Lecturer: Story still central for movie industry

By Candy Rendon

Baylor’s film and digital media department has undergone changes over the years. No longer does the industry revolve solely around 35mm film cameras. The digital age is abundantly present.

With all the conveniences arising for aspiring filmmakers, some believe that the industry has drastically changed.

Senior Lecturer Brian Elliott said the fundamental motives within the field of making movies, however, have remained constant.

“It’s harder to be a filmmaker now,” Elliott said. “Because there is so much stuff floating about, but being able to maintain a focused narrative or documentary follows the same rules that I had when I was still in school.”

Elliott said his journey in finding a career at Baylor’s film and digital media department aptly paints the picture of how times have changed and remained the same for Baylor film students.

Scripts and storyboards are found all over the Internet, and film students can quickly shoot links to their low-budget projects over to big budget directors and production companies via Twitter and Facebook.

“I think it’s great that students can post their works on the Internet and find new and exciting things because of new changes [social networking sites],” Elliott said. “But students need to slow down and work on simple stories.”

He never knew he would be teaching filmmaking techniques to young filmmakers. In all truth, he said he never expected being in film at all.

When Elliott chose Baylor, he was studying religion. It was not until he took an introductory film course with Dr. Michael Korpi, professor of film and digital media, that he fell in love with the field.

Elliott said that students today have the world at their fingertips, and he expressed his admiration for what seems to be a booming student filmmaking community in Texas.

He said students today have clear goals for their film projects during undergraduate studies. Elliott highlighted that this was different than his time as an undergraduate, in which he was unsure as to even which career field to work in.

He worked at a handful of jobs at a children’s psychiatric hospital, a deli, a social services community and a film distribution company until he met with David Franks, a news broadcast producer in Texas.

Franks knew Elliott was interested in the entertainment industry, and he offered Elliott a job at the local Channel 10 television station.

Elliott said he enjoyed the job because he could spend his hours off the clock using the network’s expensive equipment. The job fulfilled his desires to write different stories and create mini-projects, something that he said some students today may take for granted with Microsoft Word on almost every device.

After spending a year and a half with the station, he again met with his previous film and digital media instructors Dr. Corey Carbonara, professor of film and digital media, and Korpi at a local restaurant. The two instructors asked Elliott to come and teach at Baylor where he could receive his MBA and work within the film department.

“It was at that point that I thanked God for knowing my professors,” Elliott said.

Elliott said that students must initiate contact with their teachers just as he did or they will never get their projects and work out into the open.

Elliott strongly suggests that students talk with their professors frequently so that they build up a list of contacts. During this time, the film and digital media department was getting renovated. Carbonara and Korpi were looking for ways to expand Baylor’s communications section.

Carbonara, who worked as the product manager of high-definition systems at Sony Broadcast Products Co., said that students today at Baylor now have access to some of the most advanced filmmaking technology in the world.

“We wanted Baylor to be ahead of the filmmaking curve,” Carbonara said. “We had a great broadcast journalism area when I first started teaching [in 1983], but we wanted to build more specific disciplines.”

Elliott said Carbonara and Korpi are constantly attempting to place Waco ahead of the filmmaking curve. He said, however, that the duo does this while preserving the core concepts of filmmaking, despite ever changing networking mediums such as Vimeo, YouTube and Tumblr.

“This field [film and digital media], Elliott said, “provides a lot of opportunities, however, you have to be really good at it. Therefore, one has to truly immerse his or herself in films.”

Elliott said this will not change over the course of new decades of technology changes and new filmmaking mediums. Instead, opportunities for making a difference as a filmmaker rely on the same principles that held true when he was a student.