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Making Movies with Zach

Zach Puckett is a friend of mine, and we both happen to be graduating this Saturday. Zach is a film major with a concentration in TV production and interned at County Music Television (CMT) in summer of 2014. He shared with me some of his opinions on English and his experiences as a film major, intern, and student. Oh, and read on after the break for some fun movies Zach has made during his time at WKU!! (A good break from finals week blues.)

Zach Puckett: Film buff, intern, friend

Zach Puckett: Film buff, Bender fan

Jacky Killian: How is English important to you as a film major?

Zach Puckett: With me having a creative writing minor also, really is more about film is about storytelling. Part of the reason why I took the creative writing minor was to make films and write films. English is a big deal with that because it includes grammar and story structure because with a lot creative writing classes I’ve taken, there’s been an emphasis on story structure. Beginning, middle, end, rising action. It’s something you need to learn, and you learn this in film but there’s so many parts of film that you need to learn that [storytelling] gets pushed to the wayside sometimes, so English makes up for it.

Jacky: What does it mean to be a film major?

Zach: Some people use film to make a statement or tell a story. Film is just another part of art. To me, it’s about the magic of making a movie. There are still stories to be made, and the production of a film itself can be interesting. It’s an interesting field that I enjoy a lot. It’s about the love of film; that’s what it means to be a film major.

Jacky: What drew you to film?

Zach: Me watching films endlessly as a kid. When I was young, my parents had a bunch of VHS tapes. I got to watch a lot of really cool movies. It was something I carried on with since I was 4. I would watch classics such as the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies, Dark Crystal, Star Wars, Indiana Jones. Those films drew me in and [other films kept me in]. Jurassic Park was monumental. Growing up in the 90s, I got to experience the Disney Renaissance. With the turn of the millennium, there was the Lord of the Rings trilogy. That was something that really spoke to me. The Lord of the Rings was such a cool experience because with the extended editions and the stuff they had with just making the film. To me that was so interesting and Lord of the Rings was one of the movies where I knew so much about the production. That love of production made me start looking into more behind the scenes and creator interviews. I grew up with a passion for it until it was something I wanted to do.

Jacky: What are some of the challenges you face as a film student?

Zach: Time management. That is it in a nutshell. There’s pre-production, production, and post-production, but more to it than that. You can’t do it last minute. It takes months, of not years, of planning. Even when there’s plan, it helps to have back-up plans. Something will go wrong: an actor won’t show up, there’s a set you can’t use, something breaks, and you need a backup plan. And that backup plan needs a backup plan. There’s no such thing as “I’m going to wing this film.” It doesn’t turn out that well.

Jacky: Do you think English majors thought of writing as producing a film, do you think we would have an easier time writing the papers we have to work on?

Zach: That would help. It helps to pace yourself. Rather than try to get it all done, try to cut into sections. Space it to where you don’t have to write it all in one jumbled mess.

Jacky: What is your favorite movie right now?

Zach: My favorite film is The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. I still hold that movie close to my heart because of the emotion in that movie.

Jacky: Why did you choose to concentrate in TV film production?

Zach: I did it for career flexibility. It was about opening up of different paths. With the creative writing minor, I can do some freelance writing. With TV production, I can work at a TV station. Despite what people think, the film world and TV world are completely different animals. They share some similarities, but from production standpoint, they’re different. With the TV, I wouldn’t mind working on some TV things. I wouldn’t mind doing a few TV shows, and a lot of directors have worked in TV. With TV, local stations are looking for people to fill in and it’s easier to get in. If you play your cards right, you can start climbing up the ladder.

Jacky: Can you tell me your favorite experience while you were at CMT?

Zach: I had a lot of fun working it. This doesn’t have to do with film, it was just me having a little fun. I ended up coming in time for the CMT Awards show, and it was all hands on deck. I ended up talking to someone about doing talent escort. So I was driving around in the golf cart, picking up talent, and all these country stars and I didn’t know who they were. But they would tell me who they were and I would brag to my friends. I got to meet some pretty cool people. Brad Paisley. Eric Church. The two guests that got me were Lizzie Hale from Halestorm, and she was great. The one to make my dad jealous was sharing a cart with ZZ Top. I wasn’t allowed to talk them, but they shared a couple jokes and they were great. I can’t describe how it felt.

Jacky: What’s your favorite experience at WKU?

Zach: I enjoyed the social interacting, I made some great friends. I enjoyed working under one of my professors because he gave us free reign so long as we met certain criteria. I had a great experience here.

Film Festival Maniac took third place at this year’s 49 hour film festival challenge!

And Klebor!

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