Alumnus solicits treasure to create 'Trash'
Posted: Sunday, October 19, 2014 11:57 pm | Updated: 12:06 am, Mon Oct 20, 2014.
For NC State alumnus Darius Dawson, filmmaking is all about telling stories that come from the soul. A Fayetteville native and 2012 graduate, Dawson will return to Raleigh in February to direct his new short film Trash, his first major production since leaving the university.
Having always been interested in the arts, Dawson said he began looking into film as a career while attending NC State. At the time, however, he was a civil engineering major.
“I went to a math and science high school where they convinced everyone you had to go into math or science,” Dawson said. “Then I took a film theory class at State and started researching it. I’ve been interested in it since my freshman year at NC State.”
Dawson said he quickly made the switch to film studies and made shorts all throughout his years as an undergraduate student. Out of the 10 or so films he made during that time, he directed four of them.
“I’m a cinematographer and don’t direct that often,” Dawson said. “When you start out, you don’t really know what to do, so you’re shooting and directing.”
Dawson said he got the idea for Trash about five years ago. The film tells the story of a teenage runaway when her abusive stepfather discovers where she’s hiding. At the same time, she is struggling with the decision of whether or not to keep her baby, the product of an ill-begotten relationship.
“Trash is the story of what we throw away and what we decide to keep,” Dawson said on the film’s Indiegogo profile. “At its core, the story is about forgiveness and growing up too fast.”
Dawson said personal experiences and the things he saw growing up influenced him heavily as he wrote Trash.
“The film is not so much focusing on sensational things, but on the minor things,” Dawson said.
According to Dawson, his upbringing in Fayetteville played a huge role as well.
“There’s rural life and not having a lot of money,” Dawson said. “I just look at how much I was influenced by Fayetteville and by life in the country in general.”
Upon graduating from NC State, Dawson attended New York University’s graduate film program in Singapore and later did cinematography for films in and around Southeast Asia. Dawson is now back in the United States finishing his MFA at DePaul University in Chicago.
Dawson’s trips abroad provided him with insight regarding the best places for filmmakers to pursue their careers.
“If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, right now China is on the rise,” Dawson said. “Hollywood films are doing better in China. In Europe, there’s a new independent wave.”
However, Dawson also said the U.S. has plenty of opportunities as well.
“The easiest place to make a film is America,” Dawson said. “If you’re interested, get yourself a camera and just go. If you don’t have a lot of resources, find the stories around you and tell those stories.”
Dawson said he plans to remain an indie filmmaker. He and Trash’s producer Whitney Howard formed a film team called Nuance Films.
“I want to explore something outside of the studio,” Dawson said.
Despite his extensive education, Dawson said filmmakers do not necessarily have to go to an arts school such as NYU because stories come from within.
“When you go to an arts school, they don’t give you the stories to tell,” Dawson said. “They provide you with the equipment and people to critique your films once you’re done. It’s about you having a story and being in touch with where that story comes from. I know plenty of people making films who never went to film school.”
Sarah Stein, an associate professor in the communication department and one of Dawson’s former teachers, praised his work and said she is excited to see where he’ll go from here.
“He was sort of a much more sophisticated filmmaker,” Stein said. “He had a very unusual capacity to think cinematically, meaning he got the way that film can use voice, color or black and white and the way to frame images. I have excellent students, but Darius came really already formed by the time he got to me.”
Dawson said he hopes to come back to the university in the next couple months and speak to students who are interested in working on Trash before shooting begins in February. He also hopes to raise $7,000 via Indiegogo in the next 50 days to further Trash’s production. As of press time, Trash had raised $270.
“I want to come back to where it all started and help some who are starting out,” Dawson said.
For more information about Dawson or Trash, visit the film’s Indiegogo page at www.indiegogo.com/projects/trash-the-movie.