By Bonnie Berger
Adam Buckley, a Sigma Zeta Chi pledge, sits blindfolded in the back of a van. He learns that the final fraternity initiation requires a convenience store robbery.
Minutes later, a fellow pledge is shot.
In an initiation gone awry, Buckley must fight against time and his new fraternity brothers in order to save his friend’s life.
So begins the plot of “Brotherhood,” a recently released film directed and co-written by former Baylor student Will Canon.
“Most sorority or fraternity movies are either silly comedies or they’re cheesy horror flicks,” Canon said. “I wanted to do something that was much more dramatic and people took more seriously. I didn’t feel like it had been done before.”
Based on Canon’s 2001 short film “Roslyn,” inspiration for the Greek thriller came from friendships in Waco and observations of initiations in fraternities. Canon extensively researched for the film, interviewing students involved in Greek life, reading feature material and viewing documentaries.
“After that, I went and hung out with a fraternity at a school in Texas,” he said. “They let me hang out and shoot some video when they were taking pledges through the first part of the process.”
A New York University Film School graduate, Canon attended Baylor during his sophomore year and focused on perfecting his writing skills.
“I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” he said. “For me, there were great professors like [Robert Darden, associate professor of journalism and media arts] and other great people there that really helped me.”
Darden saw the potential of Canon’s work, especially his screenplay writing early in Canon’s career.
“Will came to me after his freshman year and said that his goal was to write screenplays,” said Darden. “I was astounded at the quality of his work. You can tell really quickly the kids who had a passion for writing and Will was one of them.”
Canon kept in touch with Darden after transferring to New York University his sophomore year, where he began directing short films.
“Film school taught him to direct,” Darden said. “His dream was still the same – to keep working until he got the opportunity to write and direct his full-length film.”
That dream became reality with “Brotherhood,” which debuted at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas.
Encompassing subjects students and adults can relate to, the film cast quickly connected with the plot.
“I feel like this is an extreme version of something that’s real,” said actor Lou Taylor Pucci during a “Good Morning Texas” interview Monday. “This movie is fun to watch and is original because it’s real.”
Many actors compile the cast, including Trevor Morgan, who starred in “The Sixth Sense” and “The Patriot,” as well as Jon Foster, who stars in the CBS comedy “Accidentally On Purpose.”
An audience favorite, “Brotherhood” won numerous awards in the film festival circuit, including the South by Southwest Film Festival Audience Award and Audience, Best Director and Special Humanitarian Awards at the Sidewalk International Film Festival.
“I want people to be entertained by it,” Canon said. “If they take something away that’s deeper than that, then it’s about a character who has to find strength within himself to do the right thing. For me, that’s what the movie is about.”
In continuation with a promotional tour, the film opens this Friday, at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 in Los Angeles and is currently available through Video-On-Demand.
For cast biographies, movie clips and stills, visit www.brotherhoodthemovie.com.