Media Arts & Franklin Student Shoots Original Film With Wendell Pierce
NOCCA Media Arts & Benjamin Franklin Student Phillip Youmans and native New Orleanian and star Wendell Pierce
The typical icebreaker question for any student returning to school is, “So, what did you do over the summer?” Many might say that they slept, hung out with friends, went to the movies—the basic stuff. But this year, one NOCCA and Benjamin Franklin student can answer, “Oh, I worked with Wendell Pierce creating my first feature film.” That student is Phillip Youmans.
During the summer of 2017, Youmans, a Level IV NOCCA Media Arts and Benjamin Franklin High School student, began working on his first feature film. In the process, he achieved the goal of his dreams: working with actor and NOCCA/Franklin alum Wendell Pierce.
Youmans was able to cast Pierce in his film, “The Glory,” by taking the initiative to ask the accomplished actor if he would be interested. Youmans also benefitted from some good old-fashioned luck.
“I was at work at Morning Call, and I was telling someone about my film,” says Youmans. “Then, that person put me in contact with Wendell. I sent him a copy of the script of ‘The Glory’ and he was interested in the work.”
“The Glory,” an original concept and script by Youmans, tells the story of a son who commits a heinous crime and the events that follow when a mother has to deal with the reality of the conflict. Pierce plays the role of the Reverend Tillman, who is the mayoral figure of the small town in the movie.
From August 26-27, Pierce and the cast and crew of “The Glory” filmed 25 pages of script—an unbelievable amount of work to shoot in such a short time.
Though the project might have been more modest than some that Pierce is known for, Youmans praised the actor’s unwavering dedication. “Wendell was very professional on set, and he set the atmosphere,” Youmans said. “If someone was not being professional, he called them out on it. He took shooting for a 17-year-old seriously.”
The young filmmaker said that Pierce was impressed with Youmans’ drive to get shooting done on such a short schedule. “Wendell was grateful for my ability to complete his portion of the project in just two days,” Youmans said. “After we were finished filming, he texted me days later and said that he hopes to work with me on another project.”
Before filming “The Glory,” Pierce and Youmans learned that they came from very similar backgrounds. Both artists were born and raised in New Orleans, and both attended Ben Franklin and NOCCA. While Youmans is currently enrolled in NOCCA’s Media Arts department, Pierce is a 1981 alumnus of the Drama department. Over the years, the actor has given back to his alma maters by taking a serious interest in student-driven work.
After producing “The Glory,” Youmans hopes to submit the film to various festivals and create more films with companies that are intrigued by his work. Youmans is extremely interested in depicting narratives from the perspective of African Americans in the South, which he says is not often represented in Hollywood.