As most students presented research at the 2021 Piedmont Symposium, a group of mass communications students presented something different: outlining a horror story in the Swanson Center Newsroom. The session, “Piedmont Film Productions,” featured a panel discussion with five students working on a short horror film, “Overtime.”
“We wanted to make something good and we put a lot of hours into this project,” said junior Tyler Goins. “We spent over 20 hours on the project so far and an additional 12 hours editing the trailer. The full movie should be released in about two weeks and we hope Piedmont University will offer more opportunities to delve deeper into film.”
A synopsis of the film was given with no spoilers. In Overtime, a journalist reluctantly takes the night shift. Only one other person has ever worked in the newsroom at night, where something sinister happened and now something strange is going on. The trailer, which is available on YouTube and the Piedmont App, is just over a minute long and it stars theatre major Johnny Goodwyn, known as Seven around campus. Connor Creedon, sophomore sports communications major, served as talent scout and casting director.
“My role was to find an actor who had the time to film at [night]. This was challenging because this is a large portion of time to devote at the end of the day and we needed an actor who could do it for 4 days straight,” said Creedon. “We were lucky to get Seven, I had seen him in some theatre productions and knew he was good, but he was so good.”
The crew filmed at night which also posed problems, as they needed an empty building to shoot in. There were times that students would be in the Swanson Center studying and the team would have to wait. Emma Marti, sophomore mass communications major recalls how she stumbled upon the filming.
“I was in the Swanson Center to prepare for my next radio show, and I went to the bathroom,” said Marti. “I saw this guy just standing in the shadows, who I now know was Aaron Palmer. I was so freaked out because I had just gone ghost hunting with friends in Swanson a few weeks ago. It was great to see, once I knew they were filming a movie. They were so excited and passionate about it.”
The film was produced by Palmer, Creedon, Goins, Caleb Rogers and Christopher Barker as part of their Entertainment TV class, taught by Melissa Jackson, associate professor of mass communications.
“The student short “Overtime” was developed in class, but the five students spent many hours outside class time filming at night,” said Jackson. “I’m knocked out by the trailer!” I can’t wait to see their final cut.”
Jackson, and Mass Communications Department Chair Dr. Joe Dennis, are spearheading an effort to develop a film major at Piedmont University, to develop the skills of future directors, videographers, editors and screenwriters with a possible film production major, positioning students for jobs in Georgia’s multi-billion-dollar industry.
“Georgia is known as the Hollywood of the South,” Jackson said. “We’d like to establish our own ‘Hollywood at Piedmont University’.”