Interview with Tucker S. Elliot, Director, “Computer Scientist Extraordinaire”

August 13, 2014

Interview with Tucker S. Elliot, Director, “Computer Scientist Extraordinaire”

Major: Computer Science (May 2014), Media & Mod/Sim

Hometown: West Palm Beach, FL

GT Computing: What was your motivation for doing the film?

Tucker Elliot: I was just getting started in film and wanted to start building up a portfolio. I remembered the huge role that the CoC culture played in my decision to come to Georgia Tech (having seen it in the Accepted Students Weekend), and I felt like I pretty much had to give something back.

GT: How did you come up with the concept for the film?

TE: I thought it’d be hilarious if George P. Burdell was a Max Fischer-esque character (from Wes Anderson’s Rushmore), having a leading role in literally every CoC club (and a few others!). Zipp was originally supposed to be George P. Burdell, but we obviously couldn’t show his face, and we felt like it’d be too distracting to constantly be obscuring him, so we wrote out George and replaced him with a generic high-achieving student.

GT: Community is a major theme of the film. What is unique/special/etc. about the community at GT Computing?

TS: We’re a tight-knit bunch. There are plenty of other schools where you could probably go four years without ever really meeting your classmates, but I think that’d be pretty much impossible to do at Georgia Tech, especially at the College of Computing, as someone will introduce you to the Orgs Room or one of the 27 CoC clubs at some point.

GT: How is computing related to the film industry? How did studying CS help shape you as a filmmaker?

TS: Well, the obvious answer is that a comprehension of the underlying nature of video effects and digital photography makes it easier to understand the limitations of post-production while actually filming (a shout out to Dr. Irfan Essa, who taught CS 4475, Computational Photography, in Barcelona last summer). But perhaps more valuable is the mindset for project development you get from studying computer science (or, for that matter, any type of engineering). I’ve found that the same problems and solutions that arise in software engineering tend to also appear in film production. After all, the core goal of both is the same: take a group of people with conflicting methodologies, ideas, design practices, and specializations, and make a cohesive, well-designed end-product.

GT: What other projects have you worked on while at Tech?

TS: My work on the CoC project led me to work with BuzzStudios (Georgia Tech’s filmmaking club. Another shout-out to Ben Lambeth and the rest of the folks at BuzzStudios!) on the plot videos for the Fall 2013 game of Humans Vs. Zombies as well as a Hyundai commercial that focused on the loyalty of GT football fans and Buzz. I’ve also directed a few short films for Campus Movie Fest, including A Curator of Souls, which is a Golden Tripod nominee for Best Cinematography.

GT: What are your future plans?

TS: I’ve officially gone off the deep end and matriculated to a Film MFA program at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. I always figured that a safe bet would be getting a bachelor’s in something I like and know I can fall back on, and then getting a master’s in something I love.