In April 2011 Kent State’s first feature film “Breaking News” won honorable mention in the Narrative Video Category at the Broadcast Educators Association’s 2011 Festival King Foundation Awards Ceremony. The film project was supervised by The School of Journalism and Mass Communication Lecturer Traci E. Williams and Associate Professor David Smeltzer.
Kelly Thewlis is an Electronic Media Production major at Kent State University. During her time at Kent State University, Thewlis worked as a fashion reporter for “Kent Focus,” became a member of the Portage County Players improvisational group, worked on the video short “We Are LeBron,” attended production workshops in Cleveland, Ohio and Los Angeles, California, and continued to produce her own video projects. Thewlis has also been involved with Teleproductions at Kent State University, which allowed her to expand her skills. During her 4 years there, she wrote, crewed, and edited a variety of documentaries, commercials, TV shows and educational videos.
Thewlis says that these experiences helped prepare her for the greatest challenge she has ever had, directing “Breaking News.” “Breaking News” is the first full-length film she has ever directed, and it proved to be an amazing experience that she is truly grateful for receiving. She cannot say enough about the wonderful cast and crew she had the privilege to work with.
Key Production Assistant
Alex DeCourville says even though he is a production assistant on “Breaking News,” he has big dreams for his future. Aside from producing his own films, DeCourville writes his own movies and has written 31 episodes for an original TV show. DeCourville has also worked on several films prior to working on “Breaking News,” and written nine articles for Helium.com. The self-proclaimed “man of 1,000 voices” is also a master impressionist often impressing friends with precise impressions of celebrities and colleagues. In his spare time, DeCourville reads, collects retro video games and plays drums.
Director of Photography
Dustin Lee graduated from Kent State University in 2007, with a degree in Electronic Media Production. Currently he is working for the university developing video content for the communications & marketing department. Although he is enjoying his professional career so far, Dustin’s true passion lies in creative filmmaking. Lee has directed, shot and edited numerous short films and skits, including, “Another Life” (2007), a surrealist drama that was shot in and around the Kent, Ohio area. He cites his visual style comes from several influences including, including Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, David Fincher, and Terrence Malick. His favorite films include Star Wars, Back to the Future, The Thin Red Line, and ET.
1st Assistant Camera
Devin McCallion is an Electronic Media Production major at Kent State University. Film means the world to McCallion. McCallion received praise on his very first video production. He worked as the First Assistant Camera operator on “Breaking News.”
McCallion has worn wear many hats while working on “Breaking News,” acting as Key Grip, Best Boy Electrician, assisting the Director of Photography and managed to fit in some screen time by participating in one of the fight scenes.
McCallion has written, shot and edited two music videos for a future production, written a script for a feature film as well as promotional videos for local entertainment businesses.
McCallion has a passion for film and is determined to make a career for himself in Los Angeles, California one day after he graduates.
Garrison Ebie graduated from Kent State University in 2010, with a degree in Electronic Media Production and a minor in Political Science. Ebie likes to write editorials that no one reads and make short films. It might seem ironic that Ebie is interested in film when he does not watch many movies, yet he refutes that this helps create a degree of objectivity.
In his spare time, he writes songs, reads and rides a bicycle wherever the long road takes him.
Michael Beaumont graduated Summa Cum Laude, from Kent State University in 2010, with a degree in Electronic Media Production. Michael is also a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the National Honor Society in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Beaumont has always had a love for music and recently found success playing guitar and bass in his metal band Break Out the Shotguns.
Beaumont’s hopes for the future include producing documentaries and running his own production company, In a Sense Media Productions.
Still Photographer & Assistant Location Manager
Drew Thompson is a Photojournalism major at Kent State University.
Thompson fell in love with cinema at age two, after his first trip to the movies. Since then, he has embarked on a journey of discovery and knowledge that he hopes will lead him into the heart of the motion picture industry as a cinematographer, editor, writer and director.
Originally from Louisiana, Thompson has moved around quite a bit. He served as his High School’s Drum Major, earning the prestigious John Phillip Sousa award.
He says that his time on “Breaking News” has been challenging but taught him “a lot of practical information.”
He plans to work as a photographer after he graduates and would eventually like to attend film school.
Michael “Big Stove” Stover
Audio & 2nd Assistant Editor
Michael Stover is a Communications major at Kent State University.
