By Sarah Carlson, Arts Editor
During Christmas break, Denton Josey found himself volunteering to climb down a 60-foot ladder into the pits of a 180-foot missile silo in Lawn.
Josey, junior journalism major from Orlando, Fla., paddled around in a raft, clearing debris from the dank water and trying not to think about what lay beneath the surface.
“I’m kind of adventurous, and reading the script all day got boring,” said Josey, assistant director on the independent film that was shot in the silo during the Christmas break.
He landed the job of AD after writing an Optimist news story in November about an open casting call for the film, which currently has no working title and is directed by former student Cary Roberts. Roberts’s production company, Mandatory Chapel Inc., is based in Austin.
Michael Breeden, junior electronic media major from Memphis, Tenn., served as production sound recordist on the film, which he described as a supernatural thriller.
Shot in about a week, the film follows five men who break into an underground missile silo. What happens next is being kept under wraps while the film is in postproduction and editing phases.
Breeden said Roberts wants to put the film on an independent film circuit in hopes of having it picked up by a production company.
Matt Maxwell, junior electronic media major from Abilene, tapped Breeden to handle sound on the film, and Breeden said the experience was invaluable.
“It was a great learning experience for me,” Breeden said. “It was the first time I’ve been on a real independent film set, seeing how everything works and how everyone interacts.”
Working in a missile silo was quite the experience, Maxwell said.
“It was really scary,” he said. “You never knew who was around the corner.”
The film’s small crew grew close during the production, spending from dusk to dawn underground in the silo, he said, and even learned to feel comfortable in the dark, underground setting.
“The funny thing was that as the production went on, it felt kind of homey,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell said Roberts had contacted Adam Hester, chair of the Theatre Department, about local talent, and Hester pointed Roberts his direction. At first he served as a production assistant, helping communicate with Abilene crewmembers while Roberts worked in Austin. He then thought he’d serve as a camera assistant, but a week before shooting began, he said Roberts chose him as director of photography.
Josey said working on the film gave him insight into the art of filmmaking and has made him more appreciative of films he sees, as well as more critical.
“It’s something I would like to do on the side,” he said, “but for now, I have some amazing plans for my future that don’t involve film.”
Maxwell enjoyed his time on the film and though it was tedious at the time, he now misses the experience of filmmaking. He said he gained an appreciation for the craft after seeing how every crewmember’s job played a vital role in the process of filmmaking.
“I guess it’s everyone’s dream, really, to work on movies,” Maxwell said. “Whether or not it’s my dream, I don’t know. I wish we were filming again – it was so much fun. We’ll see where I end up.”