SMU Film Grad Directs Feature-Length Film, “Elsewhere, TX”

McHenry Taylor works on a short film for one his finals, Tuesday, December 13, 2016 in Umphrey Lee Center. For his engaged learning project, McHenry wrote the script and directed the feature length film “Elsewhere, TX”.
McHenry Taylor works on a short film for one his finals, Tuesday, December 13, 2016 in Umphrey Lee Center. For his engaged learning project, McHenry wrote the script and directed the feature length film “Elsewhere, TX”.

McHenry Taylor graduated from SMU on Dec. 17 with experience few film graduates list on their resumes. He wrote the script and directed a feature-length film, “Elsewhere, TX,” which will debut in May 2017 at SMU.

A film and media arts major, Taylor had written and directed short films for class. But in the summer of 2015 he submitted his “Elsewhere” script to be considered for SMU’s Film and Media Arts department’s summer film production project, a two-year, student-run endeavor. All crew heads working on the film – director, producers, cinematographer, production designer, editor, sound mixer – are current SMU students or recent alumni.The post-apocalyptic western is a cross between Catcher in the Rye, a spaghetti western and a survival film, Taylor says. “I came to SMU knowing I wanted to study film,” Taylor says. “I was determined to take advantage of every opportunity that walked by.”

The summer film project requires that students create a budget, raise money, audition actors and find a location. Filming takes place for two weeks on-location during the summer, with pre-production work completed the year before, and post-production work the year after. “Elsewhere” is in the editing and marketing phase of production.

“The SMU film department is unique in giving students complete control of the 90-minute film,” says Mark Kerins, associate professor of film and media arts, and adviser to the summer film production project. “As mentors and advisers, the faculty tries to protect students from making big mistakes, without hand holding.”

After Taylor submitted his script, he assembled a director/producer team with fellow film majors Trevor Thrall and Natalie Khraish, then applied to direct the film. A committee of film faculty members and Dallas-area film-makers selected Taylor’s script and team, setting in motion script revision, actor auditions, crew head selection and money-raising. As Engaged Learning fellows, Taylor and Khraish also received mentoring and financial support from SMU’s Engaged Learning program.

In June of 2016, Taylor, 15 actors, a crew of 19 students and a high school friend or two descended on the small East Texas town of Nacogdoches for filming. The steamy rural locale set the tone for the story of a gun-slinging stranger and a young boy who navigate the dangers of a post-apocalyptic South, learning much from one another in the process. Co-producer Trevor Thrall, a Nacogdoches native, recruited friends and family to house and feed the crew and actors as well as provide locations for the film. A local television station covered their efforts.

“Making the movie was a thousand trials by fire,” Taylor says. “We worked for 15 straight days in 100-degree heat. The film features a 12-year-old boy who was acting for the first time. Most of our actors were theatre-trained and had never done film before. But in the end, we were a bunch of kids who knew what we wanted to do.”

After Commencement, Taylor will continue to direct “Elsewhere’s” film editing. Then he would like to write and direct sci-fi films.

Read more about “Elsewhere, TX” 

Why SMU Meadows? Six Questions for Students

Sasha Davis, B.F.A. Theatre/ Theatre Studies ’16
Sasha Davis, B.F.A. Theatre/ Theatre Studies ’16

Hear five students talk about their choices, majors, internships and more

“… Totally got my world flipped … We think you can do great things … Ability to double major …” are just some of the comments shared by five performing and visual arts majors on why they picked SMU Meadows as their college of choice. They were also accepted to such schools as Carnegie Mellon, Berkeley, UCLA, University of Rochester, Indiana University, University of Minnesota, University of Texas-Austin, Florida State University, Marymount Manhattan, The Hartt School, Santa Clara University, Pomona College, University of Nevada/Las Vegas, Texas Christian University and more. Find out why they chose SMU:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrW907QKBOI[/youtube]

Watch: SMU Meadows Double-Major Cayla Simpson’s Spring Dance Concert Preview

The concert opens with Appalachian Spring, one of Martha Graham’s signature works. Written at the end of World War II, it is a depiction of Americana.
The concert opens with Appalachian Spring, one of Martha Graham’s signature works. Written at the end of World War II, it is a depiction of Americana.

The world premiere of a new interpretation of Stravinsky’s The Firebird highlights the Spring Dance Concert at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, March 31-April 3. The concert opens with Appalachian Spring, one of Martha Graham’s signature works. Written at the end of World War II, it is a depiction of Americana. The story tells of a spring celebration set in 19th-century Pennsylvania as a young bride arrives in her new home.

The program continues with Tschaikovsky’s Pas de Deux, an eight-minute display of ballet bravura and technique set to music that Tchaikovsky belatedly created in 1877 for Act III of Swan Lake.

The night promises to be equal parts visual poetry and choreographic expression. SMU Meadows student Cayla Simpson, a double major in Dance and Film, made this can’t-miss preview of the groundbreaking concert. Here’s the full video:

[youtube width=”853″ height=”420″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cx-Fv4AKf4[/youtube]

The Spring Dance Concert takes place in the Bob Hope Theatre in the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. Performance times are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $13 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7 for students, SMU faculty and staff. Free parking is available at Hillcrest and Binkley or in the garage under the Meadows Museum. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 214-768-2787.