This semester, students enrolled in the communication capstone course created a post apocalyptic zombie film inspired by “1348”, a musical composition by film composer Charles Barnett. The film,”Strand 1348,” incorporates moods from the silent film era and is livened by romance and zombies.
Dr. Patrick Miles, a professor of horn and director of orchestral activities at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, is the conductor of the film’s score.
“It is very much a challenge, because it is so different. The music cannot be off,” Miles said.
Miles will direct orchestra students for the film’s premiere on April 23 in Michelsen Hall at 7:30 P.M.
“It is not like we have flash clocks like Hollywood does, there is just a stopwatch,” Miles said.
Unlike the silent film era, Miles has no click track to follow, meaning he will have to pay close attention to in order to guide orchestral students as efficiently as possible. Miles previously worked with Leslie DeBauche, a professor of media studies and adviser of the capstone course, who provided a foundation for students.
Ian McKay, the director of “Strand 1348,” said that DeBauche previously produced a film with another capstone course. “Far Tortugas” was the name of the film that, according to the 2009 Central Wisconsin Film Festival Selection, combined live action and silhouette cuttings with vibrant backdrops for audience attraction.
McKay’s focused on the development of the film and oversaw production processes.
“As soon as script writers were done, I was able to visualize how to make it possible,” McKay said.
McKay mentioned that the pre-production process was extensive for students with advertising, casting, and storyboarding.
“Casting was a nightmare. We originally went to the theater department on campus for actors, but there were production conflicts with scheduling. We were scrambling to find people,” McKay said.
David Hastings, a professor of saxophone and music theory, was ultimately cast as Todd in the production.
“I did not audition for the film. I was approached by the casting director,” Hastings said.
Hastings had no previous acting experience but was intrigued when Leslie DeBauche approached him with the idea.
“It was a very enjoyable and interesting experience,” Hastings said.
Hastings had no idea what the film’s plot was until the filming process began. Now that the project is complete, Hastings knows where his character stands.
“It combines a love story with zombie culture. I am kind of the sought-after guy,” Hastings said.
Charlie Barnett did not think his music would inspire this creativity.
“Not in any way did I see this coming,” Barnett said.
Barnett wrote the piece “1348” about the bubonic plague that had swept through Europe in the fourteenth century, killing an estimated 75-200 million people. The plague, also referred to as the black death, peaked in Europe in 1348. It is often remembered as one of the most devastating pandemics in human history.
“When I write an orchestral piece, it comes from a visual place. To my great surprise, no one wanted to write a piece about the black plague. I found it odd and interesting,” Barnett said.
Barnett was especially intrigued that students were inspired by his music to create a zombie film.
“Everyone in the whole world said, ‘Ooh,’ but DeBauche’s class heard it and said, ‘Oh, zombie movie,’” Barnett said.
Barnett is interested to see the final correlation between his music and the film. Thus far, he has only seen bits and pieces of the project.
“I based one whole movement on flagellants. It was a particularly grotesque scene. “1348” was meant to sound macabre,” Barnett said.
Barnett did not envision his music to inspire a movie and credits UWSP students fully with the final product, saying he just provided a basis. Barnett and Hastings feel viewers of the film will be impressed by its quality.
“There is a creative dimension to it that student’s colleagues will be impressed by,” Barnett said.
“I am impressed with the film quality. The final product is visually appealing,” Hastings said.
“Strand 1348” is sure to be a unique experience for audience members deciding to partake in this zombie culture. Tickets are available for purchase at the UWSP Ticket Office.