Nearly 18 months ago, Steve Taylor, Lipscomb’s filmmaker-in-residence, wrote and directed Drama Major, a sitcom pilot set in a small town college theater department, that featured Lipscomb students, alumni, professors and friends. On Saturday, April 22, Lipscomb’s George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts premiered the Drama Major sitcom at the Regal Hollywood 27 Theatre as part of the 2017 Nashville Film Festival.
Founded in 1969 as NashFilm, the Nashville Film Festival is the oldest running film festival in the South and amplifies collective and individual awareness by bringing the world to Nashville to celebrate innovation, music and the many voices of the human spirit through the art of film. This year’s festival will be held from April 20-29.
"We're honored to have had our premiere at the Nashville Film Festival," says Taylor. "This is a very ambitious project for a program as new as ours, with a cast and crew comprised primarily of Lipscomb students. It was incredible to show it to an audience and see them laugh along."
Beginning as part of his capstone project for his MFA in film and creative media degree, Taylor created Drama Major after brainstorming the concept with Mike Fernandez, dean of the CEA, on creative direction for the sitcom. Taylor began writing the script in summer 2015.
In July, Lipscomb’s Cinematic Arts program hosted a workshop with Dean
Batali, veteran TV writer and show runner for popular series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and That 70’s Show, for Lipscomb film students to pitch themes, characters and potential story lines for the project as they learned about writing for television.
“Mike Fernandez and I were trying to figure out a project where students could get first hand experience working in a professional environment,” said Taylor. “We’re both big believers in having our cinematic arts program collaborating with theater students, which is why both programs share a space on campus. Every day I get to observe theater students and faculty, and as you might imagine, it’s an environment unlike any other on campus. Which is why it’s an environment begging for a sitcom.”
After Taylor wrote the pilot script last fall, he directed the project with nearly 20 Lipscomb students from within the George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts involved, serving as actors, crew, and even doing editing and visual effects.
Students worked alongside seasoned professionals, including producer Dona Spangler (Stoker), assistant director Korey Pollard (ABC’s Nashville), and lead actresses Marin Miller (Blue Like Jazz) and recent Lipscomb Theatre graduate Lacy Hartselle. Fernandez and Jim Thomas, executive assistant to the President at Lipscomb, also acted in key roles.
Taylor says scenes were filmed in Shamblin Theatre, the Bennett Campus Center, Bison Square and other locations on Lipscomb University’s campus.
“It was quite a ride,” said Taylor. “I’m used to making ambitious movies on a modest budget, but this was ambitious TV on a micro budget. The game-changer was making it at Lipscomb. The enthusiasm of our students and the additional resources provided by the entrepreneurial, ‘can do’ environment that Mike Fernandez has created here at the George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts has made the entire experience thoroughly enjoyable."
For more information on the George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts, visit lipscomb.edu/cea.