By Megan Ann Williams
Photos by Julie Copenhaver
Lights. Camera. Action. Chris Hansen, a professor in the Baylor film and digital media department, is spending his summer in the director’s chair as he begins production on his third feature film, An Affair. The film follows the story of two strangers married to other people. Both characters are at vulnerable stages in their lives and meet at a dark motel on a lonely night. Attraction turns into flirtation, and they have to make the decision about whether or not to cross the line into cheating.
The Line caught up with Hansen and his crew of Baylor students, alumni, and professors during the first week of production in Waco to see how things were starting out. Already, they had worked together through long nights, location conflicts, and unexpected mishaps. However, instead of letting these events drag them down, the crew was motivated to succeed and draw as much from the experience as possible.
Lauren Woodruff, a graduate student from Sugar Land, is serving as director’s assistant. “I’m really, really proud of our crew,” Woodruff said. “They’ve all stepped up to the plate and gotten things done like we needed them to. In terms of what is in the camera, the product, it’s all looking really good.”
The crew for the film is mostly composed of Baylor undergraduates, and among them you can find a variety of skill levels, from the most experienced of upperclassmen to first-time film students.
For Erin Hill, a sophomore from Houston, this is her first time on the Baylor campus. She recently transferred to Baylor and became a film and digital media major, deciding to fully immerse herself in her newfound studies.“I wasn’t really sure if this was what I wanted to do, but I love it. Everyone working together for a product is great!” She is currently working on “The Making Of” film for the special features section of the DVD.
Though everyone on set seems to be filled with enthusiasm, they have all had their fair share of difficulties. Perhaps more than anyone, Tyler Ellis, a graduate student from Waco, knows about disasters on the set. As the film’s production designer, Ellis was responsible for transporting one of the props, a motorcycle, in a trailer to the film’s location. When he got on the freeway, the trailer came unhitched and crashed into the median, thankfully not causing much damage. “Every day something new that you wouldn’t expect happens,” Ellis said. “Pray the that nothing happens today.” Thankfully, their day of shooting went smoothly.
The theme of the film has also been a matter of debate, since cheating isn’t the most lighthearted of subjects. The director of photography, Taylor Rudd, an `09 alum from Austin, had a unique perspective on the topic of affairs. “As a newlywed, I think it is a really interesting topic to explore. We will actually be filming on my first anniversary,” Rudd explained.
Rudd isn’t the only crew member who finds the film’s topic intriguing. Taylor Epps, a junior from Celina and the first assistant director, says that the film’s topic really hit home for her. “I love the script, but coming from a place where the only relationship I’ve ever been in lasted three years, and was with someone who cheated on me from the beginning to the end… it strikes a chord in me, which makes it very real.”
Jake Beck, a sophomore from Waco, also appreciates the script’s thought-provoking nature. “I think it will open some eyes, and it won’t be an easy watch, but hopefully it will be an intellectual one.”
Hansen, the writer and director of An Affair, explained his motivation for writing about such a forbidden subject. “I write from my gut. Something hits me, and I just write about it.” He was intrigued by the idea of two people being stuck in a secluded world together, forced to deal with emotions and feelings that are usually left unexplored. When writing the script, he drew on his own life and marriage for inspiration, which added significantly to the authenticity of the characters and their situation. “I want to make movies about real people with real problems and how they deal with them,” Hansen said.
Since the filming of An Affair coincides with a student summer workshop, Hansen has had to adapt to an inexperienced crew. He explained, “What we give up in experience we make up for in enthusiasm.” When asked what his goals are for the remainder of production, he simply said, “Surviving.” Despite all of the unexpected bumps in the road, Hansen and his crew of Baylor Bears prove that motivation and excitement are the key to getting things done.