Alpha Class (2016 film)

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Film

Alpha Class (2016 film) is a 2016 American documentary film directed by Danny Mcmanus (filmmaker) and co-produced with Joe Forte (filmmaker) from their own fraternity experiences at Arizona State University in 2010. The film portrays an honest inside look at fraternity life. The film had its world premiere at the Valley Art Theater on Mill Avenue in Tempe, Arizona on September 13, 2016. The film was released on March 9, 2018, by D-Mak Productions.

Cast

Production

Filming

Danny Mcmanus (filmmaker) was enrolled in a documentary film class as a senior at Arizona State University that was tasked with producing a 30 minute short film during the fall semester of 2010. He originally set out to make a film about the failure of the fraternity he pledged as a freshman, Phi Kappa Psi, and triumph that his newly founded chapter Phi Sigma Kappa experienced during his four years of college.

Danny did some initial interviews and re-enactments that detailed the hazing process, using the active brothers as actors.

Realizing he needed coverage of the various happenings discussed in the interviews such as chapter meetings, parties, and philanthropies, Danny began collecting footage from his current chapters' day to day operations.

After an extended period of filming the chapters activities, it was obvious that there was turmoil within the organization and new story lines were emerging. Danny produced a 30 minute version of the film for the end of his fall semester, winning best film and best director in class. At the time of the premiere, the fraternity was already under investigation and national representatives of Phi Sigma Kappa attended the school's screening.

Danny continued filming into his spring semester for school credit as an independent study, utilizing a Sony PMW-EX1 and Sennheiser wireless microphone kit. He compiled hundreds of hours of footage throughout the year capturing the investigation, trials and eventual downfall of the fraternity he helped build and at the time resided in.

From 2011-2014, Danny edited through the haul of footage captured during his senior year. He originally set out to make a 10 episode mini-series of the work, but continued solidifying the footage into a single feature length film. In 2015-16 his producing partner and co-star Joe Forte (filmmaker) worked to secure the remaining film release contracts. The film had to undergo a series of re-edits to remove characters no longer wanting to be a part of the project.

The film was picture locked in 2016 and scored by Andrew Johnson and Danny McManus and released theatrically in the fall of 2016 and later digitally in 2018.

Music

Hip Hop producer Andrew "The Ref" Johnson scored the film alongside director Danny Mcmanus (filmmaker). Andrew had previously produced albums for Mouse Powell whom Danny also produced music videos for. Mouse Powell has two songs on the film's soundtrack. Local Arizona artist Danny Torgersen of the band "Captain Squeegee" provided additional scoring on the piano and trumpet.

Reception

Critical Response

  • Reviews of Alpha Class (2016 film) have been generally positive. Amazon Prime Video gives the series a score average of 4.8 (out of 5 stars) based on 15 critics.[1]
  • On COED (website), J.R. Taylor wrote that "...Alpha Class reveals how crazy things were in 2010 for Phi Sigma Kappa."[2]
  • Johnson Huynh on Hank Nuwer's Hazing Clearinghouse stated that "...filmmaker McManus focused on the aspect of frat life that is often overlooked: the enthusiasm of joining a community."[3]
  • Jessica Clifford on the Carolinian wrote "...the movie does seem to dismiss an important aspect of Greek life: the everyday struggle of being a student, while being an active member of a fraternity."[4]
  • Emily Harrington on the CMN argued that "“Alpha Class,” however problematic, is still an important film for seeing the reality of greek life: the footage is unapologetically real, and generally not selective. This is it’s greatest strength, and an important one to note..."[5]

References

External links

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