2012-07-27 / People

Neighbors

SMCC film instructor finds passion
By Jack Flagler
Staff Writer


Corey Norman Corey Norman Five years ago, Corey Norman was a young 26-year-old filmmaker who started to hit a wall in his profession. Norman said he was working way too hard as a postproduction manager and online editor at Lone Wolf Studios in South Portland.

Norman, a South Portland resident who lives on Broadway, was successful in his field at a young age. While he was with Lone Wolf, he worked as an associate producer and assistant editor on a number of cable shows and documentaries, including the Emmy-award-winning NOVA special “Bioterror.”

But Norman said the long hours caused him to “start to lose that passion” he developed for filmmaking when he took his first film class his freshman year at Windham High School. Through what Norman called a “happy accident,” he found that passion again as a film professor at Southern Maine Community College.

“I was going to get married and I needed extra money. My former professor asked me to come in and teach a class,” Norman said. “I came in and I taught one class and it was like ‘boom.’ This fire was ignited, because these students were so enthusiastic that it rekindled my love of filmmaking.”

That first basic editing class Norman taught was six years ago. Since then, he has risen from an adjunct faculty member to his current position of full-time instructor and chairman of the Communications and New Media Department at SMCC.

“I will never look back. This is my calling for the rest of my life,” Norman said.

As part of his efforts to help aspiring young filmmakers in the state, Norman also is involved in film festivals in Maine throughout the year. He worked as a program director at the Portland Maine Film Festival last year. He assisted former student Jimmy Crocco to run the Maine Mayhem Festival in Portland that showcased SMCC students’ work in May. He created and currently runs the Maine Chowdah Festival that features work from college students around the state. Most recently, Norman worked as the director of the Maine Student Film and Video Festival in Waterville on July 21.

This was the first year Norman worked as the director of the festival, which has run for 35 years. The festival was created by another SMCC film professor, Huey Coleman, who Norman called “a local area documentary legend that we have here in Maine.”

This year, Norman said the audience filled almost every seat at the Waterville Opera House for the festival. The showing happened on the ninth day of the Maine International Film Festival. Norman said it provided the venue and advertising for the student festival that has helped provide an audience for the students’ films.

This year’s winner, a Mafia film titled “Freedom of the Press,” directed by 17-year-old Jacob Caron of Brewer, caused “a little bit of an uproar,” Norman said.

The festival is open to kindergarten students all the way through seniors in high school, and the submissions are divided into three categories by age group. This year, Norman said some of the parents of the younger children were upset by the winning film’s adult themes, despite Norman’s warnings before the festival that films in the older age group may not be appropriate for younger children.

Despite the controversy, Norman said he was extremely impressed by the grand prize-winning film.

“It was really amazing. These guys, in two weeks time, they made this Mafia film that had production values that they blew a lot of college films I’ve seen out of the water,” Norman said. “I’ve seen college students work on projects for two weeks that don’t even come close to that.”

The goal of the festival, Norman said, is to encourage young filmmakers to continue to pursue film and cultivate their creativity. For that reason, at least a portion of each submitted film is shown, and the young filmmakers participate in a question and answer session with the audience after the screening.

The full-time teaching job and involvement in multiple festivals would seem like a lot for one person to take on, but Norman said his plate isn’t too full because some of his work falls in the summertime when he is not in the classroom. This summer, he is also working on writing and securing funding for a feature film, and he will participate in the 48 Hour Film Project in Portland next month.

The 48 Hour Film Project requires teams to write, shoot, edit and score a short film in just two days. They receive a character, prop, line of dialogue and genre on Friday night. The film has to be completed by Sunday. Norman said he tries to stay involved in some professional filmmaking so he doesn’t fall behind on trends in the industry his students need to know about.

“I’m constantly learning so I can give back. They really keep me on my game. The amount of creativity that comes through is so inspirational, it keeps me so motivated.”

Norman said he hit a wall as a young filmmaker, but it doesn’t sound like there’s any danger of that happening again in the classroom.

Staff Writer Jack Flagler can be reached at 282-4337, ext. 219.

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