With Olympic College’s recent addition of a film school, the local movie scene is beginning to grow, allowing those interested to gain hands-on experience at a much cheaper cost compared with places like Los Angeles.
“You get as much information from people who have worked in the industry…and don’t have to sell your soul to get it,” OC film student R.S. Powell said. “The other cool thing about the program is they put a camera in your hand right at the beginning. Some film schools, it’ll be two years before you even touch a camera.”
Powell, 48, is in his fourth and final year and will receive his bachelor’s degree in June. One of his final tasks is to make a 15-minute thesis film with the hope of entering it into some film festivals to get some notoriety.
Powell chose to direct, write, produce and edit his film called “Ghost In The Graveyard,” which was shot at places like the Buena Vista Cemetery in Port Gamble and My Girl Drive-In in Kingston, along with Powell’s home in Suquamish.
While horror films tend to be the most-made genre, Powell said he’s trying to put his own spin on the short film, dealing with deeper issues like growing up and trying to make the right choices in life. The film centers around teenagers hanging out at a graveyard at night.
“The difference with mine is normally in a teenage horror film you have kids dealing with adult-type of issues,” Powell said. “With this film, I’m trying to focus on the idea of teens kind of swaying both ways.
“They’re out in the graveyard, they’re drinking, they’re playing childhood games. When you’re a teenager, you’re still kind of a kid, and you’re dealing with the idea of growing up in society. But you’re also craving to be an adult.
“When dealing with those kinds of things, you tend to sometimes make the wrong choices. My movie kind of deals with karma and trauma of making the wrong choices. My logline for the film is, ‘By confronting what we regret in life we can escape our fate.’”
Powell described the film as a “sci-fi Breakfast Club. You get these relationships with people, and they’re kind of thrown in together. Their lives parallel each other and relate.”
The budget was about $20,000, which Powell pretty much covered himself. He said he’s already made a few short films for the college the last few years and has acted in other students’ films. Before that, he wrote, directed and acted in theater for a long time.
The reason the college pushes for only 15-minute films is because the goal is to get them picked up by film festivals, which tend to want short films so they can showcase a number of them, Powell said.
“I seriously doubt if I’m going to get into Cannes (the famous film festival in France) or something like that but there are a number of horror film festivals,” he said, adding horror films are the most marketable. “When you do a thesis film, it’s more of a calling card. You’re not out to make a bunch of money… With this one, I’m planning on putting it in an anthology so eventually, it can move to a feature film.”
Once filming is done, Powell said he will start editing to have it ready by June. After entering it in some film festivals, he will release it on YouTube. After that, he’s going to mix it in with a couple other projects for an anthology series.
The film crew consists of about 20 people. Six are main characters, three are supporting and the rest is behind the scenes crew. Four are OC film students, six are former students, and the rest are locals.
Powell was grateful for Bob Tompson, owner of My Girl Drive-In, and Peter Orbea of Port Gamble for letting him use those spots for filming. Having the drive-in featured was something Thompson always dreamed about.
“They’ve been totally supportive and into me doing this film,” Powell said of Thompson and Orbea. “We actually shot a drug-deal scene under the (Port Gamble) water tower there. We shot it at night and had two cars shooting headlights through it.”