The Andy Griffith Show

Hidden Gem

In the summer of 2016, a friend of mine had saved up enough money to make the big move to California. This was something he had planned on doing for a while, and something I always wanted to eventually join in with him on doing. So the night before leaving he had a large going away party, and as he dropped me off at my house that night, he asked me:

“What would you say if I came and picked up you tomorrow, and you came with me?”

Never had I thought before that I could just up and change my life like that, with one swift decision. Of course I had already dropped out of college, and wasn’t really held down to where I was living by a job or anything important, nor was I even doing anything with my life. All of my friends in that area weren’t doing anything with theirs either, so if I was gonna do it, THAT was the time to go for it. So I called various members of my family asking what they would do in my situation, and at the end of the night, I texted my friend to pick me up in the morning.

Dirty Dan

We drove for 18 plus hours. He didn’t have a radio or an iPod jack, so I burnt CD’s to play from my laptop as we were driving. About three hours out of LA we got a flat tire. Thankfully we met a nice guy at a local gas station who knew literally everything about cars, and helped put our doughnut wheel on. We ended up having to drive down a very, very long road in an opposite direction, not able to go over 50 because we were too afraid the thing might pop on us. Eventually we did get a new tire, and made it to LA.

We spend the first day at the beach, just enjoying our successful journey. We slept in our car. The second day we kicked it into high gear, and scrounged the depths of Craigslist for any kind of cheap place to rent. We probably called about thirty different places. Most of them were already taken, or out of our price range. And most of them you actually needed to have a job. So, a couple days in and my friend realized he had made too rash a decision on Dirty Dan2coming here. We had a pretty heated discussion, and he ended up leaving, while I stayed in LA.

I managed to stay for about a month on what little cash I had. Thankfully I had a lot of friends in the area, and crashed between their couches week by week as I waited for CBS to get back to me on a job. I would walk around the city during the day, applying to various theaters and stores around the area. I think I only heard back from two of them. I even auditioned for Groundlings, and got accepted into their program. Of course, it’s $500 just for the first twelve classes, so I never pursued that. Eventually I ran short on money, and I started feeling really shitty having to rely on my friends for a place to keep my stuff and my body to sleep. So I called up my grandma, and told her I needed to come home.

The day before I left I decided to go to the LA Zoo, just to really enjoy myself at least one more time while I had the chance. It was a very peaceful and relaxing experience, one that reminded me of all the good times I had as a child. I’ve always loved animals, but something about this day really helped solidify that for me. Because it’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of finances, or fighting to make a life that in the end, you might not really want. Especially when all that matters is if you’re happy.


So my grandma drove ALL the way down to California, just to pick me up from Hollywood Blvd. We stayed in a hotel that night, then drove all the way back to Washington the next. I don’t think there’s anybody in my life I could ever love more than my grandmother.

Now I’ve been living with her for the past ten months in a very small town out in the middle of nowhere. We’ve got a cat, and Netflix, and a lot of home cooked meals that I hadn’t had in the last seven years. I still get pretty anxious every now and then, when I realize just how far I am from what I want to be doing with my life, and all of the people I actually know and want to work with. Everyone in this town is either in high school, or an old lady. Sometimes I feel like this is some sort of prison, like I’m meant to be here to learn something. And other times I think it’s actually paradise.

Every night for a while now, my grandma and I have been watching The Andy Griffith show on Netflix while we eat dinner. It all started because I was whistling the theme song one day, and my grandma asked if I had ever seen the show. I told her I had no idea what she was talking about, and then it turned out this tune I had always known was actually from a very old television show. So we decided to watch it.

Andy Griffith

It’s impossible not to fall in love with this show.
At first I thought the black and white was going to put me off, because as a child I had always related that to boring old silent films or stupid grown-up stuff. But as I watched, episode after episode, I quickly became enamored with the world of Mayberry.

The titular Andy Griffith is the perfect father we always wanted. Every episode involves him and whatever shenanigans the townsfolk get into, usually instigated by his deputy Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts), who happened to be a very close friend with Andy in real life.

This chemistry is very, very evident from start to finish. The two play off of each other better than most people do in actual conversation. They exemplify the meaning of “best friends”, something I’ve only seen between a few of the people I know. In fact, I began seeing a lot of myself and that friend who I went to LA with in Andy and Barney.

And that’s what the show is really all about: being real, honest living people. It’s about a time where you didn’t have to lock your doors, or watch your children as they played. You didn’t have to worry about living couch to couch, getting rent, or finding a job, because the guy down the street could pay you ten bucks just to mow his lawn. It wasn’t illegal to start a lemonade stand in front of your house, or socially awkward to just say hello to a neighbor.the-andy-griffith-show

It seems to me that with the growing connection and necessity of technology, we’ve slowly become less and less open with our own actual lives. While we’ll gladly spread our faces around across the internet, most people are too afraid to give a friendly hello to a random stranger across the street.

Almost every episode of the Andy Griffith Show has taught me something valuable. Whether or not it was something I already knew is irrelevant, the fact that these values can be solidified in show form so elegantly is where the magic comes from. Just watching the first season of the show, I suddenly had an entirely new outlook on the way life works. I’ve become a lot more humble, and honest, and real about myself.

I respect things more, and can genuinely find value in just sitting and watching the birds. That’s something that a lot of people seem to forget.

It’s true that we’re not here forever, but there’s no need to rush to the finish line.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta sit back and look. Just look. That’s all.
Just look, and think about who you are, or how you might affect other people.
Because that’s not something that’s taught in school, not even in college.

