When four Hollywood film producers, including UT alumus Matt Milam, visited UT in October, the event highlighted a marked change in Knoxville film culture.
This progression toward higher appreciation and creation of movies is reflected on UT's campus as film students complete their final projects and become more knowledgeable about what it takes to create entertaining films.
Film has become a considerable part of Knoxville culture, giving students numerous opportunities and inspiration to write, direct and edit their own short films and mini series. With the 4D arts program and cinema studies courses, students are able to learn these methods and utilize them for their final film projects.
Paul Harrill, associate professor in the School of Art, teaches courses that include the essential techniques of film production. With his extensive background in film as a writer and director, he said he is able to teach his students the knowledge he has gained through his work.
"In my narrative film class, the students start off writing screenplays," Harrill said. " Then, we work on the essentials of directing which are: where to put the camera, how to guide performance with the actors and how to tell a story."
Ben Murphy, junior in journalism and electronic media, is in Harrill's narrative film class and is currently working on his final project.
"I started making movies when I was young on my VHS recorder," Murphy said. "I have always loved watching movies and became interested in making entertaining stories."
Murphy said his passion for making movies comes forward in his filmmaking process as he collaborates with others who want to bring a story to life.
"It all starts with a great story or idea," Murphy said. "You need to bring in passionate people to help you shoot the project. For me, all that matters is that the people I bring in are having fun and enjoying what they are creating."
Andrew Dudenbostel, junior in English, said he also understands what it takes to fulfill his creative vision.
"There's always things that have to be done, including running auditions, scouting locations, setting up schedules, rehearsing with actors and setting up lighting," Dudenbostel said. "It takes a lot of people to make a film, just to handle the workload.
"Working on a film, you get to work with all sorts of talented people, and you all work together to make this piece of art and fulfill this collective creative vision," Dudenbostel added. "While it is often incredibly stressful to make films, the payoff is tremendous."
These filmmakers are able to extend their work beyond UT's classrooms as Knoxville offers a variety of film festivals, including the Knoxville Film Fest, the Knoxville Horror Film Fest and the Knoxville 24-Hour Film Fest.
"As for the film culture in Knoxville, it's an exciting time to be here," Dudenbostel said. "The film scene is still in its youth, but with all the film students and independent filmmakers, it is really inspiring to be around."
The University Undergraduate Council recently approved a Cinema Studies major that will go into effect next fall. There are numerous student groups involving film on campus, including the UT Film Committee and the Society of Media Arts.