Honors Northeast wraps filming on new Mary Kay movie
Shaky cams, missed script deadlines, public objections to filming, stepped-on cable prongs, a lack of additional cash infusions, quarreling, inadequate time frames, actor resignations, poor sound—all these and more tend to rattle and decimate most aspiring film productions in the United States. However, the scholars of Honors Northeast have returned from a Texas film site, knowing that their late hours, research, and experience acting again have come together, to produce the hours of footage needed for another original film. This year’s subject is another Texas legend—the story of Mary Kay, the famous cosmetics queen. Conference organizers have scheduled an early preview of this film for this October at the Walter Webb Society meeting in Austin Texas. The Webb Society is the collegiate axillary of the Texas State Historical Society.
Presidential Scholar, Warren Wu will work on the production of the footage for a premiere of the film in February.
As in past years, the honors film experience at NTCC would have been impossible without the help of a Whatley Enhancement Grant, administrative flexibility and improvisation at NTCC, and the Friends of Honors Northeast.
This year’s Director, Brenda Godoy, navigated through all 61 scenes of the Mary Kay script in Fort Worth with sequencing help from Unit Production Director, Matthew Chambers, and docket messengers like Leivy Zuniga. Godoy, a recent winner of the Dr. Mary Hood, and Eckman Awards, commanded universal respect, and worked tirelessly, blending scenes with actors, making quick decisions on the basis of her knowledge of time-limits, makeover possibilities, casting, and script slug lines.
Sophomore cinematographers, Adriana Rodriguez and Rachel Jordan greatly enhanced the film experience. Their ideas on blocking (the movement in a scene) and cross-cutting (back-and-forth camera imaging) helped the filming to proceed in a careful, yet efficient manner.
The star this year is the newly named Texas Heritage National Bank Scholar, Cassidy Watkins. She was also the producer of last year’s film. As “Mary Kay,” Watkins brought large receptacles of carefully selected outfits, often obtained from thrift stores, and cosmetics to Fort Worth. She evoked a Mary Kay who possessed a quiet inner strength, rectitude, and steady ambition.
“NTCC sophomore scholars were a key part of this year’s film effort” noted Dr. Andrew Yox, Honors Director. “They not only applied their experience from last year’s effort, they asked me if they could help mentor the freshmen to assume their roles in the future!”
The film depended on the contributions of many. Karsen Nelson served as Costume Director. The effort was beholden to Professor Martin Holden of the NTCC theatre department who allowed the actors of Honors Northeast to borrow several outfits, and period hats. Alicia Cantrell was the Director of Makeup, and Yaritza Romero served as Director of Props.
Two teams of student researchers helped produce the story line. The first, which visited Mary Kay headquarters during NTCC’s last spring break, also conducted research at Southern Methodist University. They were (left to right shown below): William Fox, Yami Zuniga, Alicia Cantrell, Leivy Zuniga, and Heath Dyal.
The second honors team worked for three successive days, using the libraries of the University of North Texas, and Texas Woman’s University in Denton. This group included incoming members of Honors Northeast: Matthew Chambers, Hannah Dickson, Jazmin Garcia, Karina Pena and Laura Ross.
The finished script emphasized the struggles of Mary Kay, minimizing her dogmatism, and throwing fresh light on how perfectly her last two husbands (both of whom died while married to Mary Kay) fit into her over all business schemes. It spotlights a woman who at one time dead-ended as a virtual cripple and divorcee, without a degree, attempting to raise three children on her own. It includes an expansive look at Mary Kay’s time-management fanaticism, the family dynamic that supported the Mary Kay Corporation’s dramatic expansion, and the development of antagonists who kept the cosmetics CEO in constant turmoil.
Every Honors Northeast student who attended the Fort Worth filming played at least one part in the drama. Besides those mentioned above, Alicia Cantrell and Madison Blood played the parts of Dorothy, and Hattie, two Houston-based Mary Kay antagonists.
Mary Kay’s children, who all helped make the Mary Kay Corporation—Ben, Marylyn, and Richard—were played by Matthew Chambers, Karson Nelson, and Jordan Whelchel. Sebastian Martinez played the part of two Mary Kay husbands, George Hallenbach, and Mel Ash. Rhylie Anderson played the Scott and White physician who once told Mary Kay she would never walk again, and Leivy Zuniga played Ova Spoonamore, who gave Mary Kay her cream formula, only to break the agreement, selling out to Kay’s competitor, Beauty Control.
The Honors Northeast group filmed at several Fort Worth B&Bs as well as the campus of Northeast Texas Community College and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Mount Pleasant.
The key film sites in Fort Worth were the Rosen House, The Texas White House, the Azalea Plantation House, and Miss Molly’s Hotel.
The group was indebted to Jo’s Coffee in downtown Mount Pleasant, and the East Texas Journal published by Hudson Old, for rehearsal spaces.
Article Submitted by Dr. Andrew Yox, Honors Director