Department News 05-14-18

Scott Christopherson recently finished making The Insufferable Grooa feature length documentary about a local oddball filmmaker, and BYU Grad, Stephen Groo. The film looks at Steve’s life after 20 years of filmmaking and 205 films, as he tries to make it big. He attempts to re-make his next big hit, an elf/human love story film titled The Unexpected Race.  Groo is a true American Do-it-Yourself film auteur. His eccentric style has gained him a loyal Hollywood fan base including Jared Hess (director, Napoleon Dynamite & Nacho Libre), Jack Black, Jemaine Clement, and Mike White.  Because of his obsession with making films, Groo and his wife, Sherry, and their four children rely solely on his wife’s income, and he has never made a profit. The film follows Groo as he tries to woo and cast Jack Black as the sheriff in his film. With no permits, little money, and volunteer actors, Groo’s yearlong production encounters problems that threaten to shut it down daily. But finally, in a surreal moment, Jack Black agrees to be in Groo’s movie. Groo drives to Los Angeles to film and direct Jack as he plays a small-town sheriff trying to take down the rogue elf in The Unexpected Race. But since the finish of his masterpiece, Groo finds himself still seeking for distribution and a chance to make it big.  On a broader level, the film explores the role of artist and the cost of pursuing one’s dream.  The Insufferable Groo was recently selected to the 2018 Sheffield Documentary Film Festival, in Sheffield, England. Indiewire calls Sheffield “one of the top dozen doc festivals in the world.” It is considered the UK’s biggest non-fiction film festival and the third largest international festival in the world. PBS lists Sheffield as one of 20 “top tier” film festivals in the world. Out of thousands of submissions, only 180 films are selected each year, and only a portion of those are feature length films. Of those thousands of films entered, only 35 are selected as world premieres. The Insufferable Groo was honored to be selected as a world premiere.  In 2017, a record total of 72,146 people attended, including 3,397 industry delegates who travelled from 54 countries and included 36,008 public audiences. It’s a huge honor for Scott to premiere The Insufferable Groo at Sheffield this June.  To access their kickstarter page, click here; to access the film’s webpage, click here.

The Insufferable Groo.png


Shawnda Moss was honored in the AATE Incite/Insight magazine.  Justin Charles, who currently teaches high school, attended and liked the workshop she gave last fall so much that he wrote an article about his experience. Shawnda is glad someone found it immediately practical and useful, which is what she tries to do.  Shawnda has been approached by the editing team and asked to write a companion article to the piece.  The article is pages 16-17 of the winter 2018 edition of Incite/Insight, available here. The article reflects well on TMA’s Theatre Education program and philosophy of teaching.

Incite:Insight Article


London Film Study Abroad, as reported by Brad Barber:  Things are off to a great start with week 1 in the books here in London.  The students all arrived safely, acclimated, and have jumped in completely to the various bewildering cultural offerings in this city.  One of them has even passed a kidney stone!  Dean and Brad have enjoyed teaching in the historic Hyde Park building and have accompanied the students on several outings.  Brad’s wife Susan and boys Andrew and Sammy are enjoying these outings with the students too, with Andrew (age 13) attending classes regularly.  Everyone in the program is thrilled and tremendously grateful to be here.


Theatre London Study Abroad, as reported by Hannah Gunson-McComb:  The students have really taken their theatrical freedom in stride— most spend their days doing “double features,” booking matinees in addition to our planned evening shows. What’s especially cool is that each student has enough theatre to supply their needs! We have students interested in fringe theatre, musicals, and everything in between. London has no shortage!  We had the pleasure of seeing Strictly Ballroom (based off the movie), Red (a play about Mark Rothko and the Seagram murals) and Way of the World (a French farce). The class was enthusiastically in favor of Red, being very inspired by the artist’s onstage struggle.  We’re off to Stratford Upon Avon bright and early today!

London Theatre Study Abroad Week 2.png


Here are some fun photos of the Divine Comedy workshop trip to London! Photos include Divine Comedy advisor, George Nelson, and his wife, Leslie, as well as the following cast members:  Julianne Cook, Aaron Fielding, Alena Helzer, Becca Hurley, Addison Jenkins, Dalton Johnson, and Parker Kelly.

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