Lights, Camera, Action: Islander Videographer Wins National Screenplay Writing Award

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – From Presidential events, student showcases, and dynamic university marketing videos, John Darbonne, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s official videographer, is there to capture the moment. With more than 30 feature films under his belt, Darbonne’s artistic expertise is recognized on a national level. Recently, his script for “The Cottages” – an episodic about memory manipulation and if our memories make us who we are – brought home the Field Screenwriter’s and Best Web Series Award at the West Field Screenwriting Awards in New York and Film Crash in Los Angeles.

“The core of my reasoning for getting into film was because I wanted to be a writer,” Darbonne said. “So, winning an award for my screenplay has opened up a whole new ballgame for me. This award holds more meaning because it validates my work and shows that I can make a living writing.”

Filming “The Cottages,” brought Darbonne’s vision to life and gave current Islander theatre students and alumni, who made up a large portion of the cast, the opportunity to act in a film. This experience was invaluable and helped the students grow in their craft and increase their versatility in this demanding career field. The opportunity also gave them the chance to learn from James W. Evermore, who recently stared in the 2018 movie Benji. Darbonne also plans to work with more theatre and production student on future projects.

“I have been impressed by the quality of the actors our University professors produce,” Darbonne shared. “I’ve worked with professional actors, and these students could compete with all of them. They were amazing.”

Darbonne, who is pursuing his master’s degree at Full Sail University, is also a mentor for production interns in the Division of Marketing and Communications at A&M-Corpus Christi.

“One of the reasons I like working in education is because I had mentors early on in my career that were instrumental to my current success,” he shared. “It’s now my responsibility to help others.”

In this role, Darbonne imparts his knowledge and experiences to students through hands-on opportunities unique to the Island University. His one-on-one interactions and guidance often prepare students for professional success.

“John helped me understand how the film industry operates, as well as encouraged me to expand creatively,” says Josh Reyna ’18 alumnus. “My confidence, work ethic, and industry connections are due to John, and it’s because of him that I’ve secured a stable job in my field.”   

Since joining the University in 2017, Darbonne has revitalized the media production content Texas A&M-Corpus Christi creates. Adding a twist on the classic standard, Darbonne is steering the University toward a more youthful, dynamic, and creative landscape – pushing the boundaries for himself and his students.

“I’m eager for this year because I have a great group of interns who are extremely talented,” Darbonne says. “Together, we’re going to fracture the old narrative structure around here – really elevate it – and make it stand out.”

“The Cottages” was also a semifinalist in the Web Series Festival Global in Los Angeles and is a current finalist at the London Short Series. Another one of Darbonne’s films, “Dead Man’s Fuel” was nominated for Best Cinematography at the Bright Side Film Festival. “Dead Man’s Fuel,” which is a film about the afterlife, was filmed June 2018 and debuted at the California Independent Film Festival. The film will also show at the 2018 MPAC Film Festival in Houston from Thursday, Oct. 11 through Saturday, Oct. 13.