Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Screen directing class brings short films to life


“My first script that I wrote was also a psychological thriller that was kind of like ‘The Shining’-esque and this was the closest one to it that was more well developed,” said Meyer, a senior 
majoring in telecommunication and film. “I don’t necessarily like all of my own stuff that I write, and I feel 
comfortable like going through and producing it, so once I saw a good script that I didn’t write, but I knew I could direct, that’s probably what drew me 
to this.”

The TCF 412 class is called Screen Directing. Each semester, the students in the class bring in scripts they’ve written and vote on the best ones. Their instructor, Maya Champion, splits them into crews based on their interests. Some of the students are directors of photography, some work on sound or editing and some are the directors.

Champion then matches each 
production up with a student from her producing class, TCF 438. Together the teams workshop their scripts and use crowdfunding to raise money for actors, sets, props and film festival entry fees. They then shoot their films, each production at a different time so students can help out on multiple 
short productions.

“You don’t really know how to 
necessarily do that unless you’ve done it before,” Champion said. “The shot lists and the shooting and the directing, that kind of thing. We do some of that in class but they come from classes where they understand that, so we practice and then I kind of let them do what they want to do. I start it and then let them creatively do what they want to do and then help fill in any holes.”

Class time is spent workshopping scripts, discussing visual inspirations and testing out scenes with actors the students bring in.

Meyer fulfilled all the production requirements for his major sophomore year. He took this class, he said, to 
add to his reel of work. He has a 
cinematography reel and a 
producing reel but wanted to 
showcase his directing skills as well.

“It’s pretty crazy to actally
see what I was reading about that 
was a vision my head, like when you read a book, actually come alive,” Meyer said.

For Meyer, one of the most rewarding parts of the class was realizing his influence, not just on the film, but on the cast and crew as well.

“The little things you do as a 
director that you don’t even notice have a bigger effect on people than you 
realize,” he said.

Caiti Lumpkin, a senior majoring in communication studies and TCF, worked closely with her 
scriptwriter and fellow classmate, Reagan Wells, a sophomore majoring in TCF, to make sure the story was 
part her vision as director and part his as the writer. Their film, “Night Light” tells the story of a young boy as he 
tries to overcome his fear of a 
monster he saw on a television show.

“I did realize going through this 
process that my strengths are 
definitely communication and like being able to interact with the actors and get their emotions across because that’s kind of how I’ve always related to films I’ve enjoyed,” Lumpkin said. “It’s more about the characters and how I relate to them rather than like awesome stuff or the awesome skillful cinematography.”

The goal is to enter the films into festivals to get the students’ names out there in the industry, Champion said. One component is making sure the paperwork is filled out correctly for each film. From liability forms to set releases, the students in Champion’s producing class help keep up with that as well as managing budgets and making sure everyone is doing their assigned tasks.

“Putting it together, it’s just like a big puzzle,” said Dylan Scott, a senior majoring in TCF and a producer on two of the films being directed this 
semester. “You start with all these 
scattered pieces and you have to put together and get that final product… It doesn’t just happen overnight.”

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