Burgess Jenkins, famous for playing Ray Budds in Disney's 2000 film "Remember the Titans," is one of many crew members involved with "Find a Way," a Cornelius Muller Productions feature that is filming on various parts of Elon's campus.
The movie is inspired by the life of Harry Cohen, a student and quarterback at Walter M. Williams High School in Burlington who passed away in August, right before his senior season began.
A number of Elon students are becoming part of the production as well.
Among those students is sophomore cinema major Andrew Riley, who is serving as the line producer. He is responsible for the equipment on set and making sure everything runs smoothly.
“I’m kind of the supervisor for the set,” Riley said. “I am the mechanic for the film machine, and my job is to make sure that everything is working well and operating smoothly for the driver, (also known as) the director.”
Jenkins, who is directing the film, said he has been impressed with the caliber of work Elon students are contributing to the film’s production.
“The level of work and dedication is terrific,” Jenkins said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, worked with crews of all sizes and budget levels. There’s a great sense of dedication, but these are people that want to make movies.”
Not only is the production using Elon students as crew members, but it is also utilizing some of the university’s resources. Filming took place in Whitley Auditorium Feb. 19, and will continue with a football scene in Rhodes Stadium Feb. 25.
Writer-actor-executive producer Cornelius Muller, an Elon graduate from the Class of '93, said he is particularly excited about coming back to campus to shoot scenes.
“The production quality — it’s a beautiful place to shoot,” Muller said. “The equipment — state-of-the-art. It’s a no-brainer. Them giving back to me and me giving back to them, them allowing me at this point to still represent the university. That’s been one of the best blessings about the whole deal, me being back on campus and getting back in the Elon culture.”
Riley, who shot a behind-the-scenes documentary last year about “Brother’s Keeper,” Cornelius Muller Productions’ last film, said he is enjoying the experience.
“It’s invaluable to be able to get experience on set with people who have learned from the real guys, and here I am learning from them,” Riley said. “It’s a golden opportunity for me to really understand how a set works in and out and see how those people run the sets. It’s excellent.”
Senior cinema major Sam Chambers got involved in the project when Riley asked her to do something she had never done for a film before.
“They were hurting for a costuming director,” Chambers said. “I’m now doing costuming and makeup. He called me the day before shooting actually and said, ‘Hey, we need a costume director. Would you be interested?’ I said, ‘Sure, when do I start?’ He said, ‘Tomorrow.’”
Chambers said she is really enjoying the small-budget aspect of “Find a Way.”
“I like the fact that it’s a professional film crew, but it’s still a small enough production that I feel like I can go up and talk to the (director of photography) and he and I can talk about my costuming choices versus his cinematography choices,” she said. “It’s nice because it’s small and we can still all work together. I feel like on a bigger set, that wouldn’t happen. I wouldn’t have all those direct lines of communication. Working on the set has been good.”
Riley noted the importance of making contacts in the film industry, where he said he hopes to make his career.
“It’s pretty exciting because I never thought I’d be working on a feature film on campus or even around Burlington,” Riley said. “I always thought that I’d be doing personal small projects on my own. This opportunity came along and it’s just completely opened the door to everything because now I have the first job. And that means I can go out and get the second job with recommendations and credentials. It’s all about getting your foot in the door"