterly compositions that command attention and inspire conversation. These artists captivate and invite viewer engagement, attesting to the enduring appeal of abstract art.”

The show will run until February 11th.

Artwork by Anna Jaap.

Reel Disruption

Posted on: November 11th, 2016 by Brendan Tapley

As virtual reality changes the language of film, where it leaves the filmmaker has become an open question.

By Richard Gershman

Disruptive art may be a redundant term since arguably all art, in forcing us to look at the world differently, disrupts. But traditionally, when we think about art that disrupts, what we’re really thinking about are disruptive artists. That notion, however, may be changing, given the influence of technology across artistic disciplines, and in particular in filmmaking.

Virtual Reality by Sean Walton

Virtual reality, or VR, is increasingly becoming one such disruptive technology. VR first began as a construct of science fiction writers, and then, with the advent of video gaming, appeared in the mainstream as clunky arcade games. At that time, early adopters of the technology also included the health, automobile, and military industries, but it was not until computing power developed sufficiently that what we now regard as VR—a streaming, immersive, 360-degree image that surrounds us in a created “world”—could emerge. This evolution has largely occurred only in the last five years.

VR essentially asks the viewer to stand inside a globe. The realities it creates can be photographically authentic or completely fabricated, but in most respects VR requires the viewer to guide her or his experience. This may seem like a nuance, but its implications are significant. While VR may not have begun with the idea of infringing on, or perhaps supplanting, the artist, what’s interesting—or troubling, depending on your viewpoint—is how the technology challenges us to do things independently of the artist. In ways the artist may not necessarily control.

Consider the fundamental tool of filmmaking (also of painting and photography): the frame. In VR, the frame is eliminated. Instead, VR offers a “canvas” where the viewer bears the responsibility of deciding where to look. Once a viewer is handed the responsibility of deciding what’s important, it becomes logical to ask: What is the artist’s role?

In that same spirit, if an artist loses his or her ability to orchestrate an experience fully, do audiences also lose something?

Since VR is a first-person experience, filmmakers wading into VR quickly realize and must embrace that their audience of one will be experiencing their stories differently. For VR proponents, that may connote a more personal and intense encounter with the work. A car crash becomes much more horrific if you are in the middle of it, a love scene more voyeuristic if you are seated in a chair in the bedroom. For critics, however, the “detachment” that audiences encounter when the artist is more in control actually allows them to be less distracted and to better focus on and wrestle with the ideas the work summons.

The question becomes: Does participation ultimately render a work of art more temporal and disposable—“been there, done that”—or does VR allow us to embody it more? Put another way: Do we need artists to guide us in order to have a transcendent moment, or are we capable of generating that on our own?

Then there is the question of genre.

Just as VR creates new possibilities, it challenges us to rethink some of the old models. Some things do not work as well in VR. Comedy, for instance, relies heavily on a group experience. That challenge faced programmers in the early days of television. That’s why laugh tracks were added to sitcoms as viewers sitting alone in their dens were not as apt to laugh unless cued by others’ laughter. Of course this has since become hackneyed and annoying and now only sparingly used. But, if you are watching a comedic scene in VR by yourself, are you as likely to laugh?

Action sequences, so far, don’t seem to work as well in VR because they have to either be elaborately staged where you don’t see the artifice involved or depend on extensive editing, which has also proven to be challenging. In today’s film lexicon, we accept the ability to constantly change the point of view of a scene by editing different angles and shots together. In VR, hard cuts are unsettling and more self-conscious. So, most VR films stay in a singular point of view and make few transitions, usually by fading in and out or by dissolving from one scene to another.

All of this begs another debate about the communal nature of art. What do we lose or gain by strapping on a VR mask and plugging in? With the adoption of VR technology, will audiences see any reason to go out to a movie theatre?

For some, the experience of a dark movie theatre and being transported to a galaxy far, far away is why driving 10 miles and enduring eight-dollar cartons of popcorn is worthwhile. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would do the same to don a headset and watch a film in isolation. So will VR just be a home device that appeals mostly to gamers? Or will it evolve to the point where other people will inhabit your film as themselves or their own avatars? Maybe that’s the next evolution for VR.

VR technology has already been successfully adapted to many areas. In sports, athletes can experience real-time game dynamics without risking injury. In the military, pilots can train in combat without losing a $20-million plane. In travel, the vacationer can sample a stateroom on a cruise ship or a walk through the Kasbah before buying an expensive vacation. If VR is to succeed as a new way to tell stories, artists will have to figure out what those stories are and how to build a cinematic language to tell them.

Sound, for example, becomes more important. Sound can cue the viewer to look in a particular direction, seeing something the artist wants him or her to experience. Moving the observer’s point-of-view is another technique that can create focus, as most viewers in a VR setting will naturally want to see where they are heading.

As with all disruptive technologies, virtual reality presents artists with the opportunity to invent new ways to express themselves and connect to an audience. But it also forces artists to examine basic and fundamental concepts that define their art form. At the same time VR encourages the creation of new paradigms, it raises questions about whether those paradigms fulfill the purpose of the artist or the artful moment.

It has been said that there are no new stories to tell, only new ways to tell a story. VR may be new proof of this truth.

Richard Gershman is the chair of the film department at Watkins. He began his career in theatre where he served on the staff at the Mark Taper Forum and the Seattle Repertory Theatre. He has more than 50 stage productions to his credit, and his television and film work includes direction of multiple episodes of Judging Amy and Chicago Hope, and the award winning short subject, Joni & the Whales (HBO, A&E Network). He has also worked on such features as The Hunt for Red October and Queen’s Logic. The illustration above was created by Watkins student Sean-Tyler Walton.