Former professor releases film

Dustin Morrow isn’t just a former Temple professor. He’s a writer, director, editor, filmmaker, music lover and self-proclaimed “demon on the karaoke stage.”

His love of music, passion for film and desire to create a “realist” musical led to his most recent feature film “Everything Went Down,” which will be shown in Annenberg Hall’s TV Studio 1 at 7 p.m. on Sept. 19.

From 2004 to 2011, Morrow taught TV production, editing, script writing and web media within the media studies and production department at Temple.

“I miss the Temple students,” Morrow said. “They were awesome, unpretentious, worked hard and had good attitudes about being in those classes. My favorite part about teaching is helping students put together their films, programs or whatever it is they’re trying to produce.”

Morrow is in his third year of teaching at Portland State University in Portland, Ore. He said he was mainly attracted to Portland State for the opportunity to teach film history and film studies courses.

“I majored in cinema at the University of Iowa, so I’ve always been more of a film guy,” Morrow said. “Therefore, the department at Portland State is a slightly better fit for me.”

The location also appeals to Morrow, who said he always wanted to live in the Pacific Northwest.

Morrow has written and directed dozens of short films. “Everything Went Down” is his third feature-length film. Morrow drew his inspiration for the style of this film from the Irish musical “Once.” Though he grew up in Illinois, Morrow said Ireland holds a special place in his heart because of his Irish ancestry and love for Dublin, where he has taught several summer study abroad programs.

“I wanted to create what I call a ‘realist’ musical to show that musicals don’t have to be Morrow said. “They can still feel like an independent, gritty, low-budget movie. You won’t find people tap dancing along the street or breaking out into song. When they’re playing music, it’s because that is what’s actually happening in the story.”

“Everything Went Down” is about a young college professor who falls into a deep depression after his wife dies. He discovers the music of a young, frustrated singer-songwriter, who is on the verge of giving up her music career because she’s having a tough time making a living off of it. Music brings the two together and they form a deep relationship. He helps her realize that playing music is its own reward, and becoming rich and famous isn’t what it’s all about. She helps bring him back to life.

Morrow said he’s a big believer in the powerful healing effects that music can have on people. Ultimately, that’s what his film is about.

“There has been a lot of defunding by the government of music therapy and education programs,” Morrow said. “It’s a shame, because research has shown that music engages the emotions and the brain in a way that no other art does.” While at Temple, Morrow worked with the Arts and Quality of Life Research Center at the Boyer College of Music and Dance. This program ran and helped fund music therapy programs for kids living in Philadelphia.

Morrow will be in attendance at the TUTV screening. He hopes that after watching his film, people will come to recognize the therapeutic value of music.

Paul Gluck, general manager of TUTV, said he hopes this screening will initiate a meaningful discussion with the audience members and Morrow about the healing power of music, and possibly encourage the Temple community to get more involved in music therapy.

Noah Drew and Kate Tucker are the two lead actors starring in this film. Drew is a former Temple graduate student whom Morrow met while teaching a TV directing course at Temple. Tucker, who plays the role of the struggling musician, is a recording artist who’s been featured on a Starbucks playlist.

This film, like most of his others, was mostly self-funded, in addition to a boost from Kickstarter.

“The most difficult part of making this film was that it was low-budget. But through people donating their time and the various companies that donated equipment and locations, it came together successfully,” Morrow said.

This film has been playing in film festivals since February and will be until early spring 2014. Afterward, it will be available through Netflix, Video On Demand, iTunes and other online sources.

Mary Salisbury can be reached at mary.salisbury@temple.edu.

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