In a year and a half, sophomore media arts student Michael Scott has written, produced, directed, edited and is currently screening his first feature film “Black Box”.
Scott began pre-production of “Black Box” in early May 2020 during his gap year between high school and college. Although he wrote the script himself, he thanks his friend and fellow student Jack Tanzy for helping him find the premise for the film.
“[Tanzy] and I started writing these terrible, horrible ideas, ”Scott said. “We were going through those ideas and, ultimately, we came to the climax of the ‘Black Box’. We just started to go back from there, describing everything in Post-its around my room.
After Mary Langhorn, played by University of Southern California sophomore Maaya Shaw, the adventure comedy portrays her desire to break away from social life. After discovering two DVDs that reveal the path of 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, set off for the ‘adventure to find this.
The cast also includes McKay Parker, a junior from Auburn University, as Jessica Keetler and actor William Jackman as Pheonix Keetler.
Scott has been directing films for 13 years, all of which are featured on his YouTube channel “Golden Sword Films”. He became interested in filmmaking after his father gave him a clamshell video camera, and then he eventually learned video editing with iMovie.
Although he regularly creates short films, “Black Box” runs for 53 minutes, making it his first feature film. Before “Black Box,” Scott’s longest film was 18 minutes long, and he said that because his last film is longer, the casting process was difficult.
“The very first day I kind of used it as a litmus test to see if these people really wanted to finish the movie seriously, and I was proven to be wrong,” Scott said. “I’m cynical and I was like, ‘Dang, I didn’t think they were going to care,’ but they do. They really cared. “
Scott said he and the company considered the time commitment to be the most difficult part of production, as the production process took three to four months of continuous filming during the summer of 2020.
“With a student-directed film where there’s absolutely no budget and no one is really getting paid, it’s difficult,” Land said.
Above all, however, Scott said the defining factor of the film 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 it sounds bad but it’s true – people really wanted to be there. “
Prior to “Black Box,” Shaw’s acting experience consisted entirely of performing on stage at Highland Park High School, which Shaw had previously attended. After his theater released 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 almost a year editing the film before it was ready to be screened. Her movie caught The Angelika’s attention as he was chatting with someone from the University’s Union Starbucks, and someone overheard them talking and stepped in.
“I went for coffee with this guy and contacted a guy who works at The Angelika, and then I met this guy and we negotiated a price,” Scott said. “I never contacted the other guys again, but they did help me get to the screen.”
Parker, who grew up with Scott, said she was excited about Scott after watching him produce videos in high school with his “gift for creating stories.”
“The art of it all is that Michael did it all himself,” Parker said. “I just hope 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 screen at Angelika Dallas on December 15th at 7 pm. Tickets cost $ 10 and can be purchased online at eventbrite.com/e/black-box-premiere-tickets-173840691187.
Photo courtesy of Michael Scott