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Thursday, Jul 24, 2014

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Ohio University-Chillicothe faculty member Stephen Morrow and his brother David.

Photo courtesy of: Stephen Morrow

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The Morrows' submission in the New York Television Film Festival was selected as a finalist.

Photo courtesy of: Stephen Morrow

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Love of writing directs OU-C faculty member to filmmaking


As a three-time participant in the New York Television Festival (NYTVF), Ohio University-Chillicothe faculty member Stephen Morrow is no novice to the field of independent filmmaking.

Last year, Morrow and his brother David entered the NYTVF 2010 Bing “Decisions” Project, where they were chosen as one of 11 finalists with the chance to win $25,000 and a development deal for their web series, “Productive Addictions.”

“To enter the competition my brother and I created a five-minute pilot, which acted as the first episode of our web series. Since the competition was judged by members of the production company Electus and the Microsoft search engine Bing, we decided to create a web series with a technological theme,” said Morrow.

“We got the idea for our web series 'Productive Addictions' as we were driving home from NYTVF last year,” Morrow explained. “The plot is about a man who is addicted to the Internet—he consults his smart phone for almost every decision and lives vicariously through his Twitter and Facebook friends.  When his father offers him a deal to quit the digital world in exchange for his inheritance, he decides to take his web life to the real world.” 

No stranger to the independent film industry, Morrow, an OU-C faculty member in English, and his brother have been creating films and web series for almost 10 years.

“David directs and edits, I act and we co-write the projects together. Neither David nor I studied filmmaking in college; however, we were always more interested in creative pursuits than academic ones,” said Morrow.

Soon after receiving his B.A. in psychology from Ohio Wesleyan University, Morrow realized he saw himself less as a psychologist and more as a writer.

“I was actively writing at the time—exploring fiction and poetry—so I decided to attend Ohio University and get my master’s degree in English,” said Morrow.

“Poetry really isn’t that distant from filmmaking,” he continued. “Both areas take notice of the same basic ideas of attention to language, character and voice.  Some people dismiss poetry as a very ‘serious’ thing, but the truth is there's so much humor in contemporary poetry. It's fantastic.”

Even though the Morrow brothers reached near success as finalists in the 2010 Bing “Decisions” Project, the duo ultimately lost the winning title to the animated web series “Death Row Diet.”

“Although our series didn’t win, my brother and I are still huge fans of the New York Television Festival,” said Morrow. “To be part of the festival, even just on the smaller side of things was truly a rewarding experience.”

The competition the pair entered with “Productive Addictions” was part of a smaller initiative of the NYTVF—with the main event being the Independent Pilot Competition (IPC).  About 50 shows, mostly comedies, make it into the IPC.  Like a film festival, the IPC shows are screened throughout the week and IPC creators get to meet with executives from networks such as Fox and IFC.

As for the brothers’ future filmmaking endeavors, the pair is already writing a pilot for this year’s NYTVF early competition sponsored by Comedy Central.

“We’re excited to get a second chance with Comedy Central this year. Back in 2006, our web pilot 'Political Science' was selected as one of four finalists in the Comedy Central Test Pilots competition. This was a huge accomplishment for us and we hope our pilot this year receives similar or greater recognition.”

And the pair isn’t stopping there. In addition to entering this year’s NYTVF early competition, the duo also plans to enter the festival’s main event—the Independent Pilot Competition.

“What really inspired us to enter the competition this year is the enormous amount of energy surrounding the IPC. In fact, my favorite pilot from the 2010 NYTVF IPC, 'Greg & Donny,' was selected as last year’s winner and was developed into a sitcom by the Independent Film Channel. David and I would love to follow that same path.”