Robert Gordon, Toy Story Editor, Joins WFS FacultyRobert Gordon, the editor of Toy Story, The Return of the Living Dead, The Blue Lagoon and many other films, has joined the faculty of the Watkins Film School. Professor Gordon will be the WFS lead teacher in the field of editing and post-production, one of the five concentrations within the Watkins Film School.
Gordon joined the WFS faculty after a nearly seven-month long, exhaustive national search.
“We’re thrilled to have Bob here,” WFS Chair Steven Womack said. “He brings a lifetime of expertise and knowledge to our faculty.”
Formerly an instructor at the Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles, California, Gordon was also a guest lecturer at UCLA and USC.
A graduate of UCLA (where he was a classmate of Francis Ford Coppola’s and edited Coppola’s student films), Gordon has already begun revamping the editing/post-production track at Watkins Film School.
“We’re going to incorporate instruction in Avid into the curriculum sooner,” he explained. “Our students are already proficient in Final Cut Pro by the time they graduate, but they need to have a solid handle on both systems.”
“Bob joins the WFS faculty during one of the most exciting times in the school’s history,” Womack added. “We’ve just had the largest incoming freshman class in years. We’re incorporating HD into the curriculum. We’ve just upgraded our editing labs to handle the high definition workflow and completely upgraded and improved our field sound capability. It’s all part of our mission to equip the next generation of filmmakers to go out into the world and make their mark.”
Watkins Alumnus Wins Top Prize at Nashville Film Festival
Make Out With Violence, a feature film co-written, co-directed, and co-produced by Watkins Film School alumnus Chris Doyle, (2003/Directing), has swept three of the top awards at the 2009 Nashville Film Festival, it was announced Sunday, April 19th.
The movie—a teenage romance, coming-of-age zombie movie—won the festival’s top honor, the Regal Cinemas Dreammaker Award. The award prize includes a theatrical run in Los Angeles, which makes the film eligible for an Academy Award.
Shot entirely in Middle Tennessee, and much of it on the Watkins Film School campus, Make Out With Violence also won two other top honors: The Tennessee Spirit Award and Best Music In A Feature Film.
The directing, writing, and producing credits on the film read “Deagol Brothers.” The Deagol Brothers are a creative partnership formed by Doyle and his former Hendersonville High School classmate, Andy Duensing.
Make Out With Violence is the story of two twin brothers, Patrick and Carol Darling, (played by Eric Lehning and Cody DeVos) who struggle to deal with the disappearance and death of their friend, Wendy (played by Shellie Marie Shartzer, in her first acting role). When Carol and their younger brother, Beetle, (played by Brett Miller, who provides an eerie voice-over narration for the film) discover Wendy’s corpse in a forest, the dead body mysteriously reanimates. The brothers carry the zombified Wendy back to a friend’s house and hide it for the summer.
Meanwhile, their friends are spending their last summer before college partying, hooking up, and in some cases, trying unsuccessfully to hook up.
Village Voice and Nashville Scene movie critic Jim Ridley called the film: “…one of the most striking features ever to originate in Nashville—a lyrical, surreal, and deeply felt zombie movie that constantly subverts and rethinks the genre.”
In his blog, writer Noralil Ryan Fores wrote: “With its deftly handled blends of style and score, Make Out WithViolence is at its best as an experiment; it’s both familiar and unexpected, nonchalant and thought-provoking, slapstick comic and full of all that’s yearning and desolate.”
The film’s contributors included a long list of Watkins Film School alumnae and current students. Alums Michael Luckett and Beau McCombs acted in the film. WFS alumnus Pouria Montazeri was associate producer, and one of the film’s cinematographers was James King. Brad Bartlett co-edited the film and Watkins College of Art, Design and Film Fine Arts major Iwonka Waskowski received an Art Directing credit. Recent WFS graduate Matt Pfingsten created the special effects.
Interviewed by WFS Chair Steven Womack after winning the award, Chris Doyle admitted that he was still reeling from the news. "I did feel kind of weird, because it was very unexpected,” he said. “But we were all pleasantly surprised and very honored.”
"We’re incredibly proud of Chris and all the young filmmakers who created this remarkable film,” Womack added. “And this is a great day for Watkins. How many film schools can claim that a short fourteen years after they opened their doors, one of their students would be eligible for an Academy Award?”
Make Out With Violence has screened at numerous film festivals, including among others the Independent Film Festival Boston, the Salem Film Festival in Salem, Oregon, and the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas.
For more information on Make Out With Violence, visit the film’s website at www.makeoutwithviolence.com.
WFS Student 48 Hour Film Project To Screen
At Cannes "Shorts Corner"
WFS students who completed an award-winning 48 Hour Film Project entry last July have just had the movie accepted into the Shorts Corner and will be screened in Cannes during the Cannes Film Festival.
Nuts, directed by WFS students Doug Mallette and Paul Cain, has been accepted into the Shorts Corner at the festival, which will be held May 13-24 in Cannes, France. The Shorts Corner is sponsored by the Cannes Film Festival.
Nuts is a thriller about an actress who takes a job advertising a small business in a squirrel costume. When she is attacked and brutalized by a gang of hooligans, she seeks—and gets—revenge.
Written by Doug Mallette, the film starred Brooke Wood as the victimized actress. The film also stars Dallas Birchfeld, David Fritts, Tim Krau, and Watkins Film School professor Sean Miller. The film was produced by WFS student M.K. Sisco and edited by Mariel Hamm, Adam Parsons, and Jeremy Pearce.
WATKINS ALUMNUS—EIGHT MONTHS AFTER GRADUATION—WINS EMMY
Eight months after graduating from the Watkins Film School, 32-year-old Texas native Brian Hallett won his first Emmy.
Hallett—along with television anchor Laura Faber and News Director Ken Smith from Nashville’s Fox affiliate, WZTV-17—won a regional Emmy in the Continuing Coverage category for their news feature Service & Sacrifice.
Video © The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
Nashville/Midsouth Region—Used By Permission
This wasn’t Hallett’s first time to the Emmy’s, however. While still a senior, the Film/Directing major was nominated for an earlier installment of the continuing series. What was it like to be a senior in college and nominated for an Emmy?
“It was nice,” Hallett said. “It was a year-long project and we put a lot of hard work in on it. It was nice to be recognized.”
Hallett shot, edited, and co-produced the documentary, which was about the sacrifices made by the Horn family of Nashville as the father, Cliff, went off to Iraq to serve as a Navy SeaBee. While there, his wife, Sara, had to keep the family together. Among their other sacrifices, Cliff missed out on his son, Caleb’s, birthday.
Hallett credits his experiences at Watkins with giving him more insight into the deeply human story of the Horn family.
“Studying story in screenwriting and directing in Andrew Newell’s directing classes gave me the drive to dig deeper and go below the surface,” he said.
While a full-time student at the Watkins Film School, Hallett worked full time as a news videographer at WZTV-Fox 17. He continues his work there, but has also established a thriving freelance practice as a music video producer/director. He recently completed work on the latest video by emerging singer/songwriter Alana Grace.
“That was a great experience,” Hallett adds. “We had an all-Watkins crew and a Watkins alum, Scott Simmons, did all the editing and post at Filmworkers Club here in Nashville.”