Stover gained a passion for Hip Hop music after he graduated high school. Inspiration for writing his own music came from his late cousin Rayshon Ford. Once Stover’s creativity began to blossom, he connected with several other musicians and formed the group Therl Bread. The group has performed at many clubs and fesitvals around Cleveland, Ohio and in Windsor, Canada.
Stover continues to balance his music career and his studies, while occasionally performing solo on the Kent State campus.
Adreyan Martin is a Biology major at Akron University. Martin considers himself an all around artist. He has interests in drawing, music, graphics, performance and production. Martin performs Traditional African Arts with Omo Iroko Drum and Dance Society, Hip Hop with Da Legence Group, musical percussion with the Heartbeats, renowned tap dancer Elec Simon and STOMP. He creates original beats for Hip Hop, Rock, Alternative, Soul and R&B music. Martin has also written original music for other artists as well.
Martins enjoys extreme sports, entertainment, science, arts, computers (software, and hardware), politics and going green.
Anthony “Spyder” Jones
“Spyder” Jones is definitely a character or three! His style of sarcasm and one-liners can, and will leave you uplifted due to his natural ability to be himself no matter where he is. The up and coming comedian is starting to make head way in the entertainment business.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio and raised between Cincinnati and Atlanta, Georgia, he has been involved in the entertainment business since he learned how to D.J. at age 13. Jones currently performs standup comedy shows all over Northeast Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.
Jones has launched his Facebook and YouTube fan pages, looking to gain more exposure and reach a broader audience.
Production Designer & Props
Zane DeLong’s established a love for movies early in high school. He would spend his time watching old, foreign, or artistic films, which he feels gave him a unique perspective of film.
DeLong has an interest in independent films created with a low budget. He says that understanding the ability and the resourcefulness necessary to complete a low-budget independent, has taught him how to work under less than ideal, or time-pressing conditions. DeLong credits these influences in helping him gain his “artistic eye.”
DeLong is currently an art student at Ohio University. In 2008, he won the Scholastic Golden Key for painting. He looks expects to continue working with video and art and hopes that his fine arts training will help him to achieve his goals.
Assistant Casting Director & Locations Manager
Justin Tillman is a Communications major at Kent State University.
Tillman says he loves to talk. He chose a major based on the art of negotiation. His field is specialized in argument, high-impact speaking and language and meaning.
Tillman would ideally like to work as a lobbyist and in contract negotiations.
Chelsea DeScenna is a Fashion Merchandising major at Kent State University. She feels she has a unique style and sense of imagination. She completed an internship in New York City with Italian fashion designer MaxMara. While in New York, DeScenna worked with Vogue during Fashion’s Night Out and volunteered during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
DeScenna aspires to follow in the footsteps of her aunt, Linda DeScenna, a five-time Academy Award nominated Production Designer and Kent State Alumna, and take her talents to Los Angeles, California.
DeScenna enjoys sketching and taking photographs of the world around her, looking for inspiration. Her influences include Colleen Atwood and Audrey Fisher.
Mayi UmBayemake is a Pan-African Studies major at Kent State University.
She has a fashion background, and worked as a hairstylist for 8 years.
She currently works with the African Community Theatre as the Costume Fashion Director. “Breaking News” is UmBayemake’s first film project. She says that she has met many amazing people and it was an experience she will always remember.
Michael Bennett said his “day job” is an urban sociologist. However, his interests in people and their societal influences on relationships led him to add film producing to his professional portfolio. In his “day job,” Dr. Bennett is a faculty member in the Sociology Department at DePaul University in Chicago. In addition, he was Executive Director of the Monsignor John J. Egan Urban Center at DePaul from 1997 to 2008.
Dr. Bennett leveraged his interests in sociology and to excel as and executive producer of two independent films, “Strange As Angels” and “Contradictions of The Heart.”
He is a native of Sandusky, Ohio and has earned his bachelor’s degree from Kent State University and his master’s and doctorate from The University of Chicago.
