Local graduates' film receives international award
by Mark Andrews
May 26, 2012 | 3362 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Woodland High graduates Devin Wheeler, left, and Wes Sherwin won the 2012 Savannah Film Festival for their short film “Hysteria,” filmed in Cartersville.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Woodland High graduates Devin Wheeler, left, and Wes Sherwin won the 2012 Savannah Film Festival for their short film “Hysteria,” filmed in Cartersville. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Celebrity filmmakers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck provided aspiring cinematographers, writers and directors an opportunity to shine through their early 2000s TV series “Project Greenlight.” Ten years later, recent Woodland High School graduates Wes Sherwin and Devin Wheeler are making their way independently toward the silver screen and already have made a big impact with their short films on the web.

“As the producer of ‘Hysteria’ and all the short films we’ve done, it’s my job to get the whole cast and crew together and to make sure everyone clicks, and to make sure that our locations are set, to make sure our budget is final and really just make the project come together as a whole and make sure the project itself doesn’t have any holes,” Sherwin said.

Sherwin and friend Wheeler, who works as director of photography, recently won the 2012 Savannah Film Festival for their short film, “Hysteria,” which was filmed in Bartow County and submitted online. The two say without the Internet, the film may not have gathered such a response.

The film depicts the story of a man who wins a radio contest shortly before a tragic turn of events. Both he and the radio personality share a conversation via phone and radio during which they both are faced with making moral, and life changing, decisions.

This isn’t the first time for Sherwin and Wheeler to win a competition. They won the 2011 Savannah Film Festival for their film, “When I Close My Eyes.”

Both Sherwin and Wheeler said making the films have been a learning experience, with “Hysteria” requiring some extra work beyond filming and production.

“We actually ended up going to a neighborhood where we had to get a permit to shoot in,” Sherwin said.

The duo also had to acquire a permit to film inside WBHF, where much of the film takes place.

However, Wheeler said they were prepared for potential detours in filming and thought ahead.

“We really didn’t want any interruptions or anything to hiccup and that’s kind of where Wes comes in as producer to make sure none of those bumps in the road happen and we avoid them,” Wheeler said. “If we found a place we really liked we’d first see if it was available and see if we could get permission to shoot there and we’d get the permits to shoot and once that came along we just found the places [on the location] that would work well for us with lighting and got whatever we needed for the shots.”

While the idea for “Hysteria” was created by Sherwin and Wheeler, they had to hire an outside writer as well as someone to create the score for the film.

“We actually conceptualized the idea when coming back from SCAD,” Wheeler said. “We already had the idea but we came up with the actual meat and potatoes, the actual solid parts of it, then we hired someone to come in and do the dialogue for us and that’s when they came up with the finer nuances of it and the little things in it.”

Sherwin added, “Literally on the way back from [The 2011 Savannah Film Festival], Devin pulled out his laptop ... and we just started writing and talking about it on the way back from Savannah.”

The two had previous experience with learning the ins and outs of editing, filming and production through a course at WHS, but also worked with a local wedding videographer to get some real-world experience with the craft.

“Then it was all our own doing and all our own mistakes that sculpted us into the filmmakers we are today,” Sherwin said.

When scoping the landscape of Bartow, Wheeler said he wanted to portray realism in “Hysteria,” adding finding the right location for filming has been one of the most rewarding aspects of working as director of photography.

“I really told [Sherwin] I wanted everything to look real and believable as possible, I didn’t want to have a fake studio set up, I really wanted to have something real, and that’s when we started tossing around the idea of using WBHF, and we went inside to see it and I just fell in love with it,” Wheeler said. “Just finding a location that good and getting permission to use it was very rewarding — it made the whole film for me.”

Sherwin said during production, helping people collaborate was a rewarding experience.

“The greatest thing for me was seeing a group of people come together that didn’t really know each other,” Sherwin said. “We hired people that weren’t even from Cartersville — we had some people come from Atlanta — to do this film that had no clue who I was or who Devin was and it was really seeing people humble themselves as a cast and crew to make a great film come together.”

Both students received scholarships for SCAD with Sherwin receiving $84,000 over four years and Wheeler receiving $60,000 over four years.

To view the duo’s films, including “Hysteria,” visit www.vimeo.com and search for “Wes Sherwin” under the “people” tab.