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.

tipnumber4

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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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Back to Filmography

An Open Letter to CWU

Hey there.

My name is Sean Robert McGehee. I was born September 3rd, 1991.

I enrolled for college at Central Washington University in the fall of 2010. That summer before my freshman year, I sent out various emails to different job opportunities, hoping to land any kind of film related jobs that might have been around campus. Scouring through the various and slightly dated website links, I did end up landing an interview with an older guy by the name of Rick.

Rick worked in the library, and used to film television programs for PBS. I still remember walking into his office holding a brown briefcase I bought at Value Village, just so I could have something to carry all my fancy “high school film awards” inside of. We started the interview off by shaking hands, and then showing off some of the videos I had made in the past. He was absolutely astounded.
We never did get to the fancy awards, because before I knew it the interview was over, and I already had the job.

Almost instantly I became the new manager for Central Washington University’s grand opening of “Channel 14”.  I had no idea what I was doing, or what I had gotten myself into, but Rick just laughed along and showed me the ropes.
It actually ended up being a  strange back-step from high school where all of our film equipment was digital; but here at Central, they were still shooting basketball games with expensive “tape technology”.

I remember trying not to comment when Rick was telling me about the price they had to pay for all of these outdated cameras they were still using. I felt bad, but also like, I had the job of my dreams so I didn’t care how old the equipment was.

A couple weeks in and I had already started getting the hang of managing the station. It wasn’t anything difficult of course, as there wasn’t really a “station” to begin with.
All that the channel was running at the time was stock footage of last years basketball game, or whatever random videos Rick could get a hold of from the Film Department.
That was the other thing I started to notice: that the film department and Rick didn’t seem to get along too much.
I didn’t know why at the time, and I certainly wasn’t going to ask. In fact I still don’t really know the exact reason that sparked it, but I think I can make a few good guesses after what I’ve learned from my five years at attending CWU.

Starving for content for the newly opened Channel 14, I proposed the idea that maybe I could go out and actually make my own TV show. Rick being Rick, he was super thrilled of the idea and lent me a camera and tripod for the day.
I decided to call up my friends, and told them about the opportunity we had.
That like,

“Hey, we could make our own fucking TV show right now! Who’s down?”

And that’s how it all started, just like that. I quickly began writing up several scripts, creating the characters and ideas for different episodes, all from my one-person dorm room in Carmody Munro. Carmody was the hall where the freshest of freshman were put: the people who didn’t know what they were doing with their lives, nor had a declared major.

Which is ironic, because back then I knew a whole lot more about what I wanted in life than I certainly do now.

Final_Large

The University!

That was the name of our show. Simple, and to the point. A show about kids coming to college and just doing what they do:
goofing off and fighting bullies.

That picture is actually a poster that one of the cast members (Jorie Jones) and I had elegantly designed, and we had planned on plastering them all around campus. We ended up printing about 40 copies, only to find out that the school had a pretty strict rule against posters.

Unless it was for an upcoming event or something, you couldn’t just display whatever you wanted…

So naturally we put them up all over the school anyways.

It took about a week or so before they were all torn down. An old high school friend in the film department told me that the film kids were taking bets on how long I would go before I lost my drive to create.

I eventually got my own camera thanks to my mother, and could finally edit the show from my own dorm room digitally. Things slowly got better and better as far as the show’s quality was concerned.
I remember one night coming back from class, and the janitor at my dorm stopped me and shook my hand. He said that he saw me on TV the other night, and that he absolutely loved the show. He said that I should keep it up.

I was ecstatic.
The same thing started happening to all of my friends when they went around town.

“Some guy at Taco Bell called me Colt Rivers!”

That was my friend Michael Bunker, who played the lead in the show. It was an amazing time for all of us!
Slowly, word caught on that there was something genuinely interesting to watch on local television. You know, besides the looping footage of last year’s basketball game.