Traci Easley Williams is a native of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. She started her career in high school when she was selected to co-anchor the teen news program “2010 Taking You to the Future” on the Fox network. Following graduation, Williams continued to work on the program as an assistant writer and producer. While an undergraduate at Kent State University, Williams worked in the casting department on HBO films “Renegade Force,” “Proximity” and studio films “Welcome to Collinwood” and “Antwone Fisher.” Upon graduation, she moved to Los Angeles, California and began working on feature films with renowned Casting Director and Producer Rueben Cannon.
David Smeltzer received his bachelor’s degree in Zoology from Duke University. He then attended the graduate School of Film at Ohio University where he wrote and produced “Lucy in Disguise,” an award winning documentary about the discovery and analysis of the fossil skeleton Lucy, which aired on PBS nationally.
David spent 15 years producing, directing and editing video programs for Chevron Corporation, Mosby-Yearbook, Lippincott-Raven and other clients, winning multiple awards, including a Silver Telly. In 1997, David began teaching television production at Alameda High School in Alameda, Calif.
In 2005, David left California to accept a position as a tenure-track assistant professor at Kent State University where he teaches basic video, video field, video studio, advanced narrative and corporate video production. In 2007, he completed his master’s degree in Film and is now an associate professor at Kent State University.
Matt Pallotta graduated from Kent State University with a degree in Electronic Media Production and currently teaches video production at Kent State.
Pallotta took on the role lead technical consultant for “Breaking News.” He worked with closely with all departments on the film, hand-picking and training each person for their respected position.
Born and raised in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Pallotta has had a passion for storytelling and the cinema from a very young age. This talent emerged as he wrote short stories and a children’s novel that came close to publishing when he was 8 years old. His writing won him awards through his school years while his interest in film was just beginning to spark. Since 2004, he created Red Duck Picture, producing a feature-length film titled “Imperfections” and a short titled “Lies in the Reflection.” His most recent venture as executive producer has been a mockumentary Web series, “The Road to Sundance: On a Shoestring Budget.”
Pallotta freelances as a commercial and corporate video producer, working for clients ranging from small businesses to larger corporations such as The Cleveland Clinic and Pepsi.
For Immediate Release:
November 29, 2010
“Kent State University Premiers Feature-length Film Shoot by Students at Kent Stage”
Project is part of a New Media Production Program
KENT (NOVEMBER 29, 2010) – An action thriller called Breaking News debuts Wednesday, Dec. 1 at the Kent Stage in downtown Kent, the first-ever feature film produced by a Kent State University collaboration of students, faculty, staff and visiting professionals.
The movie is a collaboration between the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Department of Pan-African Studies and the Hugh A. Glauser School of Music. Approximately 85 students participated in this first-time initiative throughout various stages of the project. Students gained experience in all phases of “Breaking News,” from pre-production to post-production.
The training for the students occurred spring, summer, and fall semesters, which included an eight-week film shoot over the summer. The students were given instruction in a variety of areas including casting, location managing, producing, set design and technical training. Local producer Christina Grozik, who consulted on the development of the course, stated, “The industry insight and knowledge that the students received through this program is invaluable. This experience is unique to the area, and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow.”
“Breaking News” is an action thriller about a man who overcomes his past only to be faced with a situation that will expose a dark secret he has worked hard to hide as he has gained success in his professional life. A team of students wrote the script. Traci Williams, Lecturer at Kent State University and instructor for the program, said, “It was thrilling to have the opportunity to work with the students and provide them with the tools and instruction necessary to be successful in this field. It can be a difficult field to pursue, and the information and hands-on experience that we can provide the students at Kent State will hopefully allow them to understand the many aspects of the industry and be successful in it.”
Together Williams and Dave Smeltzer, assistant professor at Kent State University, spearheaded the project. Both Williams and Smeltzer are industry professionals who have notable credits. “It’s exciting to see the students evolve their skills through this advanced program. They have amazing potential and with the rigorous schedule that film production demands, it is a blessing to have such a dedicated group of students with a strong desire to learn,” Smeltzer said. Jeff Fruit, director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said, “I was very impressed with how students took the initiative to go beyond faculty expectations. We’re looking forward to the next steps to meet the high level of student interest.”
“Breaking News” will premiere Dec. 1, 2010 at the Kent Stage located in Downtown Kent. It will also screen again Dec. 3 on campus at the Kent State University Kiva. All screenings will be at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door. For tickets, please call (330) 672-0143.
For More Information:
Contact Traci Williams at (216) 402-9879