Student film maker creates 4-minute short over break

BOWLING GREEN, KY. – 1/30/13 – Portrait of Murray junior Dillon Ward on Jan. 30, 2013. Ward recently made a short film called “Paris Kentucky.” 

While some WKU students were spending the weekend after last semester’s final exams recovering or blowing off steam, junior Dillon Ward was holed up in a friend’s apartment filming his latest piece, “Paris, Kentucky.”

The 21-year-old from Charleston, S.C., wrote and directed the four-minute short film with one character trying to leave a voicemail for a girl he likes.

“I wanted to do something really simple and relatable,” Ward said.

Ever since he was in middle school, Ward said he wanted to make films.

At WKU, Ward said he first tried photojournalism and creative writing. When he felt like he had reached a stopping point with both of these majors, Ward said he applied to create his own major within the Honors College. He designed his own curriculum, and named his major “Storytelling Traditions in Cinema, Literature and New Media.”

Outside of WKU, Ward said he attended classes at Maine Media Workshops and worked on the sets of “21 Jump Street” and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” in New Orleans during the summer of 2011.

Last summer, Ward was an assistant/intern at Scott Rudin Productions.

Planning for “Paris, Kentucky” started in October, when Ward started thinking of ideas and recruiting people to be a part of the project. Enter Alejandro Benito, Cory Hardin and Chris Callahan.

Callahan, a theatre major from Franklin, Tenn., is the only person seen on camera. Ward met Callahan through a mutual friend.

“We just immediately clicked and started getting along,” Callahan said.

He said most of his experience is in live theater, but he is eager to start doing more films.

“He was able to stick to the script and make it feel real,” Ward said about Callahan’s performance.

As far as how the film looked and felt to the audience, Benito, a WKU alumnus from Houston and Ward worked to match the camerawork and lighting with the simplistic concept of the script.

“So we were like, how do we create something that’s still powerful and still has good content — a good story — but without having to use too many resources that we don’t have?” Benito, the cinematographer for the film, said.

Benito said he and Ward were both really happy with the end result of the film.

“It’s clean and it’s simple…but we still think it has a lot of content to it,” he said.

While Benito said he was in charge of the visuals, Ward wrote most of the script, but they bounced ideas off of each other.

Ward and his crew spent about 60 dollars on the film, but they didn’t see it as a problem.

“We saw it as a challenge,” Ward said.

Benito said that Ward has done most of the promoting of the film.

Ward said he plans to enter “Paris, Kentucky” into several film festivals, including the student sections of the Nashville Film Festival, Kentucky Independent Film Festival and the New Hope Film Festival.

After he graduates, Ward said he wants to devote his time to making his own films. Ultimately, he said he would like to build and own a production company somewhere in the South, but right now he’s willing to forgo a comfortable job in order to create his own stories.

“I want to use my youth as much as possible and take those risks,” Ward said.