Former Pearland resident’s anti-bullying film to be screened in Katy
Aaron Alon was an adjunct professor teaching the history of rock ‘n’ roll at Alvin Community College in 2011, when the idea came to him for “Bully,” a movie musical that will premiere Sept. 24-25 at a movie theater in Katy.
The inspiration came from an incident in Cypress, where Alon would later become a professor of music at Lone Star College-CyFair, in which a 13-year-old boy killed himself in response to what his parents said was years of bullying at school.
“It was so heart-wrenching,” Alon, the movie’s writer/director/composer, said of reports surrounding the death of Asher Brown.
Alon was inspired to write Bully, about a high school freshman, Sam Bradley, who is taunted by three athletes, who beat him up and call him an anti-gay slur. The character rushes home and shoots himself in the head with his father’s gun.
The film will be screened 7 p.m. Sept. 24-25 at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema-Mason Park, 531 Mason Road, Katy. The cost is $10-$15. For details, visit www.bullythemusical.com/tickets.
“I wrote a draft as a stage musical, but I realized that it should be a film because the story I wanted to tell was on a larger level than just Houston.”
The setting of the movie is never specified, but it “becomes a character” in the story, said Alon, 36, a former Pearland resident who now lives in Jersey Village and recently became director of music at Lone Star College-University Park.
“Sam is the central character, but the movie becomes about all of these other people in the community, and how they react to Sam’s death,” Alon said.
“His parents, the bullies, school administrators, and others ask themselves, ‘What do we do in the wake of a suicide?’ The press even become a character in the film.”
More than 100 people became involved with the film, many of them donating time and talents to the project.
“Bully” was produced by Thunderclap Productions, which Alon co-founded while living in Pearland. The mission of the nonprofit group is to produce lesser-known for under-performed plays, musicals and screenplays.
The movie’s budget of about $35,000 includes private donations and grants from the Houston Arts Alliance and the John Steven Kellett Foundation in Houston.
Alon, whose father immigrated to the United States from Israel, earned music degrees from the University of Chicago in 2003 and the Cleveland Institute of Music in 2005 before moving to Pearland that year and enrolling at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. He completed a doctor of musical arts in composition in 2009.
In 2010, Alon wrote a short play, “The Great Storm,” about five people reflecting on how they hunkered down in a seedy Galveston bar during Hurricane Ike. It won a spot in that year’s “Scriptwriters/Houston” stage audiences.
Alon warned that “Bully,” while not yet rated, will be screened with a parental advisory due to its strong language, violence and partial nudity.
“The film is not recommended for children,” he said, explaining that he believes its mature content is necessary to tell the story.
After each screening in September, Alon and some members of the cast and crew will participate in audience talkbacks. They will be led by Allison Vogt, the director of sexual violence prevention at Rice University.
Next, Thunderclap Productions plans to enter “Bully” in film festivals.
For further information about “Bully,” visit bullythemusical.com.
Don Maines is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org