- Associated Press - Sunday, October 12, 2014

ORANGEBURG, S.C. (AP) - Calhoun Cornwell has a story to tell, but this time he wants to use film to bring to life one of Orangeburg’s most well-known historic events.

The South Carolina State University graduate wrote and directed a stage play entitled “Taking a Stand,” which chronicled the events which took place on Feb. 8, 1968, that have come to be known as the “Orangeburg Massacre.”

Three students were killed and 28 others were injured when S.C. Highway Patrol troopers opened fire on a crowd of protesters following three nights of escalating racial tension over efforts to desegregate the All-Star Triangle Bowl. South Carolina State College sophomore Henry Smith, S.C. State freshman Samuel Hammond Jr. and Wilkinson High School student Delano H. Middleton died in the incident.

Cornwell’s original play was staged in February 2010 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium on the S.C. State campus. Produced by the Henderson-Davis Players, “Taking a Stand” was based on months of research and interviews outlining the events leading up to, during and immediately following the incident.

Cornwell said he is now set to release the promotional movie trailer for “Taking a Stand” in late October or early November.

“We shot some scenes on the S.C. State campus and will be using this trailer to gain funding to actually shoot the film,” Cornwell said.

“First I made this story a play and graced the front of The New York Times. Now, I am blessed to be at the beginning stages of making this film. Nationally, this is a little-known story about how a group of students fought for their right to bowl,” he said. “The tenacity and drive these young students possessed to make a difference is a story worth telling.”

Cornwell said unlike the stage play, the film will include several different perspectives.

“With the stage play, I told facts and you saw opinions as well, but the film takes a totally different angle. You see a lot of different perspectives, including a white family’s perspective and a news reporter’s perspective. With each one, no one’s giving up. It’s inspirational and emotional all tied into one,” he said.

Cornwell said, “I’ve always wanted to turn it into a movie and just do it the right way. There are a lot of people who make bad films, but I wanted to go to film school and learn the correct steps in making a film. I wanted to write correctly for film and TV.”

“My school has like an Oscars ceremony at the end of the year for the student who wrote the best screenplay and the best TV pilot. I won in both categories and felt like I accomplished my goal of coming to school,” he said, noting that he knew then it was time to complete a film.

Cornwell is in his last quarter of studies at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where he is set to obtain a master’s in dramatic writing. He plans to move to Los Angeles in November and said his “Taking a Stand” script is already gaining interest from an L.A. studio.

“Taking a Stand” won the script competition at the 2013 Atlanta Young Playwright Festival. His script for a play entitled “Death Row” won the script competition at the 2014 Tampa Bay National Theatre Festival.

The 27-year-old is founder of Da Creator Productions. For more information on the trailer, contact Cornwell by email at takingastand1968@gmail.com.

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Information from: The Times & Democrat, https://www.timesanddemocrat.com

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