I would like to start off by thanking the individuals that brought Campus Movie Fest to Clemson. As a University without a film school, there are so many students eager to work in video production and CMF brought people out of the woodworks from all different majors and of all ages. Personally, I probably would not have set aside the time to produce my documentary had it not been for Campus Movie Fest.
The story I decided to tell was about a lifelong Clemson fan named Bryson Carter. Anyone who has the chance to listen to him speak will immediately realize what an amazing human being he is.
The opportunity to participate in the largest student film festival in the world was such a valuable experience for me. Bryson’s story is something that I feel very passionate about and I had wanted to tell his story ever since I met him at the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix this past year. CMF gave me the opportunity to dedicate one week to make the documentary happen. Producing a film in one week was stressful, but more importantly, it was extremely rewarding.
There were several obstacles on shoot day - the biggest one being lack of time. I had put so many hours into planning and I wanted everything to work seamlessly, but we all know it never happens that way. I only had four hours with Bryson on the Saturday before our films were due to shoot his interview and b-roll. That scared me. His story deserved to be told, but my biggest fear was that I didn’t have enough time to execute it the way I saw it in my head. Panic struck when the Ronin stabilizer failed to work. Throughout my stressful moments, I had failed to notice Bryson’s emotions. When I finally glanced up at him as we were prepping for his interview in the West End Zone of Death Valley, I could see the joy on his face. Although he could not see it, he was facing out toward the field. He was enjoying every moment of the process and that is when I realized I should be doing the same, instead of stressing that everything wasn’t going as planned. Instead of wasting more time trying to get the equipment to work, I decided to start shooting. I set my frame rate to 60 fps and hoped for the best. In the end, I liked the look of handheld better than if I had stabilized my shots because it fit with the mood of the documentary.
While there were surely aspects of the shoot that I learned from and would improve next time, I am extremely proud of the final piece and even more proud of Bryson for his ability to tell his story. Bryson reiterated his thoughts and emotions perfectly and focused on everything he was thankful for. He made it very difficult for me to cut down the footage to 5 minutes. He had so many wonderful things to say.
At the CMF Premiere, Bryson was unable to be there, but his girlfriend Tara came and sat with my family and friends. When the host announced that 136 had won the last of the four jury awards, we were all just ecstatic for Bryson. As the film moves on to the next round of screening at Terminus in Atlanta in June, I look forward to having Bryson’s story reach even more people. His dream is to end up in Clemson, and as he puts it “just to live and work in Clemson. There’s nothing like it. This is the best place. This is where I want to be."