By Jonas Kramer | Personal editor
A one-on-one assignment for film and digital media students turned into an opportunity for all classes to shoot a movie at the Ferrell Center, with men’s basketball head coach Scott Drew as the main talking point .
Dr. Sarah Jane Murray – a professor at Baylor and an Emmy-nominated screenwriter and producer – currently teaches the Filmmaking for Social Change course. She said she did not foresee this opportunity being offered to her students. She said that during the initial individual assignment, students had to pull their phones.
Middleburg, Va., Harper Leigh senior and Noah Engelhardt senior Tyler are students in Murray’s class. They both said they were considering themes for the short film project and Engelhardt’s honors thesis.
“We were tossing around ideas about stories that hadn’t been fully told on campus yet, really trying to tap into that network of people in Waco or on campus,” Leigh said.
Leigh said Drew comes to mind because whenever she talks to students about why they love her, she notices their answers never include him as the most winning coach in the world. history of Baylor men’s basketball.
“All mentioned that they liked how Coach Drew is a person who prioritizes joy,” Leigh said.
When Leigh and Engelhardt got Baylor Basketball’s approval for a personal interview with Drew, Murray said they weren’t the only enthusiastic students.
“By the time they got to class the following Monday, the whole class wanted to do it as a group project,” Murray said.
Although it’s a far cry from the original project, Murray said she recognizes the benefit of hands-on experience for her students, with a nationally acclaimed subject nonetheless.
According to Murray, the students crafted an angle for the film centered on the following question: what if every student at Baylor, especially the graduating class, could hear the message Drew has for them about how to get the most out of their lives and to ensure that they live a meaningful life?
“That meant setting up a whole unscripted shoot with a much more professional setting than expected,” Murray said. “But [the students] really rose to the challenge, and I’m really proud of them.
Bailey Eubanks, an alumnus of Baylor, owner of video production company Content Co-Op, added to the professional setting of the Oct. 28 interview, Murray said.
Eubanks, a friend and video production colleague of Murray’s, worked alongside the students as cinematographer for the shoot, according to the project’s call sheet.
“Whenever I have a shoot or a job to do in Texas and need a partner, I always think of Bailey,” Murray said. “It is one of the characteristics of people who come out of [film and digital media] here. He is resourceful, technically adept, excellent at pivoting on set [and] caring about students.
Murray said Eubanks mentored students on set in addition to offering career advice during a lunch after filming.
“I had the privilege of working with Bailey previously on set for one of Dr Murray’s films,” Leigh said. “He’s just a dedicated, hard-working professional, and he loves what he does. And it comes to fruition because his work ethic is so supreme.
Engelhardt, the film’s director, said the students were eager to participate in the production and learn from Eubanks.
“Even people who didn’t have clear jobs were asking, ‘What can we do? ‘” Engelhardt said.
Eubanks said he agreed with Engelhardt on the student work ethic.
“Being in the professional world, you want people like that around you, and that’s hard to come by,” Eubanks said. ” It comes from the heart. They want to do it, they want to learn, [and] it was so awesome.
The hard work has just begun for Murray’s Filmmaking for Social Change class, as she said much of the production process is yet to come.
Leigh – who serves as a producer alongside Murray and teaching assistant Courtney Smith – said the class wanted to produce the film “in conjunction with Baylor” in addition to other possible distribution opportunities that arise. However, she said the release date is yet to be determined.
Although the final product is not yet complete, Murray said his students have already gained valuable experience that extends beyond the classroom.
“When people show up on set to deal with something bigger than themselves, that’s when the real magic happens,” Murray said. “It’s not…a movie anymore. It’s about following your calling and finding purpose and meaning.
Leigh echoed Murray’s words and cited a sign on Drew’s desk that symbolized his biggest takeaway.
“It says, ‘You can do anything in life as long as you don’t care who gets the credit,'” Leigh said.
Leigh said the student-led crew showing selflessness during filming is what made it such a great project.