At 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20, Stephen F. Austin graduate student Herbert Midgley hosted the first public showing of his new feature film, “The Rise of the Robots.”
The movie, which ended up being about 70 minutes, debuted to a crowd of about 175 people in the Baker Pattillo Student Center movie theater.
According to the website, “The Rise of the Robots” is about “A motley crew of four unlikely members will fight to save the world from the rise of the robots due to all of the technology everywhere!”
“Even though this is a Science Fiction film, there is a message to it,” Midgley said. “I feel like when you make a film, you need to make a film for a reason, and there’s a story, a motive behind this film.”
The casting process took months with auditions from college students, Nacogdoches community members and out of town auditions. However, Midgley and his crew came to an agreement. The cast consists of four major characters played by Paxton Collins, Gemma Garcia, Seth Barrett and David Raine.
During the film, Midgley also makes an appearance as the Robot, which was made specifically for this film.
“One thing that’s amazing in this process is I never got to the point where I hated this film,” Midgley said. “I think Science Fiction is fascinating, you can do a lot of really neat stories and audiences are a lot more open.”
The film was shot over the summer of 2012. Typically, the cinematography department will shoot one feature film over the summer. However, during the summer of 2012, two feature films were shot.
According to Midgley, most of the film was shot in Nacogdoches. A lot of the film was also shot on campus, and certain buildings can be seen in the movie and trailer.
Although the main cast consisted of four actors, Midgley estimates there were well over 200 people working on this film. This includes extras in the film and the crew who helped put the film together.
Overall, Midgley had students from the cinematography department, the art department, the theatre department and the sound recording technology department help make this film.
When working on this project, Midgley worked in all areas of the film. To name a few, he credits himself as the writer, director and producer of the film. Members of his crew were also students in the cinematography department who worked to gain experience in filmmaking.
After the film was shot, Midgley did most of the work in post-production. Post-production is largely editing the film, adding special effects, completing the soundtrack, sound designing and more. This process took about a year.
After creating a rough cut of the film, Midgley premiered a version of the movie a few months ago to other students to hear their feedback. Some of the feedback he received was to get more robots.
“The people asked for more robots, so we added more robots,” Midgley said.
Midgley used a lot of his own money on this film, which went towards the creation of the Robot suit, UFO’s and other materials. According to Midgley, he had been saving spare money for this project for a couple of years.
Since the film is of the Sci-Fi genre, Midgley feels it will reach towards a large audience.
“The fun thing about these independent films are that they’re stories that Hollywood, for the most part, will never really tell anymore,” Midgley said. “Because financially they don’t see a big paycheck. These are stories that we’re passionate about.”
According to Midgley, about one-third of the film was created in post-production. Trey Cartwright, a visual effect artist for the film, created a new world, a robot ship and many of the other visual effects seen in the film.
The showing was free for students, faculty and everyone in the community. There were over 150 people in the audience for the premiere, which included children, teenagers, students and adults.
Since this is the first public showing of the movie, Midgley has no plans of putting the movie online just yet. However, putting it online isn’t completely off the table. He plans on going the typical route of entering his movie in competitions, showing it around different towns and marketing it to larger audiences.
But Midgley said there’s a chance of it going on his YouTube channel in a couple of years.
Midgley isn’t just a cinematography graduate student. He is also a lecturer in the music department, with courses such as History of Rock and Roll. He also teaches guitar, music for children, history of jazz and art music classes.
He’s also a self-described Internet legend, with over 2,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, over one thousand videos online and over 6 million views total on his YouTube channel (his most popular video being the “Evolution of Dance 3” with about 760,000 views.)
Midgley also composes music, including one symphony, twelve original works for band and other large form compositions.
Midgley is a member of A.S.CAP, Pi Kappa Lambda, National Music Honorary Society and Kappa Delta Pi, International Education Honorary Society.
SFA Cinematography Department
Filmmaking has been taught at SFA for over 20 years. Hundreds of students have graduated from this program, and its graduates are working in all aspects of the professional field throughout the country.
According to the website, “Students who graduate are totally prepared to work within this field. Our reputation as a film/video school is outstanding and well-known within the vocation.”
William Arscott heads the cinematography program and has been honored by the Stephen F. Austin Board of Regents as an outstanding teacher by naming him a Regents Professor in 1984 – 1985.
Students interested in pursuing a degree in filmmaking can visit the film website for more information. The department offers B.A. and B.F.A. programs, as well as a M.F.A. program.
The introductory course for filmmaking is ART 212, which is Art/Film Video Production. From there, students repeat ART 412 Advanced Art Film/Video Production, which can be repeated up to six times and again repeated under ART 491, Special Problems in Art.
For more information on the M.F.A., students can visit the website here.
But for students in the M.F.A. program like Midgley, they must complete their thesis film. “The Rise of the Robots” is Midgley’s thesis, which must be publicly shown and then defended in front of a four-member Thesis Advisory Meeting.
“It’s been an amazing process, and making a feature film is a very difficult thing to complete,” Midgley said. “To keep your attention in this Twitter and Facebook world is very difficult, so to keep someone’s attention for 70 minutes is very difficult.”
Trailer for “The Rise of the Robots”:
How to build a full size UFO:
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