The Next Act of ‘The Andrew Lee Story’ is About to Begin

Strangely for a film major, Andrew Lee says he and his family didn’t watch that many movies or TV shows when he was younger. It wasn’t until he went off to college that he began exploring the world of film for himself.

“I didn’t know where my interests were — I took all my core classes to touch up on different subjects and see what I’d be interested in, and nothing seemed to fit,” he remembers. “This was at a time when I was watching a bunch of movies and TV shows, and I guess it just hit me, why not try this?”

Andrew was attending the University of Richmond at the time, but when he started looking for a school with a film program, Georgia State seemed like the logical choice. “It was very convenient, since my mom lives in Cumming. And I knew a big state university would be a nice change of pace from the small liberal-arts bubble I was living in.”

Great Directors and a Vibrant Setting

Now in his final semester, Andrew says he’s come to appreciate Georgia State for more than just its convenience — the school’s diversity and the experience of living in Atlanta, he says, have been great. Scholarships such as HOPE and the Women’s Philanthropy Initiative Scholarship have also given him the freedom to explore and find out which aspect of film he’d like to focus on most.

“They’re meant to entertain you and have you forget about your troubles, your personal struggle, and develop a relationship with the characters. That’s why I love the movies,” Andrew says. “You invest all your time into watching these characters’ struggles. You’re living vicariously through them, and you get to share in their experiences.”

His film professors at Georgia State, he says, have done an excellent job mentoring him and explaining difficult abstract concepts. “That’s one thing about college that I will miss, having that one-on-one relationship with my professors,” he says. “The classes are very small — like 15 students, max — and I could stay after class and not worry that there’d be a line of students I’d have to wait behind. Getting to ask questions that I had at the end of class or set up a meeting later on, that’s definitely one opportunity I’m going to miss when I leave.”

It’s tough pinning Andrew down on a favorite movie — he says it’s hard for him to even pick out a favorite genre: He considers himself a fan of nearly everything, from melodrama and crime films to fantasy and sci-fi. He’s even come around on horror movies — something he used to shy away from — after seeing “The Cabin in the Woods” a few years ago.

“When I watched it with my friends, they hated it, and I absolutely loved it. It’s one of my favorite films now,” he says with a grin. “They didn’t see why it was cool, but the reason why I loved it was it’s a horror film that’s making fun of all the other horror-film clichés. I used to be terrified of anything scary, but I’m actually working on a horror short right now.”

A Head Start on the Real World of Filmmaking

Andrew already has one short film under his belt: “A Lonesome Age,” which was screened at the Atlanta Film Festival last year. “When I was back at Richmond, I had a friend who was a great writer, and as a joke he basically wrote a paragraph of a film noir parody,” Andrew says. “I said, ‘This is really cool — one day I will make a film out of this.’ Then one day I got an e-mail from one of my professors that the Atlanta Film Festival was looking for films. I didn’t have an idea at the time, but I remembered that and I thought it’d be really, really cool to do.”

Andrew didn’t have much money or time, but many of the conventions of the noir genre worked to his advantage. “I was able to do the whole film in voice-over, which saved me the trouble of having to record sound,” he explains. “And I realized if I did it in black-and-white, I wouldn’t have to color-correct and things like that, either. So it really worked out well for what I had — I thought I was pretty resourceful at the time.”

Unfortunately, the film’s harshest critic also happened to be one of the people whose opinion Andrew values the most: “My sister didn’t like it at all,” he says, laughing. “The thing about her is I hold her in such high regard because, in a way, I’m following in her footsteps. She realized she loved English years ago, back when we were in middle school, and she’s been working on her writing career nearly all her life.

“She gave me really good notes, though,” Andrew says. “I’ll succeed whenever I make a film that she enjoys — which I doubt will be anytime soon. I think it’s a good goal, though.”