• Erik Rollins, a former Murphy High football player and graduate, is producing a short film called Murphy about life beyond the small-town gridiron. Photo by BEN KATZ
    Erik Rollins, a former Murphy High football player and graduate, is producing a short film called Murphy about life beyond the small-town gridiron. Photo by BEN KATZ

SCOUTING AROUND: Bulldog alum begins filming of 'Murphy'

    Some people at Murphy High School’s football game Friday night may have noticed a film crew present. They were recording footage to be used in Erik Rollins’ short film titled Murphy.
    “Murphy really made me into the person I am today,” said Rollins, who graduated from Murphy High in 2014. “I take a lot of pride from where I’m from.”
    Rollins is a film and television production student at Western Carolina University, but is known locally for being on the 2013 state championship football team. He wrote Murphy during the summer of 2017 in response to his feelings about his friends from home only wanting to talk about Bulldogs’ football.
    “I felt like a giant weight was off my shoulders,” he said.
    He said the 15-minute film is a drama about stereotypes and what makes kids here play football. It’s also about letting go and accepting reality.
    “In no way, shape or form is it an attack on the town,” he said, adding that he even calls himself out in the script. “I had a hard time letting go.”
    He went to Tri-County Community College in Peachtree for two years. However, when he started attending classes at Western Carolina University, he had a big life change.
    “It opened my eyes that there’s more to life than Murphy and Murphy football,” he said.
    The first person he showed the script to was his boss, Jason Ledford, another Murphy alumnus. Ledford told him it completely encapsulated what home was like.
    The film is a departure from what he usually writes. When he was young, he would act out Saturday Night Live skits for his mother, Beth Rollins. At Western, he became known as “the comedy guy” for the short skits he’d create.
    He submitted Murphy to the school’s script bank for professors to choose the best scripts for senior thesis films. Rollins was put into a project team as the producer, and the team’s director, Conor Fricault, selected Murphy as his top pick.
    “I thought there was a certain realness to it,” said Fricault, who is from Winston-Salem. “I just always wanted to make a movie about a small town like this.”
    Rollins wanted to be able to film the entire movie in Murphy, but costs prohibited that. They did drive around town Friday afternoon to get some footage before recording more at the game. He got permission from Cherokee County Schools Superintendent Jeana Conley over the summer to film at the football game, then arranged with Murphy High Principal Jason Forrister for any needed releases.
    It was Rollins’ first game since he played at Murphy. Fricault thought the homecoming atmosphere would be perfect to film.
    “I really wanted to represent the adrenaline you feel from the football game,” Fricault said.
    He, Fricault, and Regina Lacarrubba, the director of photography, plan to film Oct. 7-10 in the Cullowhee area.
    “I’m actually very excited for the whole process,” Rollins said.
    Murphy is planned to open at Western Carolina University’s Controlled Chaos Film Festival in the Bardo Performing Arts Center on May 3, 2019. Rollins said the public is welcomed to attend. Fricault said they also may submit the film to other area film festivals.

Raft Zip for the Cure supports scholarships
    Wildwater Ocoee in eastern Tennessee is holding its 12th Raft Zip for the Cure on Saturday. The event raises funds for the MaryEllen Locher Scholarship Foundation and honors survivors at a lunch reception. The foundation awards college scholarships to children who have lost a parent to cancer or has a parent who is a cancer survivor.
    Each Wildwater location selects a project to give back, and Hannah Godfrey, the Raft Zip for the Cure coordinator, is thankful this is the cause the local location continues to support. Her mother, Sandra Hyder, had breast cancer when Godfrey was young.
    “It means a lot. I wish this was around when I was in school,” Godfrey said. “It doesn’t just affect the parents. It affects the kids.”
    Those who would to like participate have several ways they can. By raising $100, a team of six may go rafting. With a $300 donation, a team of six may go rafting in the morning and ziplining in the afternoon.
    Up to 10 people may go rafting and ziplining by raising $500. The raft trip starts at 10:30 a.m., and the zip trip starts at 3:30 p.m.
    All survivors are welcomed to attend the lunch donated by Shane’s Rib Shack at 1 p.m., when door prizes will be awarded. Survivors may decide to only attend the lunch, if they wish, but Godfrey said the Ocoee is a guided river, and both the river and zipline are good for anyone.
    For details, contact Godfrey at orbctmanager@gmail.com or 423-715-7649, or Justin Mashburn at wildwaterdigital@gmail.com.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.