By Ryan Horton
Adam Bass has used film to help students learn many academic and life lessons throughout the years, and now this Choctaw High School teacher hopes to lead by example and inspire others to follow their dreams.
Bass has produced and filmed a variety of short productions during his 18 years as an educator, but now he’s ready to complete a full-length feature film.
The timing and people have just come together as a teaching career led to Choctaw, said Bass.
“This has been my passion outside of teaching and coaching for a long time, and now with me being around a lot of talent here in Choctaw things have just clicked,” said Bass.
Under the direction of Maryjane Burton, Choctaw’s theatre department has become the school’s most awarded program, and also the most successful high school Drama and Stage Craft program in the state.
Burton, who led CHS to its fourth straight and 10th overall One-Act Play State Championship as well as plenty of other accolades earlier this year, was recently named the 2015 Oklahoma Speech, Drama and Theatre Educator of the Year.
“When I first came to Choctaw and I saw the things Maryjane Burton had been doing as far as the acting side of things it just became natural for me to want to combine our talents,” said Bass.
And combining talents is the objective with plenty of locals joining the cast and crew of the upcoming film.
“There’s a lot of Choctaw alumni acting in the film and working on the crew. This is mainly an alumni project, and not really connected with the high school,” said Bass. “Choctaw’s own Maryjane Burton as well as many other locals, who have had great success on the stage, will be making their film debut.”
After working up several movie scripts in a variety of genres over the years Bass settled on a horror flick titled “Reel Dead” for his first major project.
“I think this will play to the horror fans, and also people who like suspense and twists along the way,” said Bass. “When you’re in film school you have to do a senior capstone project. So there’s a group of college kids setting out to make a horror film, and it turns real on them. I’ll have some twists and turns along the way, but that’s the premise of the story. We really want to have the flavor of the 80’s thriller film, and we can do that because the characters are setting out to shoot a horror film set in the 1980s.”
Most of the film’s budget will go toward providing a unique sound experience regarding audio effects and the musical score, but viewers can also expect high-quality visuals for a horror film, said Bass.
“Dr. Ryan Bracket is a great cinematographer for someone who just dabbles in it. I sent him the script, and he jumped on board as the director of photography. My other movie making partner is Adam Carr, from Bridge Creek, who is a third generation photographer. They know when things sound and look good so between the two of them we should be set,” said Bass. “Jonathan Koelsch is an accomplished illustrator, and he has contributed to some designs that will give our film a unique look. Also, our prop guy will be making some custom weapons that will really make this film different.”
The talent is ready to begin filming, but Bass hopes to find some supporters before the process begins. With an expected production cost of around $20,000 the price of the project is steep for a high school teacher.
“I have a lot of people doing deferred payments which helps out, but we’re looking at a budget of around $20,000 as a goal. This will be partially funded by me, and hopefully mostly funded by crowd funding and local sponsorships,” said Bass. “My biggest goal is to get to as many venues as possible. We’ll probably go the festival route and try to win some awards, which always helps your film. If we can’t get any local theatrical releases or anything like that we plan to have it available on demand to get it out there for viewers. I have several other scripts I’d like to turn into films so hopefully this goes well.”
Bass has setup a crowd funding page, where those interested in the film can find more information or contribute to the process, at www.indiegogo.com/projects/reel-dead