By Jennifer Brouner
By the age of six, Scott Murphy showed an interest in filmmaking. When Murphy’s first grade teacher asked the students to write a report about a famous person, most of his classmates wrote about former presidents. Murphy wrote about Steven Spielberg. By the eighth grade, Murphy had snagged his father’s video camera and began to look through its lens with the intent of learning how to make and edit films.
He knew at the start of high school that filmmaking was not the cheapest of hobbies, so to ensure that he would be able to make his dreams a reality, Murphy began to save every penny he earned to fuel his growing passion.
By the time Murphy entered into his freshman year of college, he spent all of his savings to purchase top-notch video equipment. He has since used this video equipment to make many award-winning videos, two of which, each lasting around three minutes, have been used by HBO to promote the show Entourage.
At the end of his junior year of college, Murphy began to think about undertaking a larger film project—one that might take an entire year to produce.
Early in 2010, Murphy presented his idea for creating a music video for the local Knoxville band The Dirty Guv’nahs to Dr. Bob Legg, Associate Professor of Journalism & Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee and a national award-winning documentary filmmaker. “I knew from my first meeting with Scott that he was going to be something special,” says Legg. “Scott has always had several projects going. No other student was constantly sending me scripts to peruse or stopping by to talk about a new idea that was in the works.” Legg offered Murphy an independent study class—one professor, one student—so that Murphy could devote an entire semester’s course to creating his music video for The Dirty Guv’nahs.
Murphy began work on his project in early March 2010 and continued to work on the project every day until its completion in late November 2010. Murphy recalls his experiences by saying, “There is no easy phase of production. You’re always working. There’s always something you can be doing.”
From calling venues and arranging schedules to shooting and editing film, even to getting insurance for $1 million to cover a weekend filming at the Bristol Motor Speedway—Scott Murphy saw it all. He experienced the frustrations and the joys of filmmaking and loved every minute of it.
“Getting to film at Bristol was by far the biggest hurdle in the production process,” says Murphy. It took three months for Murphy and his production company to secure the Bristol Motor Speedway as a filming location. In order for Murphy to film there, the track would have to shut down entirely for a day to accommodate the production of the video. However, one of the Motor Speedway’s stipulations was that Murphy and his production crew had to acquire an insurance policy covering up to $1 million of damages.
Bristol contacted the production crew on Tuesday, October 26, informing them that the only day available for filming at the track was that Friday, October 29. Murphy and his production crew were in a panic to find an insurance company that would supply three college-aged kids with $1 million insurance coverage for a weekend spent on a NASCAR track. On Thursday morning, after visiting four insurance companies in Knoxville with no luck, Murphy and his production company were desperate.
All hope seemed lost, but at the last moment, Murphy and his crew found one company that would insure them. Murphy contacted Bristol on Thursday afternoon to inform them that he had the required insurance coverage to film on Friday. “It was just down to the last second we could do it,” says Murphy. He shot the video’s crucial sequences the next day at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
In the future, Murphy says, “I want to direct feature films. This whole thing was some of the best real-world work experience that I could receive because I was doing what I will be doing after school. It was a great opportunity for me to get my foot in the door as a 21-year-old kid.”
The music video “Baby We Were Young” was released on November 30, 2010 by Badland Pictures, a production company that was founded by Murphy. The music video won the Office of Research Top Undergraduate Research Award at UT’s 2011 Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EURēCA). The prizes Murphy won amounted to nearly $600, which he immediately spent to fund his next filming project, which was part of a second independent study that he worked on in the spring of 2011.
When reflecting on college as a whole, Murphy especially values his independent study classes. “It’s probably one of the most rewarding things that I did throughout my college experience,” he says. Legg comments on the video saying, “Beginning as an exploration of the impacts of social media, the finished product transcended a simple study and became a viral Internet phenomenon.”
Legg foresees Murphy having much Hollywood success in the not-too-distant future. “When people like Scott pass through our doors, I make sure to keep my cell phone charged and close at hand,” says Legg. Murphy plans to move to Los Angeles within the next two years and if Legg is right about him, we will be seeing a lot more of his films in the years to come.
His music video can be viewed below.