Family makes award-winning film

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Thomas Parrish V, 15, left, directs his brother Zachary Parrish, 11, as they record audio while working on their movie 'B1 - The Awakening' on Thursday at home in Rocky Mount.


Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Thomas and Valerie Parrish were trying to come up with a way to cut down on their two boys’ screen time two summers ago.

They had no idea it would lead to film awards and Thomas V, 15, and Zachary, 11, working on a professional film with a trailer that was included in a recent international Children’s Festival showcase in Poland.

“We were annoyed with constantly getting them off the video games,” said Valerie Parrish, a math teacher at Edwards Middle School.

In addition to the common parental threat, “Stop spending so much time on the computer and playing video games,” she and her husband added on two directives: Make something. Be creative.

Thomas Parrish IV, a faculty member at Edgecombe Community College teaching IT and drone technology classes, passed on the basics of film making to the two boys, gave them some simple equipment to use and told them if they wanted to be on the computer, they had to be creating something.

“It was the best idea we had at the time and had no idea they’d do so much with it,” Thomas Parrish said with a laugh.

Thomas Parrish V, a student at Nash-Rocky Early College High School, said he combined a story idea he had in his head with his brother’s untapped Jedi warrior moves he practiced all over their house, and the short film, “Force B1 - Beyond the Outer Rim” was born.

“My brother is very good at martial arts and he loves to fantasy-fight with his light saber,” Thomas Parrish V said, “He’s really, really good at it — having pretend light saber fights. And I thought, ‘This could make a good story.’”

What started out as a boredom-busting exercise turned into a passion for the boys and soon, Thomas and Valerie Parrish were involved, making it a family project.

“We’re the producers,” Valerie Parrish said with a smile, “We get to pay for everything.”

The three-minute movie, “Force B1 - Beyond the Outer Rim” is loosely based on the Star Wars universe-story. A young boy played by Zachary named GiuwDaan B1 discovers he's not like everyone else on his planet and he must take a journey of discovery to find his true self, his true ability, his true power. The film won awards at the Carrboro Film Festival and Park City International Film Festival.

“We wanted to expand on that short film, and tell even more of the story of GiuwDaan,” Thomas Parrish V said.

The family has been working on a longer film, “B1 - The Awakening” since January 2018.

Zachary said he really likes his character GiuwDaan and that he doesn’t mind doing what his brother says as the director.

“Most of the time it’s fun, except when it’s taking a long time,” Zachary said.

Many scenes in “B1 - Beyond the Outer Rim” were filmed in Rocky Mount. GewDaan’s running scenes in a forest were shot in Battle Park. In the trailer for “B1 - The Awakening,” the “desert” scene was shot at Jockey’s Ridge. Thomas Parrish shoots most of the scenes with his son Thomas Parrish V serving as director.

“Thomas will tell me what’s in his head for a scene, how he wants it to look and what the story is, and I try to find locations and help him shoot it,” the dad said.

Parrish and Thomas Parrish V work together on editing. For the most part, they say they are shooting the film sequentially.

“Right now, until we find some locations to shoot, we’re kind of at a standstill,” Thomas Parrish V said. He hopes to have “B1 - The Awakening” finished in 2020. He’s established a crowdsourcing fundraiser on indigeogo to help finance the film.

The family works together to create props, costumes and create the scenes Thomas Parrish V sees as part of the story.

“It’s been a really cool thing for us all to work on,” Thomas Parrish said. “I didn’t plan it like this, but it’s really been a great way to teach them something — a skill they can use down the road — and to see them excited about it is awesome.”

Valerie Parrish agrees and said she loves to see and hear them get excited about working on the film.

“I know how hard it is to find something for kids to do that they have fun and are learning at the same time. We were lucky that this was something Thomas could teach them about and it just clicked with them both,” she said.

Both Valerie and Thomas said that even more than the skills the boys are learning or the accolades their work gets, seeing the boys work on something together and how it’s turned into a family project is the best thing to come out of their “get-off-the-video-games” directive.

“We appreciate that this kind of morphed into what it has — something we all are happy to do with each other and look forward to doing,” Thomas Parrish said.

Check out the short film, “B1 - Beyond the Outer Rim” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ey2i1uvyz8 and the trailer for “B1 - The Awakening” at http://forceb1.com/