10:29 AM

A Real-World Movie-Making Class at USTMAX Center

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[VISUAL: Fade up on lively indoor modern classroom filled with eager students and three instructors. Backdrop is white wall with bold black letters, “USTMAX”]

With the feature film “The Author” being produced in Montgomery County and the production company offices only footsteps away from the USTMAX micro-campus in Conroe, the University saw an irresistible opportunity. A Film Practicum class was designed and filled with students eager to learn the movie business. Their instructors? Former Hollywood screenwriter and adjunct professor Jeff Olsen; and Walker Cable Productions producer Sam Cable and director Chuck Walker.

The 14-week class covered the five stages of producing a movie, including the final one, marketing.

Sam Cable, who has produced an estimated 30 films, shared what he calls one of the most important lessons. He said, “Actually, shooting the movie is the most expensive stage, so you have to have the entire filmmaking schedule completely planned out before you start to shoot, or you run the risk of running out of money.”

Thomas Rincones, graduating in May ’21 with a major in Drama and Communications, was all eyes and ears in the class.

“I jumped at the chance to sign up immediately,” he said. “I’ve always loved movies. Every week, we’d sit down with the producer and director to hear how you make a movie happen, the day-in and day-out process. There’s what it takes to get the money to produce and all of the nitty-gritty like catering, transportation and union issues. I have an artistic brain for filmmaking, but there are lots of little things I didn’t think about.”

Recently, the class wrapped up at USTMAX Center, perfectly timed so that the students could then participate behind the scenes in the movie’s filming.

“We helped to set up the lighting rigs, the sound system, and we helped to clean up when we were done at one location and then set up at the next location,” Rincones said.

Olsen, also vice president for Marketing and University Relations, said, “This semester, the folks at Walker Cable Productions gave our UST students a rare opportunity, not just to learn how to make a movie, but to actually work on the movie once it went into production. We’re thrilled that they partnered with us to benefit our students and look forward to working with them again.”

“The Author is a faith and family film. It’s “a story not unlike your story,” which offers important questions for viewers to ponder, such as “Is there an author to this creation of life or is there only chaos?”

Cable said, “We’re in the process of lining up live theaters and dotcom platforms to bring the film to a broad audience.”

Doubtless, "The Author" is another shot in the arm to the growing filmmaking industry in Montgomery County. In March, the Conroe Film Commission became the newest member of the Texas Association of Film Commissions, which is a co-op of 12 film commissions. Together, they work to market the region to film, television and commercial productions.

And discussions have begun toward developing another USTMAX Center filmmaking class providing experience with real world movie-making.

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[VISUAL: Fade to black and roll credits]