ASU staff member has eye on film career
If you want a movie recommendation, Phillip Karagas would be a good person to ask.
Karagas, an administrative assistant and scheduler in the Department of English, keeps the mail carrier busy bringing eight or nine Netflix movies per week.
(But that’s down from the 14 to 15 films he used to watch every week.)
Karagas not only likes to see movies, but he likes to make them, too, and has his eyes on a career in film one day.
Karagas and his long-time friend Marcus Boykin have formed a film company named Crossed Hares Productions, and recently submitted their seven-minute film, “Judgement,” to the Almost Famous Film Festival.
“We placed 14th in the top 20, and the film was shown at the AMC Arizona Center 24 Theatre in downtown Phoenix,” Karagas said.
The two have shot 13 short films in the past three years, and have submitted four of them to festivals.
With the goal of eventually producing full-length films, Karagas, who holds a degree in English literature, is working for another undergraduate degree at ASU in theater and film and media production.
Karagas and Boykin, whose first undergraduate degree is in theater, and who also is working on a degree in film, have tried to “encapsulate the older Westerns that we grew up with as children,” Karagas said. “As I was growing up I was – and still am -- a big fan of Clint Eastwood and spaghetti Westerns.”
Through Crossed Hares, they make films that illustrate “the dichotomy of our own personalities,” Karagas said. “I’m cynical and have been an agnostic from an early age, and Marcus is spiritual and active in his church. We are like dark and light.
“What makes our partnership work so well is that our disparate world views tend to form a complete whole when we collaborate: the inherent darkness in much of my writing, when combined with the cautious optimism of Marcus’ best writing, forms a complete picture.
“Without one or the other, we might tend to play too closely to our strong suits.”
So what films are on Karagas’s “must-see” list?
“’The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ is the only perfect film I’ve ever seen,” he said. “The moral standing in the film (no black and white/good and evil, only various shades of gray) was instrumental in setting my own views and thoughts on the world at large.
“To this day, I am able to find the glimmer of light in the darkest of actions, while realizing that even fundamentally good actions might produce evil results.
“I also like ‘The Godfather’ because I’m interested in the Mafia.” Karagas added.
Friends and family of the two men, who have known each other since they were students at Mesa High School, usually appear in their films.
They met Shamiqua Reed, the lead actress in “Judgement,” however, at a kick-off event for the Almost Famous Film Festival, and offered her the part in their icy-cool, modern Western thriller.
As they continue to build and improve their filmmaking process, Karagas said, “We are more committed to discovering new talent. To that end, we plan to start auditioning actors for many of our upcoming productions, while still utilizing our close associates in key behind-the-scenes roles.”
Why film instead of theater or photography?
“Film is such a precise art,” Karagas said.
To view “Judgement,” go to the Almost Famous Film Festival’s Web site, www.thea3f.net. Click on the Past Events tab, and select Watch Top 20. Select the film thumbnail in the third row, fourth from left, that pictures an African American woman with a man with a shaved head standing behind her.