Surrounded by the sound of birds chirping, a young African-American man stands before a grave. Suddenly, a deafening gunshot goes off and steps echo as another young African-American man walks onto a stage, lit by a single spotlight.
The man on the stage is WKU senior Durwan Green, and this is the opening to his new film, “Extinction,” the first film that the 21-year-old said he’s ever directed.
Near the end of his sophomore year at WKU, Green wrote a poem about police brutality and performed it around campus. He was approached by WKU student Sean Robinson, who suggested Green record the poem. Green worked with Robinson and other WKU students, including Chris Wilborn and Jeris Johnson, who shot the film while Green directed.
Green said the filming process took about a year to complete.
“I didn’t know how to do it,” Green said. “Now I’m shooting a lot more films, but I didn’t know how to operate it.”
When it came time to edit the film, Green said the guys were busy with other things.
“I was just tired of waiting, so I ended up just doing a bunch of research and edited it myself,” Green said.
WKU graduate Nate Hearn, 22, was one of Green’s former Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity brothers and an actor in “Extinction.”
When Hearn was told about Green’s idea to make his poem into a film, he said he felt as though “it was not only a great idea but one that people really need to understand and comprehend fully.”
“You hear about it in the news, but hearing about it so often only does so much, and we felt as though if we put a visual behind it, it’ll hit a little harder,” Hearn said.
Hearn said Green is a director who definitely knows what he wants.
“He has a vision, and he’s open to ideas, but at the same time, he knows the bigger picture,” Hearn said. “He knows what the bigger picture, knows what he wants it to look like, and so as a group, we kind of collaborate ideas to achieve that bigger picture.”
WKU graduate Harrison Hill, 22, who was also one of Green’s fraternity brothers, was an editor for “Extinction” because he was not there for filming. He said he had heard Green’s poem before he came to him with the idea about making the film.
“When he came to me talking about making a short film into it, I knew instantly it was gonna be one of the best, I guess, it was one of the best he could’ve ever thought about,” Hill said.
Hill said seeing the film come to fruition was inspiring and amazing.
“I think the film really helps paint a picture of the struggles of discrimination in our society, and we don’t really have a lot of visual representations of that,” Hill said regarding the film.
Green said the project transformed and transpired into something a lot bigger than what he originally thought when he wrote the poem.
In addition to being Green’s first film, “Extinction” was the first film for the new brand that Green started with Hill and Hearn. The brand is called “Ception.”
“The purpose of these films and the purpose of the brand is basically providing a platform for different talents and different art forms to spread universal messages,” Green said.
With a laugh, Green said the main response from viewers of “Extinction” has been crying, and those responses make him want to keep going.
“I put a lot of time into it and so this is my first video of many to come,” Green said regarding his film. “Even though it’s not ideal and it’s not perfect, it’s definitely the time to put it out there with Black History Month being out there and people being ready to listen.”
Reporter Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Nicole Ziege on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.