We would have premiere nights in Kamola Hall. We filled up the random rec-room couches and comfy chairs with tens of people, all there just to watch themselves or their friends on actual television.
People were coming together, just to watch something that the students were creating, for the university.

“The University”. The title never fails to impress me.

We ended up making nine whole episodes, each one better than the last. As the show went on, our skills in acting, filming, editing, even communicating with each other as friends and people improved.
In fact, I think they improved on a level that I never saw from any of my acting classes. We were gaining real world experience by doing exactly what we wanted to do: making real world content.

Every Winter quarter the school used to hold a “48 Hour Film Slam” competition. That meant you got to form your own group, and had two days to make a short video. Naturally I was eager to try this out my freshman year.
The process of getting a team enrolled proved to be quite a frustrating one, as you needed to have 1 legitimate Theatre Major in your group, and 1 legitimate Film Major. Being a freshman, I didn’t know any of the film students yet, and of course I couldn’t apply to be in the department.
So what ended up happening was pretty funny actually:
Bunker and I (the lead from the show), ended up walking into a random film class before they started lecturing. We gave a cute little speech about how we needed a film major, even if somebody could just sign the paperwork if possible.
Lucky for us we found a decent enough chap to do that, a senior who had decided not to participate that year anyways.

We made the film, and I ended up winning “Best Screenplay” that year for our short video titled, “Wasteland Warriors”.

I actually got to go onto the department’s news channel, and talk about my process in making the film. It’s pretty funny watching it now, seeing my awkward freshman self sitting in that big old jacket they gave me. I swear I don’t remember my voice being that high.

Anyways, as the year went on we kept making the show. We would pump out two episodes a quarter, each trying to hit around the 22 minute mark.

As the two part finale episode came to a close near July, I found myself both relieved to be done, but also sad that it had to end. We all agreed that in the following years, we probably wouldn’t have enough time outside of class, work, or jobs to do the same thing again, so we just let the show be what it was.

We let it end.

hang out room pic

The following year, Rick told me that Channel 14 was going to be shut down.
Apparently the Communications Department were the ones who were meant to be in control of it this entire time, and they felt it necessary to pull the plug.
They said it wasn’t ready for content just yet…

Yeah, and I’m sure this had nothing to do with that secret feud between them and Rick.

Needless to say, I was now out of a job.

I tried to connect with the Comm department, hoping to find who was taking over and possibly see if they wanted me to be a part of its re-opening. Having run it before, surely that would be something they would be interested in doing.

As I walked through Bouillon Hall for the first time, (the home of the film and communications departments), I instantly understood where Rick was coming from:

Every person or professor I tried to talk to about my ideas was either too busy to be bothered by a sophomore, or pushed me along onto somebody else.
It seemed to me at the time that if you weren’t in the major, you didn’t seem to be anybody.
I eventually did get in contact with a new professor, guy by the name of John I believe. He had moved into the Film Department just that year, and was eventually going to take over as the head of the whole thing.
We sat down for a meeting and discussed the future of “Channel 14”.

Everything he said felt like an attempt to put me off track, like perhaps even he didn’t know what was going on with the future of the channel.
I asked if they were hiring people to run it. He told me,
“You know, maybe sometime down the road that might be a thing that can happen.”

Maybe tomorrow.

That was the usual vibe I would get from the film department back then. Especially when trying to get into a meeting with their department head. Nobody ever seemed quite too sure of anything back in those days really.

Eventually, many months later into my sophomore year, I find out that the channel was finally being re-opened. They wanted to start running the Film Department’s news broadcast class. I think it was the same one I got interviewed on for winning Best Screenplay the year prior.

“Great!” I thought.
This is exactly what the channel should be used for: student created content.
I managed to track down name after name, eventually discovering that there was already a small niche of senior students put in charge of planning this “new” station.
Needless to say, I was never called or emailed about this group being formed, let alone that the channel was starting up again.
Eventually I found out they had meetings every week or so in Boullion, so for a few of these weeks I actually got to sit in on their meetings.

