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Brooke teacher involves students in film

October 2, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

WELLSBURG - A Brooke High School English and drama teacher recruited several students, a few colleagues and friends to help him achieve his dream of creating a movie.

But Nathan Marshall will have to miss the premiere of his first film, "Let it Rip," at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Brooke High School because the brief comedy has been selected to appear in the West Virginia Filmmakers Festival in Sutton this weekend.

Marshall said he's excited to have his first film, an hour-long mockumentary similar in style to "The Office" or "This is Spinal Tap," included in the festival. But he's also happy the film is making its official debut at the school, as several students and fellow teachers were among the many who helped to make it a reality.

Admission to the school's screening of the film is $5, with proceeds going to the drama club.

Marshall isn't a stranger to film. For the last three years he has been hosting the "Ohio Valley Tonite" segments of WTRF-TV's Friday night newscasts.

The segment features brief features Marshall, a former standup comic and television news reporter, interviewing a variety of guests, from local Christian rap group Kalled Out to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.

Working behind the scenes are fellow Brooke High School teacher John Zumpetta and his video production class and students in Marshall's theater classes.

As a result, the eclectic cast includes former WTRF-TV anchorman Jim Forbes; twin Christian musicians Brian and Shawn Chrisagis; Bethany College drama professor Luke Hardt; fellow Brooke teachers Jim Rowing, Emily Yost and Carla Stone; and former Brooke students Shannon Reardon, Katie O'Connell, Rachel Richard, Brandon Yost, Jess Smith, Lindsey Willis, Trent Radcliffe and Zac Morris.

A number of students also were involved behind the scenes, giving up a day of their Christmas break last year to join Marshall in shooting scenes at Bethany College.

Marshall said college officials were cooperative in allowing him to use the campus, and he was careful not to film anything that would confuse his alma mater with the fictional Wheeler College, where the film is set.

He said unlike Bethany, Wheeler has a history of failure and the film involves Mumford Hatfield, a senior hired to film a commercial aimed at reversing its ever declining enrollment while various forces work against that.

Providing songs for the film were Brooke alumnus Brandon Heisler, who now performs with a Boston band; and Essential Machine, a band made up of R.J. and Karen Dietrich, who also will perform after the film on Friday.

Brooke High School junior Caleb Isinghood said working on the film gave him new respect for the various professionals involved.

"I had no clue how much went into making a feature film. Now it's impossible not to appreciate the amount of work that goes into such an artistic effort," he said.

Marshall said it was a learning experience for him, too.

"The various aspects of editing took the most time. You don't even think about how much work goes into movie credits until you've done it," he said.

Summing up the experience of making the film, Marshall said, "A lot of good people came together and we learned a lot."

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