Media Arts Sophomore Presents Feature Film ‘Black Box’ – North Texas Daily

In a year and a half, Michael Scott, a sophomore in media arts, wrote, produced, directed, edited and is currently screening his first feature film “Black Box”.

Scott began pre-production on “Black Box” in early May 2020 during his gap year between high school and college. Although 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 these terrible, awful ideas,” Scott said. “We were going through these ideas and eventually, we came to the climax of ‘Black Box.’ We just started going back from there, describing everything in Post-it notes around my room.

Following Mary Langhorn, played by Maaya Shaw, a sophomore at the University of Southern California, the adventure comedy depicts her desire to break away from mundane life. After discovering two DVDs that reveal the path to an artifact called the “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 this.

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

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

Although he regularly creates short films, “Black Box” has a duration of 53 minutes, which makes it his first feature film. Prior to “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 of whether these people were really serious about the ending of the movie, and I was proven wrong,” Scott said. “I’m cynical and I was like, ‘Dang, I didn’t think they were going to care,’ but they do. They definitely cared.

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

“With a student-directed film where there’s absolutely no budget and nobody really gets paid, it’s tough,” 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 this sounds bad but it’s true – people really wanted to be there.”

Prior to “Black Box”, Shaw’s acting experience consisted solely of performing on stage at Highland Park High School, which Shaw previously attended. After her 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 nearly a year editing the film before it was ready for screening. His film caught the attention of The Angelika while he was chatting with someone from the university’s Union Starbucks, and someone overheard them talking and intervened.

“I went for coffee with this guy and got in touch with a guy who works at The Angelika, then I met this guy and we negotiated a price,” Scott said. “I never contacted the other guys again, but they helped me get to the screen.”

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

“The whole art of it all is that Michael did it all himself,” Parker said. “I just hope people see that 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 The Angelika Dallas on December 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

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