These meetings seemed to consist of 80% gossip.
They talked about which projects they were doing in class, which professors they didn’t like, what happened at the last party, and only lastly: what things they were going to do with the channel.
I tried to tell them about my show, and how I had actually ran Channel 14 the year prior. They seemed pretty nerved that I was even there, or wanted to be a part of this. I don’t know if it was just because they didn’t know me, or maybe that I was a sophomore, or a non-major, or what…

I honestly felt like a piece of shit every time I tried to talk to them. I don’t think they realized at the time just how young I was, or how they affected me, and I don’t want any of them to think that I’m still bitter about this now. Because I’m not, I just wanted to tell this story as truthfully as I remember it.

They did however say that they wanted to run my old show!
So that was cool. Also, that way there would at least be something new to add to the loops of basketball footage from last year.
(That’s called a callback.)

So, I gave them all the burnt discs that Rick and I had saved from the year prior,
but I never did hear word back from them whether or not the show actually re-aired.
To be honest, I kind of stopped going to the meetings, because frankly I didn’t feel like they wanted me to be there, and it wasn’t really a productive environment.

As far as I know, even to this day SIX YEARS after The University first ran on Channel 14, Central Washington has yet to do anything with that station.
Now there it sits, in boring loops, waiting for some lucky and ambitious kid like I was to come around and create their own show.
But I honestly wonder if they would ever let something like that happen again.

I know I might seem to be a little too hard on the department, and trust me, “The University” isn’t exactly the best show in the world. But the entire reason that it wasn’t shot as well as it could have been, or why I had to use my friends instead of actors, or why I had to film the whole thing myself, was because nobody was teaching me how to do it any better than what I was doing.
I wasn’t IN any department.

So, the start of my sophomore year I finally applied to become a major in “Film and Video Studies”.
In order to get into the program at the time, you had to take two introductory classes, both of which I had accomplished. I even took one of the classes that summer, just so I could get a head start.
One of them was a class on film and lighting, and actual important stuff required to you know… make movies.
The other class was a class on newspapers and the media.

Oh, and you also had to get a B average between the two classes.
That means a C and an A, or even two B’s.

But not a C and a B.

Well… needless to say, I didn’t get a B average. I think I got a C+, but I applied anyway.
I had heard from various sources (including a good friend of mine who was a senior at the time) that many of the students in the department had actually gotten in despite never meeting these intro requirements.
They just had to ask the head of the department, and possibly do some extra work on the side.
And back then, I was always down to do some extra film work.
So I thought surely with all my experience in running the TV station, making my own show, and winning an award at the Film Festival as a freshman, then maybe they would let me slip into the department.

And to be honest, the only real trouble with not getting a B average meant that I’d have to pay the school again to retake that newspaper class, and prove that I can make movies…

Well that’s fine and all,
but that’s NOT fine when you only teach the class once a year.

Which means if you wanted to try again, you’d have to wait an entire year.

Which means an entire year of you not taking the film classes you needed to graduate.

Which means giving the school a shit ton more money.

All of this aside, I still have trouble even fathoming why anybody in their right mind would put a requirement to get into their program; Especially if the kid is obviously passionate about doing this sort of thing, and has done this for the last year AT YOUR OWN UNIVERSITY!

So of course, Sean McGehee got denied into the film program.

It took until the end of that school year for them to get back to me,
just to tell me that I wasn’t in.

Well fuck.

Thankfully, I had some very nice professors in my theatre minor classes. I told them what was going on in my life, and they suggested that maybe I should join the Theatre Performance BFA. I thought it over for a few days, and convinced myself to switch into their department.
This was the closest thing that related to what I wanted to do in life, plus that way I didn’t have to spend an entire extra year of my life proving to the school that I could bump up a letter grade in their class on newspapers.

