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‘Film Riot’ does the impossible

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Visit to view sketches and filming/production highlights.
Written by | Austin Ulen | For those who ever have wondered how to make a crowbar out of foam or maybe how to set a car on fire without going to jail or who simply ever have seen something in a film and said, “I wish I could make something like that,” Ryan Connolly’s YouTube channel, “Film Riot,” makes it absolutely possible. Not only will the “Film Riot” crew show how it can be done, but they’ll show how to do it on a budget. Started in May 2009 as part of the “Revision3” multi-channel network, which it now no longer is a part of, “Film Riot” gives those who might not have a Hollywood budget the tools to create a film that still should be on the big screen.   The show is hosted by Connolly himself, and the channel has several different themes for its episodes. Most episodes begin with a sketch that incorporates and highlights a certain aspect of pre-production, filming or postproduction. The sketches usually are comedy-driven and cleverly written. Connolly then gives advice and walks viewers through the process of creating the effects seen in the sketch.Other episodes feature the crew reviewing a piece of equipment used in the process of filmmaking. Reviews have included cameras, lighting, rigging, sound equipment, software, online resources and more. Connolly also takes questions via Twitter, Facebook and email and answers them on episodes called “Film Riot Mondays.” They are episodes that tackle tough questions ranging from copyright issues to practical effects vs. CGI effects to how to shoot in extreme weather, all things that might not be covered in a standard episode. “Film Riot” could be called a family affair. Connolly, along with brothers Josh and Tim and sister Emily, all contribute to the channel’s success. The siblings banded together not only to create the “Film Riot” YouTube channel but also Triune Films, an independent film production company. The company has released several short films that also Read more [...]

The force awakens

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the force awakens
'Star Wars' withstands the test of time Written by | Dakota Kessler | Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the biggest movie of last year, has grossed a total of just more than $2 billion. The Force Awakens opened Dec. 18, and in the two months it’s been in theaters, it has completely surpassed some of the top-grossing movies of the century. The movie follows the events of Episode VI and what happened to Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia. We soon realize that a new villain has risen up and formed the New Republic — much like the Empire before it ­— and the Resistance must stand up to them. Kylo Ren is a great villian when he is wearing his mask. I’m not saying that Adam Driver is not a great actor or has a bad looking face, but when he takes the mask off, it makes that scene very lackluster. He looks like a member of a ’90s boy band and comes off like a whiny brat who’s not getting his way. The new heroes, Finn, Rey and Poe Dameron, are awesome additions to the series. Poe Dameron is not in the movie much, but Oscar Isaac brings an incredible energy to the character, and his comedic timing is dead on. He just might be the next Han Solo, and hopefully in Episode VIII, he will be around more. Finn, played by John Boyega, starts his journey in an interesting way. He grows exceptionally through the movie and becomes one of the best characters. Out of all the new characters, the best has to be Rey. Daisy Ridley is lovable and brings a charm to the role, and she is a strong female protagonist. It is cool to see the older characters return once more. It is surprising to see Han Solo and Chewbacca get bigger roles acting as mentors to Finn and Rey.     Princess Leia is now a general in the Resistance, and Carrie Fisher has a commanding presence. And Luke, well, I’m not going to spoil that for those who have not seen it, but he plays a very important role in the movie. You can see J.J. Abrams’ unique movie-making skills shine Read more [...]

Deadpool: Just call him angel of the box office

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Written by | Salvador Gutierrez | Girls were excited for Valentine’s Day, Mexico was excited for the Pope’s visit, Trump was excited for (Insert random situation about immigrants here) but men were excited for something more important than even the NBA all-star game: Deadpool. A very violent, slow-motion, bloody scene with unusual opening credits like “Produced by A[**]hats”, “Directed by an Overpaid Tool”, “Written by the Real Heroes Here” and a memorable song compose the first scene of the new Marvel/FOX production “Deadpool”. With a budget of $58 million dollar (very economical for a super hero movie), 20th century FOX and Marvel released one of the most amazing super hero movies ever. Did I say super-hero? I meant anti-hero because no, Deadpool is not a superhero; that is why you liked it so much. He is just “Different”. But you have to be asking yourself “What makes an anti-hero different from a super-hero? Well, the difference is that an anti-hero can be working on the side of good, but with a tragic flaw, or for reasons that are selfish and not entirely “pure”. Just like the future DC movie “Suicide Squad” in which some villains will turn to the good side to be super-heroes, but only to stay alive (sorry for the spoiler). But for a better explanation I’ll mention some other Marvel anti-heroes: we have Hulk and Black Widow who will betray Captain America joining the side of Iron man in Captain America: Civil War. Did I say Spoiler alert? However, the long wait for Deadpool to be green lighted had it’s benefits. Just in its first weekend, the movie set the record of $135 million for an action movie leaving behind the achievement of “Matrix”, and this is very understandable because the movie has excellent special effects, lines, shoots, and a good story development going back and forward telling the origins of this new character that joins the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And now that I’m talking about the MCU Read more [...]

