GREENVILLE — A local film student is hoping to make a name for himself in the movie-making world, and, at the same time, raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.
Alexander Stewart, 22, of Greenville, is a film major at Wright State University. He has entered a short video titled “No Reply” in a RODE Microphone international film contest — “My RODE Reel” — billed as “the world’s largest short film competition.”
Stewart started making films in high school, where he says he “fell in love with it and has been doing it for the past six years.” His “No Reply” video features a young man driving and texting his girlfriend, attempting to resolve an argument. His distracted driving leads to tragic consequences.
Videos entered in the contest must be less than three minutes and the filmmaker is required to use at least one RODE microphone. Prizes include film gear and subscriptions to software, stock footage and music places.
“This really is one of the greatest competitions out there because your video gets shown to so many different people that are very talented at what they do,” said Stewart.
Stewart, who directed and produced the short, cited a number of reasons for entering the contest. His first and foremost reason, however, was to address the dangers of distracted driving — in this instance, people texting.
“I hope that it would help raise awareness on texting while driving,” he said. “I wanted to push myself as a filmmaker to create something that I had never attempted before with the car crash sequence. I’ve entered this contest the past three years with my group and this is year is honestly my favorite.”
Stewart received assistance from a number of individuals, including the Darke County Sheriff’s Office.
“Having the Sheriffs Department out to help with the video was amazing,” said Stewart. “I went in and talked with them about the project and told them it was about texting and driving and they dove right in to help with it. The day that we shot with them, I let them direct me. I wanted that sequence to be as real as possible so I let them walk me through what they would have done in the real event of a crash like this.”
He added, “With the help that they provided, I believe we created something that is both realistic but also, hopefully, thought provoking and will make people realize that texting and driving can harm not only you but others around you.”
Sheriff’s deputies participating in the video include Tony Royer and Josh Bolin. Trevor DeSchepper (as “Ryan, the texter”), Ashley Denney (as “the Girlfriend”), and Kalem Denney (as “the Little Girl”) portray the main actors in the video. Michelle Lawrence, Mikaela Sharp, and Mitchell Pence portray EMTs who respond to the scene.
“Mikaela, Mitchell, Sylaris Denney, and Brian Johnston all helped with behind-the-scenes stuff,” Stewart said. “All of these people are local people which was really nice to get people from all over Darke County to help.”
The video has already received positive feedback from those who have seen it.
“The amount of feedback from this video has been amazing,” he said. “Some people that were involved or knew about the project in the early stages and then some parts during filming thought that it may not come out how it did, but we pulled it off.
“I never doubted the people that I worked with and I couldn’t have asked for a better group,” Stewart continued. “Once the video was done a lot of people were blown away by how it came out. I received many messages from people saying that they loved it and that it had made them cry. I just hope that people realize why this video was made. It wasn’t just for entertainment, it was to help raise awareness to something that has killed or harmed way to many people.”
What’s next for the burgeoning filmmaker?
“My work never stops for me,” he said. “I move on to the next project, whatever that may be and I love every minute of it. I am planning on doing a short film on suicide prevention in the coming months, we are in the early stages of pre-production for that and I hope that we can rally the support of the county for that project as well.”
“This is what I want to do with my life, and with the help and support of this community, that dream will one day become reality for me,” he added.
To view Stewart’s video “No Reply” and to cast a vote, go online to www.rode.com/myrodereel/watch/entry/1752 or visit the link posted on Advocate360’s Facebook page. Voting ends June 28.