By Violeta Trevizo
What began as a casual conversation at Market Street in the fall of 2015 has now become a project Weston Davis and John Hackney hope will be a milestone in filmmaking for other Texas Tech University students like themselves.
“Sam (on Everything)” has gone through many script changes in the past months. The rough draft consists of about 80 pages to date. The project is what Davis described as a cult-indie comedy.
Davis, who has written the entire script, said he is working on the final draft and casting actors at the same time.
“Now it’s at the point where I’ve gone back and am working on the final draft as we are casting,” Davis said. “I think it’ll be a good way to further develop characters because we get the insight of who’ll be playing them as I finish the final draft of the script.”
Davis said the project had been kept under wraps in its initial stages, due to his concerns and uncertainty that it would fully develop.
“We worked in almost secret for a semester,” Davis said. “John started talking to people about the movie, and I would be like ‘Why did you talk to them? We don’t even know if we’re making it!’ I was very careful about our exposure.”
Now that pre-production is well on its way, both have found themselves wrapped up in every aspect of the project. In addition to being full-time electronic media and communications students, they also work and do other film projects on the side.
In spite of the time commitment, Hackney said he enjoys every part of what he is doing.
“You have to decide whether or not you want to do it, and if you want to do it, you have to give up things like sleep and health,” Hackney said.
Davis added he has no free time between school, work, the movie and life as a newlywed, but is very proud of what he is accomplishing through this film.
“Sam (on Everything)” will be the first student-produced, full-length film to come out of Texas Tech. In the College of Media & Communication, the film is expected to create opportunities for similar student projects in the future.
Todd Chambers, associate dean for undergraduate affairs at the CoMC, said the project’s timing is great. he expects it to do well in the community.
“This type of film project represents the growing film culture that’s being cultivated here at Texas Tech and in Lubbock,” Chambers said. “It’s been growing for some time, but now it seems there are a lot of wonderful opportunities for film projects like this to be well-received here at the university and in the arts community here locally.”
Chambers added that he anticipates members of the Lubbock arts community to jump on board, judging by the success of previous projects that have received crowdfunding.
Davis and Hackney have self-funded the project so far, but hope Chambers is right. With film festivals in sight, they will be seeking crowdfunding to cover the costs of pushing the project forward.
Chambers praised the students’ hard work, saying those who have the most responsibilities are generally the ones who make things happen.
“Honestly, the busiest students are the ones who seem to always have something on their plate and always seem to find the most success — both here in classes and once they’ve graduated,” Chambers said. “That being said, I always tell students to make sure and stay on top of their studies.”
To stay on top of the project, Hackney said, he and Davis meet at least once a week. Both are looking forward to having less demanding schedules in the summer, when they plan to begin shooting.
The film will be shot in several Lubbock spots that Davis and Hackney feel will capture the essence of their hometown.
“It’s very cliché at this point to say that it’s very flat around here, but I want to capture the feel of Lubbock and the culture and attitude,” Davis said with a laugh. “Later in life, I can look at it and go ‘Cool, Lubbock’ and feel very Lubbock about it.”
The locality of the film will not be the only thing to feel “very Lubbock.” The students also plan to showcase local musicians and artists — both for a touch of authenticity and as an encouragement for the community to embrace the local arts scene.
“We want this to be a community builder,” Hackney said. “Tech and Lubbock are both trying to push the art scene, which I think is great.”
The student-run project is expected to serve as a career booster for many students, including Davis and Hackney, who expect others to follow in their footsteps.
“We are trying to help build people’s resumes as well as our own,” Hackney said. “My favorite thing about this whole experience is making all of those connections with the passionate people who share my passion for film and filmmaking.”
As the project continues, Davis said he enjoys seeing more people get excited about it because it reaffirms that he can, in fact, finish it. However, he is also aware there will be those who do not like his work and said he is ready for the critics.
In the end, they are not making a movie just to make a movie. Filmmaking is a passion, Davis said, and the project has strengthened their respect for all filmmakers because they have discovered how much time and commitment go into any film.
“If I can make something in the end that I enjoyed watching, then I’m happy,” Davis said.
Editor’s Note: Weston Davis is married to The Hub@TTU’s graduate executive director, Sarah Self-Walbrick.