Theater students attend convention

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theater color

Written by | Alyx Wylie |

Students and faculty of the Amarillo College theater department attended the Texas Education Theatre Association Convention, TheatreFest, in Dallas Jan. 28-31. Theater Arts Instructor Monty Downs, Theater Arts Assistant Professor Ray Newburg and students Driana Bramer, Talia Crist, Tate Detten, and Sarai Dinkens-Agalaba attended the TETA Convention. The students went to auditions to make connections with more than 125 four-year institutions in Texas and other states as well as professional training studios.

“They enjoyed it. They all got a good variety of callbacks to numerous schools,” Downs said. The students also attended workshops on acting, lighting and production.
According to the TETA, Inc. website, TETA was founded in October 1951. TETA uses all resources available to strengthen its teachers and build on existing programs around the state to continue to improve the quality of theater education by offering experienced help, hands-on workshops and idea sharing sessions for teachers new to their schools or for current members who have taught for many years.

TETA offers multiple opportunities for students to attend its conventions with TheatreFest and Summerfest. TheatreFest is in the beginning of the year, and SummerFest is in July in San Marcos.
The convention allows students to network with various schools and meet artists and professional entertainers. The theater department is an institutional member of TETA, so it sends faculty and students each year.

“It is a great way for our graduating students to see a large number of schools in one shot,” Downs said.
The theater department offers several productions each year. The department’s website is

Fantasy author offers new take on classics

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Written | Cassandra Briones In today’s society, fairy tales are what Disney has shown us: stories that are twisted away from the original writings of the Brothers Grimm and various others. Don’t get me wrong; the Disney versions of events are more friendly compared to the Old World stories, but sometimes you need a more realistic telling of those tales. One author I have found who does just that ­— taking all of these classic stories and breathing new life into them — is K.M. Shea. Shea has a multitude of books to her name, all of which are published in the Amazon Kindle store. The first series of books that hooked me on Shea as an author is the “Timeless Fairy Tales.” These books are a reimagining of the classic stories that everyone knows and loves. They stay true to most of the lore and are given due diligence to their origins with a decent smattering of new ideas. It follows into all the books of the series, including Cinderella, Puss in Boots and Rumpelstiltskin. The tale that begins this saga, however, and captured my attention, was the story of Elle, who crashed into the life of a cursed prince. “Beauty and the Beast” is the first book in an ongoing series based in a world where magic is a well known entity. A broken leg is what begins this epic retelling of a story most people know and love. This is the first wayward change among many that set this book apart. Even so, the plot remains the same: servants striving to get their master to fall in love and break a curse. The begrudging friendship — and eventual love — is a mainstay of any version of Beauty and the Beast. As everyone knows, in the Disney adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, the rose plays a major part in the storyline. Here however, it is not as big a plot device. Yes, there are mentions of roses, but it’s more of an ongoing motif. Another peculiar thing that really stands out is the “castle,” which in this case is a chateau with a distinct lack of singing Read more [...]

Palace Coffee Co. | “Be kind. Serve great coffee.”

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The No. 1 coffee house in the nation, Palace Coffee Co., has been living up to its slogan, “Be kind. Serve great coffee,” since July 1, 2011. Upon opening Palace, co-owners Patrick and Krystal Burns set out to show you don’t have to be on the East or West coasts to serve great coffee; it can be done right in the Texas Panhandle. After opening their first location on the square in Canyon, the Burns’ Palace became a big hit for people of all ages. From babies to people in their 70s, everyone has found something to love. The coffee shop’s welcoming, down-to-earth urban atmosphere, kind baristas, wonderful coffee and good music make for a great place to catch up with friends and enjoy an afternoon. The Canyon store also has a cozy back room which serves as a setting for open mic nights and other musical performances. The room also can be rented out for special events. Don’t forget the annual Harry Potter day, which includes special drinks and movie showings and always is a huge hit. On June 12, 2014, Palace created a second location in downtown Amarillo, which the owners refer to as “Palace at Paramount,” to expand their craft of coffee to the business side of the Panhandle and give patrons a chance to relax between meetings at work. The downtown store also has a traveling coffee cart that they bring to catering events. Shortly after opening the second location on Polk Street, Palace competed against a variety of coffee shops around the nation. Palace went up against shops in New York City and Los Angeles to take the title of No. 1. The win provided the business with a ton of local, as well as national, attention. USA Today listed Palace as one of the 10 best coffee houses in America. On July 27, 2015, Palace launched its own private label coffee, and in the next year to year and a half, the owners plan to start running their own coffee roastery. In March, Palace is opening its third location in conjunction with Amarillo National Bank on 34th Read more [...]
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