A behind-the-scenes look at the making of "AMERICAN Tryptych" (photo submitted).

“AMERICAN Triptych,” a short film from Booker T Mattison premieres December 3

The short film showcases collaboration from EMST students and alumni.

“AMERICAN Triptych,” a new short film from Booker T Mattison, assistant professor of Entertainment and Media Studies, is set to premiere December 3.

This short film is a triptych, meaning it is three separate works of art that are unified by a common theme. The commonality in this triptych is Covid-19.

The film features three narrative chapters. Each highlights a different protagonist — one white American, one Asian-American and one African-American. Through those lenses, the film explores food insecurity, homelessness, xenophobia and police brutality all amid the Covid-19 pandemic in the summer of 2020.

“AMERICAN Tryptych” provides a look at the pandemic through the lenses of different American ethnicities (photo submitted).

“”AMERICAN Triptych” also serves as a veritable showcase of the talent that we have in the department of entertainment and Media studies in Grady College, the Design & Technology MFA in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at Franklin College and our new MFA in Film, TV Production and Digital Media,” said Mattison.

Most of the professionals who worked on the film also teach in the MFA Film, Television, and Digital Media program, an innovative program where students study one year on campus in Athens and one year at Trillith Studios.

Mattison is the film’s writer and director. Shandra McDonald, the film’s producer, is based at Trillith Studios. Bryan Cole is the film’s editor.

Julie Ray and Ivan Ingermann, the production designer and costume designer, teach in the Design & Technology MFA.

Dave Kruetzer, the gaffer, teaches production in the Film Studies department.

The cinematographer is Garland McLaurin, a Peabody Award-winning cinematographer who previously taught EMST students.

“AMERICAN Triptych” is a group effort with faculty, alumni and current students. The film gave UGA students an opportunity to work on a professional production with award-winning filmmakers.

Cyrus Townsend (AB ’19) worked as the assistant editor. Townsend is currently a content operations edit apprentice at WarnerMedia Studios. He is excited about the ever-growing community of filmmakers in Georgia.

“I loved getting back and touch with Mattison and a lot of my peers from UGA,” Townsend said. “I feel as though it’s poetic that after the pandemic, I felt very distant from my peers and this film about people going through the pandemic is what brings us back together!”

The film premieres was created during the pandemic and ensured all cast and crew remained healthy during production.(photo submitted).

Demi Lehman is a double major in EMST and Theatre. She is one of the actors in “AMERICAN Triptych.” She had briefly met Mattison in Dean Charles Davis’ career explorations class designed to introduce pre-Grady students to opportunities within the college. Lehman recognized Mattison’s name on a casting call website for actors. That led to an audition and being cast for the role.

“My favorite part of this project was how kind and collaborative everyone was throughout the entire process,” Lehman said. “It was even cooler for me to see how students and faculty from UGA came together to create a really impressive and efficient set. It was the perfect blend of both of my majors and I got to see the skills I’ve learned in a classroom in action on set.”

Other students involved in the film include Samantha Eubanks, design production assistant, Cash Robinson, key grip, Brandt Tharpe, camera production assistant and second assistant director and Cullen Herter, who shadowed the production.

There is a UGA Spotlight on the Arts virtual event on November 17 where guests can learn about the art of collaboration in filmmaking and ask questions. In addition to Mattison, participants include McDonald, Ray, Ingermann, and Cole, all from Theatre and Film Studies. All five panelists are involved in teaching within UGA’s new MFA program in Film, Television, and Digital Media. Register here.

The film premieres on Friday, December 3 at 6 p.m. in the Balcony Theatre at the Fine Arts Building. Masks are strongly encouraged at the screening.

Date: November 15, 2021
Author:  Dayne Young,  dayne@uga.edu