High School Filmmaker Back On The Baylor Campus

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Rance Collins shooting on the set of his 2004 film, "Murder at the Riverside Hotel."
June 29, 2005

by Lori Fogleman (254) 710-6275 or cell (254) 709-5959

He's only 16 years old, but age is no roadblock for Bynum High School senior Rance Collins, who is already at work this summer on his fourth feature film.

"The 'If' Girl," an original screwball comedy written, produced, directed and edited by Collins, will make its public premiere at 8 p.m. July 15-16 in Jones Theater in the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center on the Baylor University campus. Admission is $2.

Collins and his cast - his film credits 26 young actors - will be available to meet with the media from 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday, June 30, while shooting at Hooper-Schaefer. Collins will have VHS clip reels for reporters of scenes from "The 'If' Girl."

In addition, Collins and a few cast members will be making an appearance at a University for Young People gathering at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Jones Theater at Hooper-Schaefer.

With a comedic style reminiscent of directors Frank Capra and Preston Sturges, Collins's latest screenplay focuses on Lola Smythe, a famous 1930s Hollywood actress who "struggles to achieve motherhood while handling her psychotic family." The young filmmaker (and classic film buff who can reel off every Oscar-winning Best Picture in order) was inspired by some of his favorite screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s, such as "It Happened One Night" (1934), "Bringing Up Baby" (1938) and "The Lady Eve" (1941).

Collins even paid homage to his favorite stars when carefully naming his characters.

"I combined the names of some of my favorite movie actors from the 30s and 40s," Collins said. "For example, the leading man is 'John Tracy,' which is a combination of John Barrymore and Spencer Tracy, and there's a reporter in my film named Torchy Gumm. 'Torchy' came 'Torchy Blane,' the name of the reporter in the old movie series, and 'Gumm' came from Ethel Gumm, who was better known as Judy Garland."

Collins and his cast began shooting "The 'If' Girl" on June 6 at locations in Waco, Hillsboro and on the Baylor campus. They expect to wrap the film on July 3.

The movie, like each of his previous films, is the culmination of Collins's participation in Baylor's University for Young People (UYP), a summer enrichment program of interdisciplinary courses and camps for elementary through high school students. For the past two years, Collins has been polishing his directing skills with the assistance of Daniel Inouye, a Baylor student pursuing his master's degree in the department of theater arts.

Collins's aspirations as a filmmaker began when he took an "i-Movies" course through UYP, which eventually led to his first summer internship in 2002 with KWBU Public Television. So far Collins's résumé includes his debut film project, an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's classic "Rebecca;" a sequel called "Mrs. de Winter;" and the mystery/comedy, "Murder at the Riverside Hotel."

Last summer, Collins and his cast of 15 actors spent the month of June on the Baylor campus, shooting Collins's 150-page screenplay. Set in the 1930s, "Murder at the Riverside Hotel" featured an "on-the-outs" detective couple, who are forced to work together when a man turns up dead at a secluded hotel. In addition to shooting at Baylor's Victorian-style Harrington House, Collins produced newsreels with his father, Hillsboro author Ace Collins, and used classic radio programs like "The Guiding Light" and "Suspense" to create an authentic 1930s atmosphere for his whodunit.

Collins also continues to write, shoot, edit and co-star in "The Five of Us," a "Friends"-like situation comedy taped at his family's home in Hillsboro. The program grew out of one of his internship projects with KWBU-TV and now airs six to eight times per month on Dallas Community Television (DCTV).

Collins is the son of Ace and Kathy Collins of Hillsboro. He is an honor student at Bynum High School, where he participates in basketball and is a two-time All-Star Cast member in One Act Play. He hopes to attend Baylor, TCU or Arkansas to study film.

For more information, contact Collins at home (254) 582-9931 or mobile (254) 644-1786.

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