Campus News

Squirrel-wind of speculation follows Bethical News sequel trailer

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Sometimes you really need something outlandish to welcome you back to school, and at the beginning of this school year, that’s exactly what we got. “Squirrelnado," an action-packed movie trailer created and filmed by the crew of the parody news segment "Bethical News," with help from a few special guest actors, appeared to be the sequel to last year’s hugely successful Bethel-original film, “Bethical News: The Movie.” This trailer greeted students returning to campus after the summer. President Gregg Chenoweth, who was featured in the trailer, got up onstage immediately afterward, telling the students, “And you thought we worked over the summer.” Written by Evan David, media and communications coordinator, and an obvious spoof of the movie series “Sharknado,” the trailer is full of everything you’d expect from an action movie trailer. Dramatic music begins playing as we’re introduced to “Dr. Morris,” the new head of the science department. She’s in a shady-looking meeting with another scientist, discussing “experiments.” Turns out, they’ve been conducting genetic experiments on the squirrels on Bethel’s campus, but when a freak tornado sets them loose, the faculty and staff, including Shawn Holtgren and Chenoweth, are set into a race for survival against the “Squirrelnado.” Chainsaws, machine guns (simulated effects, of course), and the “Were-Squirrel” were all present. But this trailer raises the question: Is “Squirrelnado” really the new brainchild of David and the rest of the crew of the first movie? After all, “Bethical News: The Movie” started out as just being a trailer, but the response was so great that the movie actually got made. The original movie, based on the hugely popular parody news series “Bethical News,” was released last year. The film was written by David and two former students, Brennan Miller and Casey Weaver, and starred the cast of the previous season of Bethical News. The movie received what David described as “enormous and overwhelming” feedback from students. However, David said that there are no plans to actually create a sequel to the first movie. “We got lots of comments and stuff, people were very vocal about their response (to) the first ‘Bethical News: The Movie’ trailer," he said. "I don’t think the response to ‘Squirrelnado’ has been as much as before. Number two: I was single when I made the last one, now I’m married. So in order to take that much time out of my marriage and my other free time, we would need to raise money in order to compensate me for my time.” David said that after the trailer for the first movie was released, Twitter feedback was very positive towards the possibility of an actual movie, and that pushed David, Miller and Weaver to write the movie. “I think response would be similar if we announced the ‘Squirrelnado’ (movie),” he said. “But the school’s not willing to pay for the time so it would have to be a student-funded thing, and I don’t want to outright ask the students because they gave us a lot already just with their attendance to these things and their enjoyment of the things so we don’t want to ask them to pay for it if they don’t want to.” But just because it’s not being made into a movie doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a lot of creative thought put into this trailer. I talked with David a little bit about the process behind the trailer. “The original idea for ‘Squirrelnado’ was Josh Hartsell’s,” he said. “And we wanted to use it somewhere for another . . . video. But then when President Chenoweth approached me and asked for a funny video just to make everybody laugh and bring everybody together, I thought of that, and I was like, ‘let’s do ‘Squirrelnado.’” The choice of genetically altered squirrels came from, first of all, the fact that squirrels seem to be Bethel’s unofficial mascot, due to their extremely high population across campus.. As for the genetically modified part, David had recently seen the movie “Jurassic World,” in which a main component is genetics. As for the “Were-Squirrel,” that came from the limitations of video effects, according to David. “I went around campus looking for squirrels to photograph to use for the trailer,” he told me. “And I could only do so much with digital manipulation of actual photos. And then we had some CGI squirrel models in the trailer as well, but we needed to fill the whole trailer with a whole lot more action, and using a full-body squirrel costume was just easier in the long run and less time-consuming than going fully digital with our squirrels.” The Were-Squirrel costume was actually homemade from a Rocket Raccoon mask from the Marvel movie “Guardians of the Galaxy,” claw gloves and a tail from the costume shop Fun FX, and a cut up wig glued to the mask to add the fur. Overall, it was a pretty striking ensemble. While there aren’t plans to turn this crazy trailer into a movie, David did make it clear it’s not that he doesn’t have interest in a sequel. “I would make the movie, absolutely, if we had the (funding) to reimburse me for my time,” he stated. “I’ve talked about this with my wife, that’s one thing we’re not going to budge on. I would do it for free, but to be a responsible husband at this point, I need to be making money, or at least, I need to be reimbursed for my time while I’m making the thing.” David said that if people were willing to raise money, then he’s totally open to making the actual movie, so who knows, perhaps “Squirrelnado” may become the next Bethel blockbuster. Just don’t let the squirrels get any ideas.


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