Food, Dining and Discounts
Connecting Perspectives
The Broad Social Vision of Filmmaker Barry Worthington

The clap of a slate board followed by the words, “and action,” ARE sounds award-winning independent filmmaker Barry Worthington has used on countless occasions to cue the start of a scene. But they’re the messages and imagery in the final product that resonate for him.

The 28-year-old Gaithersburg native makes films that he believes will connect with other people without “sacrificing too much of my voice from the films for the sake of only what may be popular.”

“I am trying to make films about different kinds of experiences that can connect with different kinds of viewers in an attempt to help bring viewers closer together, or at least help people understand each other and connect with the world around them better,” he says.

The challenge for a filmmaker who strives for positive cultural advancements is to connect with audiences with the same perspective as well as those with very different perspectives from his.

“Doing so is not always particularly easy, but it is so important,” says Worthington who offers a simple analogy. “For example, if you want to make a movie about dogs, hopefully that movie will connect with people who love dogs. For me, the challenge is to make a movie about dogs that people who love dogs will connect with, but so will people who love cats.”

Worthington sees his approach as a great vehicle for valuing each other and connecting with life, but also as a means to encourage social change. Two of the themes in his multi-award-winning film, “The Infinitely Generous Francis Victus,” released in 2016, focus on the importance of different perspectives and multiculturalism. At the film’s screening during the Cinema on the Bayou Film Festival in Louisiana, an audience member commented that for him “Victus” presented an additional theme that was extremely relevant today – the threat of misinformation.

“I believe that misinformation is not necessarily a new threat to our culture, but is obviously one we face on a grand scale today,” Worthington says.

His latest production, “Corrosion,” a short sci-fi film that explores the potential for humanity to be reckless in the pursuit of scientific progress, premieres June 2 at American University’s Doyle & Forman Theater. The results of the recklessness become evident when a whistleblower, attempting to derail a corporation’s irresponsible pursuit of power through a new form of energy, confronts his own missteps.

“The theme may have always been present in our history,” says Worthington, “but perhaps our future can benefit from understanding this complex theme today, even if the theme is timeless.”

Although he admits the subject has been present in other films, he says his “take on it involves perspectives that perhaps viewers haven’t considered before.” No need for a spoiler alert, Worthington isn’t revealing the details until the film’s screening sometime this summer.

A graduate of Gaithersburg High School with a degree from Towson University in electronic media and film, Worthington is the “reel” deal. He wears many hats on and off camera with his production company Limitless Films, LLC. In addition to writing the scripts and composing musical scores, he produces, casts, directs, acts, and edits. He is an adjunct film professor at Towson and Howard Community College and is currently working on a thesis film tentatively titled “Bummer” to complete his Master of Fine Arts at American University.

Worthington says finding a balance with the film’s topic about a family coming together as Earth is about to be destroyed by a massive asteroid and interspersing comedic elements to emphasize what is most important in life is a tough task. He says in the past he believed the amount of time one had on Earth was one of the most important parts of life, however, he now believes in the importance of the enjoying of that time.

“This will be one of the biggest themes of the film, as it has been a major theme in my life, even now. On one hand, I have learned that comedy can be a great way to connect with people and help illustrate the themes of the film to avoid the danger of the film being too dark and gloomy. But, on the other hand, too much comedy may do a disservice... the film is not necessarily trying to make light of the situation of impending doom, but rather to help value what is important in life, especially in dark times.”

He says the film will approach the fear of someone working so hard for a future that, for reasons beyond his control, may never come, and how to deal with that.

“This is a fear some of my peers, perhaps even my generation, and likely many other generations face, as we are all working very hard for what we believe in, and it is important to remember why we are working so hard instead of worrying about what if our efforts never come to fruition,” he says.

Worthington says inspiration for his storylines strike him “any time and anywhere.” He says he considers how relevant a theme is to today, such as a current social conflict, but he also considers a theme’s timelessness. “Sometimes, unintentionally, an idea becomes timeless or relevant, such as the threat of misinformation in ‘Francis Victus,’” he says. “Adding to that, the major theme of ‘Francis Victus’ is the importance of different perspectives was meant to be a timeless theme, but in 2017, it also seems incredibly relevant.”

Movies by Hollywood powerhouses Steven Spielberg and George Lucas captured Worthington’s interest in filmmaking when he was six-years-old. When he saw Jaws, he says he not only “fell in love with the film,” but he began to “appreciate the craft of filmmaking and understand the power of film and how it can impact people.”

Armed with his video camera, his family made weekend trips to the Baltimore Aquarium where he filmed the sharks and, soon after seeing Jurassic Park and Star Wars, he made movies with his toy dinosaurs and Star Wars toys. His home movies, which he shared with his elementary classmates, helped him hone his craft and understand the movie-making process.

Worthington credits his two video teachers at Gaithersburg High School, Christopher Beers-Arthur and Jim Finch, and professors at Towson University, UCLA Extension, and American University for their mentorship and inspiration.

“Mentors have always been important to me. They have always been examples of the ability to pursue the goals I have while encouraging me to grow in my craft,” he says. During his junior year in high school, he was a teacher apprentice for Beers-Arthur, who also taught English speakers of other languages. Worthington notes, “Under his mentorship, he taught me his philosophy for the class as well as the power of film, which is that film is a universal language. As I helped him teach the class and helped students make their own films, I quickly found that this was true and that film could be a means of bringing the world together.”

Connecting with people is one of the major reasons he pursues filmmaking, however, “in some instances, I may make a film for self-expression, for fun, to try something new or simply because it is what I love doing,” he says. As he continues to work and grow as a filmmaker, he says he is inspired by “all kinds of other filmmakers and artists including my personal peers, particularly as I believe it is important to be open to listening to all kinds of different perspectives,” he explains.

As he addresses past and present conflicts and those that may come in the world through film, he doesn’t pretend to believe he has the answers, although he does “like to propose my two cents” on issues in his films. “For what it’s worth,” he says.

“But, what I can do as a filmmaker at the very least is present different perspectives and experiences to help audiences consider the conflicts themselves as well as our resolutions.”

He says he tries to emphasize the “empathy involved in valuing each other and listening in an effort to connect with the world around us or even listen to a voice that may not be receiving recognition.”

He believes if he works hard and believes in himself and the people who help make his films, he can accomplish anything.

“Perhaps this is the lesson from my own film I need to understand: Just because time or circumstances beyond your control are limited doesn't mean you have to be,” he says.



Montgomery Writes

WHERE ARE YOU?You need to get off the beaten path to find this piece of Montgomery County history, but the red sandstone should be your first clue. Photograph by Ryan Cogswell

One winner will be randomly selected from all correct answers received by May 10.
Jono Sirovatka of Bethesda recognized the bridge over the Fishladder Channel of the Potomac between Olmstead Island and the C&O Canal and wins the framed print.
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