So, I spent the next four years in the theatre department, learning how to rig a stage, and what real actors go through to do what they do. I had to take dance classes, learned how to read Shakespeare, and even got five years of improv training under my belt!

I want the record to show right now, that I do not regret this decision to switch.

It was the smartest move I could have made at that point in my life, and because of the way that the classes at Central were programmed.

The things that I learned in that department were probably ten times more valuable at that stage in my life than anything I could have learned from film. They taught me how to be an actual person: how to act, and write, and do all of the fun parts of film-making that the technical side tends to forget.
The things that I loved about making The University;

That second year at Central, I even tried to start the show up again for a second season. This time I cast four different incoming theatre freshman as the leads.
I figured new students deserved to have the same amazing experiences that I got
(the good ones anyway).

The new season only lasted four episodes before we had to stop. My co-writer and I had different ideas about the direction of the show, and to be honest, it lacked all of the charm that the first season had nailed down so well.
It probably didn’t help that we weren’t getting to air the show on actual television either.
(Also dating one of the leads in your own show is never a good idea).

I also took part in the “48 Hour Film Slam” again that year. This time however, when they went to show our film at the festival, the guy running the projector couldn’t figure out how to play our film. He tried several times, but it never ran. Every other film that year ran without a hitch.
I’m not going to claim that this was an attack on me by the film department, but it certainly didn’t help make me feel any less degraded. My senior friend actually (the same one who told me that some students still got in without the B average), stood up during that year’s award ceremony.
He told everyone just how hard we had worked on making that film, and that it was a damn shame they couldn’t watch it there that night.
It was very emotional, and it really meant a lot.
(You can watch that short here).

But eventually, when it came down to the end of the line;
When I was almost done with my degree in theatre three years later… I realized something terrible.

“I’m still getting a degree in theatre.”

Here I was, still making videos and wanting to make movies. I was writing screenplays in my spare time, and creating sketches. I wanted television, and cameras, and to produce things on the internet that people can watch thousands of years in the future.

So why am I paying to take classes on Vietnamese Water Puppetry?!

I knew nothing about the film world! I didn’t know HOW my camera worked, or what the differences in lens even were. I couldn’t tell you where to apply for a film license, or how to budget a project!
I panicked, and my whole life fell out of control.
I was so far into the theatre degree, I couldn’t think how to get out. I didn’t have that kind of money, I was already swarmed with loans as it was.
I started drinking more than I usually would at parties, just to get to a point where I didn’t have to think about the shit hitting my life. I broke a window in my own house,
I got kicked out, lost nearly all of my friends.
I had to move literally to the other side of town.
I got into drugs, and I fell off the deep end. Like… real deep.
I became a social outcast. Some of these people won’t even talk to me anymore.
I stopped going to classes.
One of my professors even jokingly called me
the “Vanishing McGehee”.
Yeah, cause that’s gonna make me want to come to class even more.

I completely stopped caring about creating anything,
because nobody else seemed to care either.

“You made a show? What?!” Pah. Yeah right.
Nobody said that. Nobody asked. Who gives two fucks about
Sean McGehee.
I felt like I had been kicked around by this university in so many different directions that I was just completely tired of trying anything.
Either nobody knew what I was going through, or they thought I should have been “man enough” to get through it on my own. And yeah during this time I ended up doing some pretty messed up stuff, but none of this was ever intentional. Nobody wants to be like that! Everything was slipping from my life, one after another.

I had to petition just to come back Senior year, because my grades started slipping.
I thought I would be fine that summer, but this whole mess would keep coming back at me in waves.

I’d be fine in the Fall, where people were happy to pretend that what I had done the year prior never happened. But slowly the year would start to drag on, and the classes became more and more unappealing.

I was a movie guy, stuck in a purely theatre world. After that first year, none of the classes I had to take were actually about acting. It just stopped applying to me. Every now and then I did get to take a class on vocal conditioning, or directing, but so much of it ended up being this discussion on the “ancient art of acting”.

