Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Radio-television-film freshmen create fun superhero short film, build confidence

Manoo Sirivelu
Radio-Television-Film freshman Maddox Stockton on the CMA lawn on Jan. 26, 2023. His recently finished short film “Back Issues” has been submitted to competitions such as Dallas International, Austin, Tibeca and San Diego Comic Con.

When Maddox Stockton first walked onto set for his film “Back Issues,” the smoke and darkness against the film’s ‘vigilanteman’, comic superheroes, appeared just as he imagined it for months. Facing the challenges that directing can bring, he stayed focused and urged his crew to continue to trust him in directing everything else he envisioned. 

When Stockton first met fellow radio-television-film freshman Ethan Hill at orientation, Stockton shared the bones of his idea for a short film called “Back Issues.” In the weeks that followed, Stockton researched old comic styles, writing a script about a group of robbers telling stories about their city’s ‘vigilanteman’. Each story drew inspiration from a different periods, jumping between the 1940s, 1960s and 1990s. By the beginning of his freshman fall semester, Stockton began searching for a perfect cast and crew. 

“You’re in college for four years, so people start small and then ramp up and make something big senior year,” Stockton said. “But I wanted to make something big to start off with so that the following opportunities (would be) uphill from there, rather than flatlining for two years and then making something good.”

To accomplish a relatively big project, Stockton prioritized clear communication with his crew and constantly encouraged their trust. Stockton said this approach felt new, as he possessed free reign in previous projects and never needed to prove his ability to accomplish them before. 

“Maddox is really smart in the way he knows exactly what he wants,” said Hill, who became the film’s director of photography. “If it is even slightly off, he’s going to tell you so.”

Maddox prioritized cultivating his crew’s trust. He also found other UT students he could trust to take on bigger projects in the future with, including his roommate William Beachum, whose dedication to his projects matched Stockton’s and enabled him to become one of the short film’s producers. 

“For film people, it’s like they will deteriorate if they’re not actively creating,” Beachum said.

Beachum, also a radio-television-film freshman, said having a working relationship with his roommate encourages better communication between them and allows for a better understanding of each other’s boundaries. 

“(When you’re roommates), you can’t hide how you’re feeling,” Beachum said. “You will see they’re not sleeping or they’re stressed out. There’s that sort of accountability there with being roommates.”

Overall, Stockton said he gained a lot in creating a project worth submitting to comic cons across the country and prioritizing finding a good film community in his first semester.

“Even though I was telling people to trust me, it was a little scary, like now this is all on me if this blows up,” Stockton said. “There’s always room to grow and do certain things better, but I’m on the right track.”

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