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Media arts sophomore premieres feature film ‘Black Box’

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Article Originally Published by Madeleine Moore on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Madeleine Moore on North Texas Daily

Over the course of a year and a half, media arts sophomore Michael Scott wrote, produced, directed, edited and is now screening his first feature-length film “Black Box.”

Scott began pre-production of “Black Box” in early May 2020 during his gap year between high school and college. Though he wrote the screenplay himself, he credits his friend and fellow student Jack Tanzy for helping him come up with the film’s premise.

“[Tanzy] and I started writing down these terrible, awful ideas,” Scott said. “We would go through these ideas and eventually, we got to the climax of ‘Black Box.’ We just kind of started backtracking from there, outlining everything in Post-it Notes around my room.”

Following Mary Langhorn, played by University of Southern California sophomore Maaya Shaw, the adventure-comedy depicts her desire to break away from mundane life. After discovering two DVDs that reveal the path to an artifact called “Black Box,” Mary, her boyfriend Pierce Dalton, played by Texas A&M senior Thomas Land and her brother Eddie, played by Texas A&M student Owen Dunston, go on an adventure to find it.

The cast additionally features Auburn University junior McKay Parker as Jessica Keetler and actor William Jackman as Pheonix Keetler.

Scott has been making films for 13 years, all of which are featured on his YouTube channel “Golden Sword Films.” He became interested in filmmaking after his dad gave him a flip video camera, then he eventually learned video editing using iMovie.

Though he regularly creates short films, “Black Box” has a runtime of 53 minutes, making it his first feature-length film. Prior to “Black Box,” Scott’s longest film had a runtime of 18 minutes, and he said because his latest film is longer, the casting process was difficult.

“The very first day I kind of used as a litmus test in order to figure out if these people were actually serious about finishing the film, and I was proven wrong,” Scott said. “I’m cynical and was like, ‘Dang, I didn’t think they were going to care about this,’ but they do. They definitely did care about it.”

Scott said he and the company considered the time commitment to be the most difficult part of the production, as the production process took three to four months of continuous filming during summer 2020.

“With a student-led film where there’s absolutely no budget and nobody’s really getting paid, it’s hard,” Land said.

Above all else, however, Scott said the film’s driving factor was the passion they shared for the film and its completion.

“I loved the people who came on board,” Scott said. “I’ve never worked on a project where – and this sounds bad but it’s true – people actually wanted to be there.”

Prior to “Black Box,” Shaw’s acting experience consisted of solely stage acting at Highland Park High School, which Shaw previously attended. After her theater posted the casting call for Scott’s film, Shaw got involved.

“Everyone was there because they had a reason to be there,” Shaw said.

Scott spent nearly a year editing the film before it was ready to be screened. His film caught the attention of The Angelika while discussing with someone in the university’s Union Starbucks, and someone overheard them talking and chimed in.

“I went to go get coffee with this guy and got a contact of a guy who works at The Angelika, then I met up with that guy and we negotiated a price,” Scott said. “I’ve never contacted any of the other guys again, but they helped me get to the screen.”

Parker, who grew up with Scott, said she was excited for Scott after seeing him produce videos in high school with his “gift for creating stories.”

“The whole artistry of this is that Michael did this all himself,” Parker said. “I’m just hoping people see even with a budget, not a ton of time and a bunch of different personalities, he was able to create something.”

“Black Box” will be screened at The Angelika Dallas on Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at eventbrite.com/e/black-box-premiere-tickets-173840691187.

Photo courtesy of Michael Scott

Source: North Texas Daily

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