By day, UHD alumnus Billy S. Cox III is a business analyst at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. In his spare time, the screenwriter/director is working on his third movie and promoting the second one.
Despite some success and a best drama award from Cleveland’s Indie Gathering Film Festival last year, Cox said beginning moviemakers like himself should surely keep their day jobs.
“I’ve been here (MD Anderson) for six years, and I like it a lot,” Cox said. “I worked as an intern while I was in school at UHD, and they kept me on.” The 2003 Computer Information Systems (CIS) graduate learned how to write a screenplay, borrowed an old Canon, and without a budget, filmed his first flick, “Destitution” about two years ago.
His movies aren’t easy to watch, Cox said, because they imitate life and are not politically correct. “All the films I’ve made I’ve tried to base on real life,” Cox said. “It’s a gut check.” Hence the name of his company, Gut Check Productions, formed with Producer Rodney Acevedo.
His newest film, “Mindsight,” tracks the story of a young couple whose son is killed by a drunken driver. The main character starts to see his life play out before him, the “mindsight” of the title. He stops differentiating between reality and mindsight. The trailer and synopsis are enough to attract the curious, although the plot is not necessarily pleasant to read or watch.
Cox raised money from family, friends and investors to get the $70,000 cost of making “Mindsight.” It was filmed with a Red Digital Cinema Camera, a relatively new technology that bypasses film processing and scanning negatives.
What motivates a 31-year-old college graduate with a good job to take to the streets with a camera and a story? “Out of boredom, and I met a guy from Dallas who taught me how to write a screenplay,” Cox said. “I started writing and fell in love with it. I like dramas, and I like to think about how life really is.”
“Mindsight” is on Netflix now, and Gut Check Productions plans to start filming its third offering, “H,” in Houston next spring. Cox said he always loved UHD because of its location and the faculty. “Once I arrived, I learned that the school was growing and constantly working to improve,” he said.
He most appreciates the professors who pushed him to try harder and believes that people today often expect to coast along without real effort. UHD Associate Professor Charles Strain was one who other students warned him about as “tough,” but Cox found he had just the right classroom mix to challenge him to work to the fullest. “It makes you a better person to be challenged,” Cox said.
A trailer, synopsis and description of the technology used to film “Mindsight” can be found at www.mindsightmovie.com.