AT AGE 11,
BUCKNER COOKE ('96) AND TWO FRIENDS had already created short films
with an 8 millimeter camera.
called ourselves BRC Buckner, Randy and Charlie Productions,
didnt think he could become a professional filmmaker. He entered
UNT to study history and political science.
first semester, however, he noticed the Department of Radio, Television
and Films listings in the course catalog.
weekend, I drove home and told my parents I was changing my major,
he says. I thought Id have to go to NYU or UCLA to go
to a good film school. Now I honestly believe UNT has one of the
better film schools in the country.
He now owns
Red Frame Productions in Austin. In the past two years, the company
has produced short documentaries on Texas bands and musicians as
well as one about the Broken Spoke, Austins oldest country
and western club. Cooke also created a documentary about a Vietnam
War veteran, using actual film shot by the soldier during the war.
the only alumnus who didnt expect to make a living through
Reeves (l) & Pete Wagstaff (r)
(86) was a real estate major. Pete Wagstaff (94) earned
a degree in music theory and is now working on a masters degree
in communication studies.
films as a respite from classes. During his freshman year, Mayes
wrote The Fallen Angel, an action drama about a man trying
to leave a gang.
started writing scripts when I was in junior high. I thought the
movies that Hollywood produced were bad and I could do better,
says Mayes, now owner of Suave Productions in Las Colinas.
But at UNT,
Mayes had no budget and little equipment for a film. He received
encouragement and help from his brothers in Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity,
particularly Alan Klenk (85), the fraternitys president,
and Vaughan Garrett (86), Mayes suitemate in Kerr Hall.
Klenk helped with the movies script, and Garrett, now owner
of Sight and Sound Productions in Dallas, shot the film and contributed
to the soundtrack.
received permission to use the Department of Radio, Television and
Films editing facilities and sound stages.
the NT Daily did a story about us, and before we knew it,
we had 200 people working on the movie, including almost the entire
fraternity, he says.
directed The Reluctant Hitman after he met Keith Reeves (98),
who would become the films producer, in a film production
class in 1996.
been an artist all my life and wanted to do something creative,
Wagstaff says. A light came out of the sky and said, Go
be a filmmaker. I took film courses with the intention of
earning a second bachelors or a masters degree.
behind the camera
Hitman focuses on a man mistaken for an assassin. The dark comedy
has been shown at the Ridglea Theater in Fort Worth, the Studio
Movie Grill in Plano and at UNT. It was released on video in July
through Dreamcatcher Entertainment.
the crew had to learn on the job.
of our challenges was finding enough money for expenses. Pete even
sold his musical instruments, he says.
100 people, including professional actors, eventually worked on
the film, Reeves and Wagstaff both took on many jobs in addition
to producer and director.
we were on location in Albuquerque, I cooked the food. We couldnt
afford a caterer, Reeves says.
He and Wagstaff
also became extras in the film.
sound guy was also an extra. He was sitting on a bench reading a
newspaper, and the newspaper hid the microphone, Wagstaff
by Mark Brown
(85), assistant director of operations for OMM Productions
in Dallas, has also improvised many times during a shoot. Producing
documentaries for the Salvation Army, she has traveled to Russia,
India, Zimbabwe, Japan and Honduras, among other countries.
governments prevented Quandt-Guerra and her crew from bringing their
Betacam equipment into some countries.
had to buy a small digital camera and go in as tourists, she
electricity is often a problem.
blown fuses and had to go to the state TV stations and beg for more,
to a location can be a big problem, too. In Honduras, we shot footage
of families impacted by Hurricane Mitch, and it took hours over
washed-out roads to get to the villages.
who has won several awards for her work, says she always wanted
to produce documentaries instead of feature films.
how the Salvation Army is helping people throughout the world and
capturing that on video is rewarding, she says. It feels
like Im making a difference.
taking Ben Levins documentary classes in the Department of
Radio, Television and Film made him think less about becoming like
another Martin Scorsese or Robert Altman.
documentary has a little more social value than a feature film,
and it doesnt take as many people to create one, he
(90 M.A.) also appreciates the social value of documentary
films. She created and directed Flirting With Power, an 88-minute
film that follows Ross Perots presidential campaign staff
from the start of his campaign in 1992 through the start of the
Reform Party and presidential election in 1996.
people with no political experience dont land key campaign
jobs, but this was different, Streit says.
was a moment in time to tell a great story and see how our nations
political process really works.
a production company, Just Right Productions, during the shooting.
her crew received access to areas often restricted to the press,
and Perot allowed her to use his personal videotape archives.
at this years Dallas Video Festival, Flirting With Power
has also been shown on high school and college campuses. It will
be shown at UNT in October.
the film has received support from the Reform Party, despite not
always painting a flattering picture of Perot. Not a member of the
party, she was nonetheless chosen to speak at last years national
filmmakers say the contacts they made as students benefited their
completed a student internship at OMM Productions before being hired
internship made all the difference, she says. In addition,
my UNT classes were unconventional, and that was good the
professors expected us to go beyond book learning.
his professors inspired him, and older students in the department
into the documentary film workshop and directing a film were my
goals at UNT. Im very proud I did both, he says. I
developed myself both as a filmmaker and an individual.
and Reeves are beginning a new film about musicians. Although still
working day jobs, they hope to become full-time independent filmmakers.
have stories to tell that mean something to me, Reeves says.
hed sell houses after graduation. That changed when Phyllis
Diller called. The comedienne had seen The Fallen Angel and asked
Mayes to assist her with a TV series pilot. He worked with other
Hollywood celebrities for three years before returning to Texas.
His latest project is www.popculturetoday.com,
a television series and a web site about pop culture
was very conducive to creativity, and I thrived on it, he