Fade in. Three haunting piano notes accompany the sound of tires on wet pavement. Words appear across the screen – the staggering statistics of child prostitution in America. Over the next 18 minutes, “Cross-Country” unfolds, the captivating story told by award-winning, undergraduate filmmakers who are bringing national attention to media studies at UNCG.
“Cross-Country” is one of seven award-winning films credited to B&G Studios, a completely student-run production company with filmmakers who have garnered 14 awards and 17 clients so far. Not bad, considering that founders David Stapp and Jesse Ashe don’t even graduate until May.
“We were impatient,” David says, recalling how he and Jesse came together to form B&G. “We just wanted to make movies.”
B&G stands for Blue & Gold, UNCG’s school colors.
Their partnership developed out of mutual admiration for each other’s work. Jesse’s specialty is music video production. David prefers filmmaking. As sophomores, both of their films were nominated at Campus Movie Fest, the world’s largest student film festival. David’s film, “Life After Death,” won Best Drama and Best Director, advancing him to the national competition in Los Angeles, where he finished in the top five for Best Director and top 25 for Best Picture.
After that success came B&G, which has grown to a team of 40 filmmakers representing a variety of skills – directing, photography, cinematography, audio engineering, editing, color grading, scoring and makeup.
“By the nature of our coming together, we have amazing resources,” David says. “We wanted to develop a network of people who want to explore filmmaking and can rely on each other.”
The group meets every Wednesday at 10 p.m. “We want everyone to get involved and pitch ideas. You don’t need experience. That’s what the group is for,” Jesse says.
“Cross Country” was B&G’s first major collaboration. The film was an official selection in three different film festivals – East Coast Student Film Festival, Moving Media Film Festival in Michigan and YoungCuts International Film Festival in Quebec.
For 2012-13, David’s film, “Relapse,” is another Campus Movie Fest national finalist, sending the young filmmaker back to Hollywood – this time with 20 of his classmates. A total of five B&G films are up for awards – Relapse, Moon, Light, Jeff and Love Digital. One might even be featured at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
“That really got people pumped up. They had faith in the group. We showed that we could win awards for our work,” David says.
More recognition has followed. Two films were just accepted to the Carolina Film and Video Festival(Feb. 20-23), NC’s longest student-run film festival, sponsored by the UNCG Media Studies Department.
The group has demonstrated more than talent; they have good business acumen. “We’re learning about planning, financing and balancing the client’s vision with ours,” David says.
According to Jesse, the students share the various leadership roles. Jesse, for instance, has been integral in developing a robust client roster for their freelance work – weddings, commercials, and a lot of music videos for bands like Zeds Dead, Adventure Club and Cry Wolf.
With graduation on the horizon, David and Jesse hope to obtain an LLC license and grow their company while continuing to collaborate with UNCG. They’re discussing the possibility of internships as well as working with the university to make the studio experience part of its academic programming for young filmmakers.
“It would be great to see the filmmakers in media studies getting recognition at the national level,” David adds. “I think that would be huge for UNCG.”
By Andrea Spencer, University Relations
Photography by David Wilson, University Relations