Celebrate Black History Month with ‘Midnight Cry’

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By Rachel Johnson, Staff Writer



SHALLOTTE—A local filmmaker and West Brunswick High School alumni is giving back to her alma mater.

Sheena Vaught graduated from UNCW in December 2011 with a major in film studies. Now in the midst of creating two documentaries to air on ATMC in March, she is lending a hand to the WBHS theater and arts department and introducing students to new skills and acting opportunities.

Vaught and WBHS students are in production for “Midnight Cry.”

“Last May I was asked to direct a play for Black History Month at West Brunswick,” Vaught said. “I know more about film than stage.”

Working with WBHS theater and arts teacher Jennifer Creighton-Negron, Vaught proposed the idea of a film.

“We thought this would be a good way to introduce students to 21st-century storytelling,” Vaught said.

The production is sponsored by a grant from the Brunswick Arts Council.

“We are very excited at West to be expanding the Theatre Arts department in this new direction of film production,” Creighton-Negron said.

Vaught said initially student interest was limited, but then it was announced the production would be a film.

Twenty students have been working with Vaught to film “Midnight Cry” on location. They are involved in almost every aspect and are learning the differences between film and stage acting.

“It takes a long time to film three minutes,” Vaught said. “Students are beginning to understand the process of filmmaking. I hope they will want to learn more about film and appreciate it more.”

The final version of the rendition of “Midnight Cry” will not be complete until late spring; however, theater students have prepared a program in honor of Black History Month to perform this weekend.

“Midnight Cry,” Vaught explained, is about a young slave girl’s decision to runaway and the struggles she faces as her family is split and sold. The premise is based on the Underground Railroad as a slave finds her freedom.

“When I read the play, I kept thinking this is really good. And I could see every moment as a film,” Vaught said.

The play has been rewritten with rights to film. Audiences can catch a free sneak peak of the film this weekend at WBHS.

“We are having a free preview of the film ‘Midnight Cry’ along with some live staged songs and scenes, to be presented in the Little Theatre at West Brunswick High School, on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25 at 7 p.m.,” Creighton-Negron said.

Vaught said about 15 minutes of the film will be shown and students will also utilize their theater skills to recreate several scenes live onstage.

In the future Vaught would like to pursue her master’s degree at NYU and become a director.

“I dream of building the film industry here,” she said. “I want people to come here to a film festival in Brunswick County.”

Two of Vaught’s documentaries will be aired on ATMC during March: “Colestine” and “Over the Horizon.”

“Colestine” is a 15.5-minute documentary that documents the art of Holden Beach sculptor Nicholas Kerstine. It follows him as he casts sculptures and creates his art.

“Over the Horizon” is a seven-minute documentary about a World War II event off the coast of Carolina Beach. During the documentary Vaught interviews a surviving member of the German U-boat that went down off the coast.

Both documentaries will air in succession at 8 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday on ATMC Channel 3. The documentaries will begin airing on March 1 and continue until March 31.


Rachel Johnsonis a staff writer at The Brunswick Beacon. Reach her at (910) 754-6890 or rjohnson@brunswickbeacon.com.