Grambling State University’s motto, “A place where everybody is somebody” stands true because of the variety of talent displayed at the university. GSU graduate student Avia Knighten has produced a thrilling movie, with a comedic relief. It is a meta-film about a couple critiquing a movie. (A meta-film is defined as a movie within a movie.)
The production stars GSU students Mionne Destiny, Rickenzie Johnikin, Lisa Brooks, Jahse Allah, YaLisha Gatewood, and Joshua Burley.
Knighten, a 26-year-old from Little Rock, Arkansas, said she has always had a love for movies, but did not know that film production was what she wanted to pursue until her senior year in high school.
“My parents always took me and my two brothers to the movies after church every Sunday… In high school, I worked at a theater and started becoming interested in the production side,” Knighten explained.
Her inspiration of the movie came from a collaborative idea with Grambling alumna Stephanie Lindsey. “We decided to make a meta-film about how black people react to horror movies,” Knighten said.
“It’s a diverse film because it is spooky and scary, but it has its funny parts,” said Johnikin, 20, a junior mass communication major from Farmerville, Louisiana.
The science-fiction fantasy genre, especially Star Wars has inspired Knighten because of the detailing in the production. Some roadblocks she has often encountered with making films is finding the perfect location. “Being in the South, there aren’t too many decent spots to film.”
For some of the cast members, this was one of their first acting gigs for a movie. All actors in the film found it as a way to better their acting skills.
“I wanted to be involved in the film because my dream is to be an actor,” said Joshua Burley, 21, a junior mass communication major from Corinth, Texas. “This movie will help me pursue my future career.”
For the first-time film actors, the most challenging part of being in the production was playing a character that was the complete opposite of their personality.
“In one scene, I had to be aggressive and mad, which is not in my character,” Johnikin said, “but I had to bring it out of myself.”
Members of the cast agree that the most appropriate audience would be high school and college students who are up for something scary and also students who are interested in film production.
The movie premiered on Sept. 25 and is available on YouTube. A viewing is expected to be announced soon.
Knighten’s end goal is for her production to be played at the Chicago Film Festival.