I would frequently miss the references to musicals and plays that all of my friends would laugh and laugh about around me. I just didn’t have the passion for these dramas like they did.
And I tried; Oh GOD I tried so hard to make these worlds blend together.
I loved Shakespeare, I loved acting!
I wanted nothing more than to find some beautiful combination of theatre and film,
or to apply what I learned into making movies, but every single time I tried to make something I was already out of the loop!

Either that, or nobody gave two shits about doing something outside of classwork.

I didn’t have the cameras or the gear that other film people in the actual department had.
I didn’t have the theatre know-how to make a play; I didn’t know music theory, or how to read sheet music, let alone how to sing.

All I wanted to do was create something, anything, but I slowly realized that I was getting moderately good at too many different things.
I wasn’t mastering any one thing in particular.
A few of my friends thought I might have had ADD,
but of course the process for getting diagnosed for that through the college required months of verification, and some pretty serious proof of having a problem.

Everything I created seemed to get a brief round of applause online,
only to disappear into obscurity the next day.
I was greying out; flat-lining. So I said fuck it all, and I left.

I was ready to die.

I had to go to counseling. I had to see a therapist, and like, deal with shit that shouldn’t have been an issue to begin with.
There were so many times I wanted to just stop it all, because I could not for the life of me see how any of this was worth it, especially when in my mind nobody cared.
My parents didn’t even know what was going on, and to be honest I didn’t even THINK to ask them for help. They lived in completely different worlds than I did, they weren’t actors, they didn’t make movies. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, they just had no idea what I was going through. I never really felt good having to ask for help either.

I didn’t even care about myself. I let my body fall apart, and gained a ton of weight.
I started thinking heavily about reality, and the entire concept of life as a whole. I became super existential, and classes became a thing that clearly didn’t matter to me when I was just going to die in the end anyway.

At least if I was a martyr, then maybe some fucking change would come to this school. If I died, maybe that would make a fucking impact.

How interesting of a story would that have been, having a student go from being extremely ambitious one year, to a corpse the next.

I literally posted a video to the department’s facebook page, telling the school that I was dealing with some serious shit. There was one time I had to go to the emergency room from almost overdosing on cough syrup.

But even after dropping out, even after that video, I still didn’t hear a thing from the school.

And like, I’m not trying to pin this all on being from one specific cause. Addiction has ran in certain members of my family. There clearly were a lot of different factors that could have gone into what happened to me, but honestly before all of this I was a pretty tame guy.
I was just some innocent dude trying to help people and make videos…
I created some of what I thought at the time to be the most appealing shit, and for what?

I thought I was close friends with some of these professors.
But if they didn’t care, and I didn’t care, then… who cares about anything?
Why do anything if nobody’s going to appreciate it.

It’s like how you don’t stop telling your wife that you love her, just because she already knows. People need that reminder sometimes.
Especially if you’re paying them.

I would stay in my room for days. Sometimes I would only leave to get food, then curl back up into my room again.

Looking back now, I feel so, SO terribly bad for the women I had in my life at the time.
I can’t imagine what they had to deal with: not truly knowing how far I had lost myself, or my desire to even live. They didn’t deserve that, and I wish anything I said now could make it up to them.
But I know that the only way to do that is with action. That’s part of why I’m even writing this in the first place, to make a first step into a second chance. To make a change not just for myself, but hopefully for everyone.

I obviously realize now that certain people DID care about me back then,
and that some just didn’t know how to express it.
There were of course those who did want to see me fail, and some that probably enjoyed my misery because of the things I had done during my fall;
but the truth is that most of the people were simply too involved in their own lives and degrees to deal with somebody else’s existential bullshit, let alone wanted to get dragged down with me.

And I honestly don’t know if it was just me,
or if it was me not living up to what I knew I could be,
but I really couldn’t handle it anymore.

Not like that.
I had to drop out.

