It’s lights, cam­era, ac­tion for Re­gent film stu­dents

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Local News - By Lee Tol­liver Staff writer

NOR­FOLK — Ty Sheetz re­mem­bers when his life came into fo­cus. He was 8 and had watched “The Lord of the Rings” for the first time.

Im­me­di­ately, he start­ing mak­ing his own films.

This week, Sheetz and a group of stu­dents from Re­gent Uni­ver­sity were leap-frog­ging around Nor­folk pro­duc­ing a short film called “The Har­mon­ica Man.” The story is sim­ple: A home­less har­mon­ica player meets a 10-year-old or­phan and the two de­velop a fa­ther­daugh­ter re­la­tion­ship in an ef­fort to help find good in the world.

North Carolina-based ac­tors Chris Korkalo and Hava Flores play the lead roles. Sheetz is the direc­tor.

“This is what I’ve al­ways wanted to do,” said Sheetz, a se­nior from Me­chan­ics­burg, Pa. “I’ve been mak­ing lit­tle projects since I was 8. But things didn’t re­ally start hap­pen­ing un­til I came to Re­gent and en­tered the pro­gram.”

The lat­est short film is one of two En­dow­ment Films the stu­dents pro­duce each year. Af­ter putting to­gether dozens of short films through­out the year, the best pro­duc­ers, direc­tors, screen­play writ­ers and cin­e­mat- og­ra­phers are se­lected to work on a project with a bud­get of be­tween $12,000 and $15,000.

“That’s why we call them en­dow films,” said pro­ducer Tif­fany Tay­lor, a grad­u­ate stu­dent in the pro­gram. “This is the big­gest en­dow film we’ve ever done. We’ve got a crew of 40, all stu­dents, and two in­struc­tors. We’ve hired real ac­tors for the lead roles.”

“The Har­mon­ica Man” is ex­pected to be com­pleted by Fe­bru­ary for Re­gent’s film show­case in the spring.

The uni­ver­sity’s film pro­gram has won 448 na­tional and in­ter­na­tional awards. Sheetz has two short pro­duc­tions on the film fes­ti­val cir­cuit. He said he’s en­tered seven short-film fes­ti­vals and won best direc­tor in all of them.

“I can’t take all the credit, trust me,” he said. “Th­ese are team ef­forts in ev­ery sense of the word. You see how many stu­dents are out here work­ing on this one, and it takes ev­ery sin­gle per­son to make it hap­pen.

“And the school and pro­fes­sors de­serve a ton of credit.”

“The Har­mon­ica Man” took seven months of prepa­ra­tion prior to this week’s seven days of film­ing. But as­sis­tant pro­ducer Jar­rett Ksi­azek said it will be the cul­mi­na­tion of years of wait­ing.

“I’ve been sit­ting on this project for five years,” said Ksi­azek, who wrote the screen­play. “I wrote it when I was 17 and did it in two days. I was never sure if it would ever be made into a film and I’m so blessed that they’re giv­ing it a chance. This is a real honor.”

Crew mem­bers say the work at Re­gent is pre­par­ing them for their fu­ture, and they un­der­stand that award-win­ning shorts are a good way to be no­ticed by big­ger film com­pa­nies.

“Th­ese things also help bring more aware­ness to the pro­gram,” said Derek Yancey, direc­tor of pho­tog­ra­phy for this pro­duc­tion. “We put out about 50 short films a year, but this is by far the big­gest un­der­tak­ing and can bring the most re­ward for the pro­gram and for all of us.

“A lot of im­por­tant peo­ple see th­ese films.” Tol­liver can be reached by phone at 757-222-5844.

“The Har­mon­ica Man” is about a home­less har­mon­ica player who meets a 10-year-old or­phan.

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