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‘Oculus’ director thankful for TU roots

23 April 2014 By Annie Sragner, Contributing Writer No Comments

“Oculus” director Mike Flanagan might have ended up being a high school History teacher if it were not for the birth of the Towson Department of Electronic Media and Film during his six years at Towson.

“I’m very fortunate to have been at Towson when the EMF program was born,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan, a Towson alum, released his newest film “Oculus” in U.S. theaters on April 11. It was the second of his two breakout films. His first success, 2011 horror movie “Absentia,” started as just an idea on Kickstarter.

“We set out trying to raise $15,000 in a month, and we ended up making $25,000,” Flanagan said.

By the project’s end, his production ended up raising around $70,000 in total on Kickstarter. This backing made it possible to put the film into production.

His most recent film, “Oculus” takes place in Alabama and features a family who sees disturbing reflections in an antique mirror. The mirror drives the family insane and causes them to go berserk on one another.

Flanagan headed the project as the film’s writer, director and editor.

“When I wrote the script, I had a decade of professional editorial experience, so I was focused on the edit from the first day of writing,” he said. “The beauty for me was that I was able to control every aspect of the movie, but that also put me in a position where I had no one else to blame if the film didn’t work. It created more pressure than if I only wore one or two of those hats.”

Flanagan’s experience at Towson helped him develop the skills needed to create a Hollywood feature film.

“I took intro to film my freshman year and fell in love with it,” Flannagan said. “The faculty was extremely supportive, not only of pursuing [film] as a career, but they were also supportive of getting out there and trying to create independent projects as an undergrad.”

Towson provided the resources and opportunities for Flanagan to realize his dreams and pursue them. From making backyard movies to multi-million dollar films, Flanagan is very appreciative for Towson’s supportive EMF department.

Flanagan said that any Towson students looking to break into the world of film should strive to be bold.

“The biggest piece of advice I could give them is don’t wait,” he said. “Don’t wait for permission to make a movie, don’t wait until you graduate, and don’t wait until you move to a major market like New York or Los Angeles. You have a community of people, you have amazing talent in the theater department for actors. You have amazing talent in the EMF department for all levels of film production. Don’t wait and start testing yourself immediately.”

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