The Gang

It’s funny.
You always think about how you wish you were as smart as you are now, but back then.
I often think of all the things I would have done differently, all the poor decisions I had made, or the things I could have said to people to help myself.
And every time I do, a lot of it seems to keep bringing me back to this overarching problem, this problem with not feeling accepted anywhere.

I’ve since learned a whole lot about loving myself, and I’ve been learning to handle criticism a shit ton better. I do still have trouble understanding the need for negativity in this world, and certainly haven’t become any less philosophical in my mindset. Obviously we need criticism, otherwise everything we make would continue to be the same and there would be no overall improvement.

But to completely stop people in their progress; that’s almost evil.

Even to this day, the school still hasn’t had anyone create a running TV show like we did, let alone an incoming freshman.

I know now that they’ve since changed the guidelines for entering their program, which is obviously a huge step in the right direction. But I don’t think them changing that fact had anything to do with my story.

The sad truth is that they probably had no clue that any of this even happened to me.
Nor do I believe that they would care if it wouldn’t earn them money somehow.
I haven’t received an apology,
I haven’t gotten a “hey, that sucks what we did to you”.
Obviously it’s not in their job description to have to do that kind of thing, but I mean, Jesus Christ,
are they not people?

It’s like, imagine if you found a dead fly in a meal you paid $30,000 dollars to eat. Obviously this could have been, and probably was a mistake; but you can’t help and feel at the end of the day that the fly was always supposed to be part of the meal.
At least something intentional. That or they’re just ignoring the fact that the fly is even there
Either way, if this were an actual restaurant I would have gotten my meal for free.

And when you do start to think about the school as a business (like it really is), then this extreme lack of acknowledgment for what we created seems absolutely absurd.

We made history for Central Washington University.
No matter how bad the show may have been, we were still the first to accomplish what we did: the first show on campus made entirely by students outside of class.
Why would a business not take advantage of a situation like this?
I mean, firstly, there are so many opportunities here for students to be applying what they’re already learning! Plus, they’d be producing content that would legitimately bring out a sense of pride within your department, and help build your students online presence.

We want to make things for you Central.
We should be working FOR your college, not against it.

You shouldn’t let your genuinely ambitious students fall into depression and addiction.

And now, well, I don’t really have a goddamn clue what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. Not that most people in this world do, but I haven’t exactly had it easy for most of mine.
I was never blessed with a wealthy family. I was brought up the majority of my life by a single mother. We weren’t backwater poor or anything, but I mean, I’ve definitely lived in and out of trailers a few times in my life.
I’ve showered with hoses; I never had my own car, and clearly could never afford braces.
I’m certainly no stranger to rough times in my life, but I pushed myself past these walls I was born into, and I’ve tried to make something of myself.

But this… this was something else entirely.
This was like an accumulated wave in a tsunami of perceived “fucketry”.

I’m sitting on a nearly complete degree in a profession that I didn’t intend on majoring in, partly because of a B average from a faulty department guideline, and a lack of communication within the school itself.
I’m constantly riddled with calls and mail from the very same school, asking me to pay them money for helping screw me over, and all in all it’s been a very stressful situation.

Meanwhile, Central’s still giving out full rides to any kid who can dunk a ball in a net or some surfer-looking dude who shows up drunk to rehearsal.

I’m just sitting here hoping that I can AT LEAST come back in the fall to finish the theatre degree, or possibly try to maybe defer the loans until I can finish…
But the way this school seems to work sometimes, I honestly can’t tell one way or the other what’s going to happen.
Just trying to re-enroll alone has been like pulling teeth from an agitated gorilla.

I’d like to end this story off with a happy note at least.
This is one of my favorite things Rick ever taught me, something he used to often quote; something he learned from his own experience trying to film for PBS.
He’d say, “You know Sean,
it’s much easier to ask for forgiveness,
than it is to ask for permission.”