Unless you take some high ranking philosophy classes of course.

I honestly believe that everyone should be made to watch The Andy Griffith Show. At least as a kid, if not moreso as an adult.
You’ll learn something different depending on your age.

It’s kind of funny actually, as the show gets on towards the last few seasons it slowly looses its “down home” charm. It becomes more of a sitcom around season 7, and changes from black and white into color.
It still has some occasional winning episodes after that, but for the majority it really is a downhill slope. It’s probably because they got rid of Don Knotts.
His entire character is written off after season 7. There are a few golden episodes later on where he does come back, but they just make you miss the guy even more.

It’s like the producers tried to make it into something more than it already was, maybe to appeal to a larger audience perhaps? They started getting goofy plots, and wacky sitcom situations. There was even one where they literally “Go to Hollywood”.

Much like my experience in going to Hollywood.

But that’s the funny thing about it. That show was already fine where it was.
Some of the best episodes of that show are the earlier black and white ones, the ones that had actual character, and charm.

There was no need to change it.

I think this entire country could learn a lot from watching Andy Griffith.

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Filmography – The University (2010-2011)

“So that’s it huh? You’re just gonna let the bullies win? Give up? Really? Well I’m not gonna sit here, let them make fun of us, play beer pong, and get women with their flat bills while they’re stealing people’s scooters, okay?”

  • Michael Bunker as Colt Rivers

          The University began in the Fall of my freshman year at Central Washington University. I was working at a local television station at the time, and had asked if it would be okay for me to create my own content for the channel. Seeing as how I was new at the school, I didn’t really know any of the actors or other film students, so I decided to just cast some of my closest friends at the time.

BunkThe first episode was filmed using one of the library’s older tape-based cameras, and had to be imported through an actual tape capturing system. We ended up filming the majority of this pilot in and around the library itself, mainly because I didn’t feel comfortable enough going far with all of the equipment. I’m pretty sure we were the reason that the library now has a form you need to fill out to record inside.

            After filming the pilot and putting it on air (and online), we were all pretty excited to keep the show going. That week I asked my mom if she could get me a camera for a pre-birthday present, and amazingly I got one! Nothing fancy mind you, but the fact that it said HD on the side of it was all I cared about. And it was digital. That meant I didn’t have to spend time just at work editing or filming the show, we could do this whenever, and wherever.

So naturally I started coming up with different plots and ways we could use more varying locations around the campus and town. The second episode we traveled to Trent’s house to use as Mrs. Teapot’s abode. Trent was one of the actors who, if you couldn’t guess, played the Dean’s “Assistant Trent”. This wasn’t the only time we used our own names within the show.

            In the third episode, Colt Rivers has a professor in one of his classes named Mr. Bunker, an homage of sorts to the actors actual last name. We did it again as a joke in Episode Four for Ms. McGehee as well.

Four

It was this fourth episode that really started getting us into the swing of things. I actually got to use one of the Theatre Department’s auditoriums to hold a fake “Man of the Year” competition. Despite only having fifteen or so people there, this was still the biggest crowd we could (and I believe ever would) achieve.

       By Episode Five everything ran like clockwork. The actors knew who the characters were, I was getting better at writing, framing shots and editing, and finding music to fit was getting easier and easier. We had come up with a pretty solid process to pump these things out, and people were starting to expect this as an actual thing. I even had a friend who was also interested in filmmaking from highschool write up the script for Episode Six!

        It wasn’t until Episode Seven that I realized I was editing and filming things completely the wrong way. I started to notice that we weren’t really getting reactions to things, or showing them in opposite shots; I was only focusing on filming the line that was being said. So I started to hone in more on this, and began thinking about what else I might have been doing wrong. This was also the episode where I finally found an intro sequence that I felt fit the show perfectly.

Old Title

We had successfully pumped out three 24 minute episodes Winter quarter, which is absolutely impressive considering we had classes on top of that. Fall quarter we had made four episodes, but those weren’t nearly as long, nor had we gotten the formula down yet. So, approaching our final freshman quarter of Spring, we decided we would go all out on just making a two-part finale.

         It was very sad to see the show come to an end. I wanted to try to get everyone who had been in it before to at least make somewhat of an appearance during these final two episodes, just to give us all some closure.

IMG_6346


         The following year we all decided we would be too busy with classwork to try and accomplish something of this magnitude again. So I still kept in touch with a lot of the cast, but we all eventually did go our separate ways. Every now and then I would show the show off to different people I’d meet the following year. My girlfriend at the time was in the theatre department, and we suggested that perhaps I could try to do it all again.

         So, somewhere mid Fall quarter of my sophomore year, we tried to start up a second season of The University. The plot was set four years after the events of the first season. It was a brand new cast, full of all incoming freshman who were attending the same University, Ellensburg School of Technology and Dance (ESTD).

We had a lot of fun, and managed to make about four episodes before things got out of hand. I can’t remember one way or another what triggered our show to end. It was most likely from the multiple break ups between different cast members. Needless to say, the overall quality and content of this second season had clearly benefited from me creating the first one.

All in all, this was a very fun ride, and I learned almost everything I know about film making through doing this process. I’ve since taken a lot of acting classes, and created a lot more, better stuff, but we all start somewhere. This was a process that I encourage any would-be creator to go for! Whether you’ve got a television station to run your show or not, the internet is always a thing. Most people don’t watch TV anymore anyways. You’d be amazed what you can learn by just going for it.

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