And I think that’s why the film department didn’t like him: because he jumped the gun, and started that channel while he had the chance. He knew how long these guys were just going to sit on it, doing nothing.
He wanted to do something in the now, not wait around and think about the possibilities years later when he’s on his death bed.
Because when you do that, then it never happens.

Life’s too short not to be like Rick.

I also want to make a note here, that I don’t have anything against the film department as it currently stands at Central Washington. From what I’ve heard, the department has actually flushed out a lot of the problems that I had gone through.
And like I said before, the things that I experienced happened to me six years ago now.
And if I could, I would gladly re-enroll as a film major now, just to learn the things I should have been taught six years ago.

ALSO:
This article clearly isn’t about my TV show, nor do I actually think it in itself is a crowning achievement of film ingenuity.
What this is about is a kid with a perceived understanding of how the world should, and was told would work, only to be pushed aside at what he assumed to be every step of the way.
It’s about someone who was clearly and sometimes blatantly asking for help, falling in class, and continued to get ignored in a university he was paying tens of thousands of dollars and risking years of his life to attend. Sorry if I have to break down the metaphors for some of you. Also, if your opinion after reading all this is that I should just suck it up, you should look up the term “Blaming the Victim”.
The entire reason it’s taken me two years since dropping out to even tell this story is because I was afraid I would get that kind of reaction; like it might only re-validate my fears of inadequacy. At this point I’ve matured enough not to really dwell on it one way or another, and I still make my own shit outside of school.

ALSO ALSO:
I’ve already gotten a lot of feedback since originally writing this, a lot more than I honestly meant or thought I’d receive. I’d firstly like to say thanks to all the people obviously who have read this far. It means the world, even if you don’t agree with everything I’ve written.
Secondly, I know it might sound like I’m still super bitter about all of this, or that I have like, a grudge against the world, but that’s certainly not the case.
I spent the last six months of my life watching the entire Andy Griffith show, if that tells you anything about my current character.
I’m sure anybody that knows me nowadays would tell you I’m more of a “chill and crack jokes” kinda dude. It’s probably from the months of chemical abuse; like how people usually become nicer after a near-death experience sort of thing.
Either way: there’s no hate here. I honestly just thought it was an enjoyable story, and that it could hopefully stop people from making the same mistakes in the future (myself or the school included in that statement).

Here’s a good thing I had to post about some of the feedback I’ve gotten:

“If anybody thinks that I’ve been acting like an entitled white boy for posting my experience at Central, I’m always open to hear your opinions, because I clearly understand that “Nobody’s perfect”.
I’d say that’s a pretty good summary of the post in general.

“If you were wondering, “why bring all this up now?” Or “why open up these old wounds”, or like what is the point in poking this sleeping bear like some of you have, well, that’s a pretty simple answer actually.

“First, it’s overall just an entertaining story in general. I felt like writing it, so I did. Drama aside, it’s got a full arch and deals with some real shit from an interesting perspective, and makes for a good and raw read.

“Second, this should not have happened, nor should it happen again. If you actually read the thing, I clearly take responsibility for my own actions. I shouldn’t have reacted the way I did, but at the time I was young, clueless, and in a new environment. If I never tell this story, then nothing would ever come from my suffering. What if somebody else at school is dealing with these same issues? Maybe reading my story could help.

“Third, this IS me moving on. Posting about my experience is the single best way for me to get past it, just like anyone who deals with any sort of trauma in their lives.
Imagine someone posted a story about how their uncle stole a bunch of shit from them as a kid. Would you tell them to suck it up for finally getting the courage to tell it years later?
This “suck it up” mentality is positively poisonous to the planet, and solves absolutely nothing. If anything, your ability to tell me to suck it up is entitlement in of it’s own.

“Fourth, Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights.”

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Anyways… If you want to watch the show, they’re still all uploaded here on my channel. It’s actually a lot of fun to see the progress we made, if you marathon them from start to finish. Almost everything about the show gets better as it goes (even the font!)

Thanks for reading this. If you did,
I love you.

tipnumber4