NSHS nixes casting call on campus

NSHS nixes casting call on campus


By Robert Stevens

Managing editor

Apr. 5, 2018


MT. PLEASANT—A proposed documentary about rural Latter-day Saint teens will not be using North Sanpete High School in Mt. Pleasant as a basis for their filmmaking efforts.

A film production crew approached North Sanpete High administration about making a documentary series on the lives of rural Mormon teenagers, beginning by hosting an on-campus casting call.

However, leaders at the school and in the district are skeptical about the proposition.

“I guess I am a little worried about the association with the school,” Nan Ault, the school’s principal, said during the last meeting of the North Sanpete School District. “I am very protective of my students. I asked myself how I would feel as a mother and how I feel as a principal.”

During Ault’s report at the school board meeting on March 20, she said the production crew claimed to be funded by social media giant Facebook.

She said, by all appearances, the crew seemed to be nice and genuine people, but she is very hesitant about granting the filmmakers their request to host a casting call at the high school for the project.

Ault said her main concerns were a negative portrayal of North Sanpete High and its students, either due to inaccurate reporting or Hollywood-style stereotyping.

One of the board members agreed with her concern, saying, “You never know how they will end up editing what they film.”

According to Ault, the filmmakers—who were professional and polite in their request—want to host the casting call as the first stage in the reportedly Facebook-funded documentary series. The crew told her they expected to have a finished pilot episode by summer.

Ault said the casting call was the only request the production crew had made so far, so she didn’t know if they wanted to film the series itself on the North Sanpete High campus.

Sam Ray, superintendent for North Sanpete School District, agreed with Ault that there was potential for problems in the concept, which he said would be better off handled by the LDS Church, instead of North Sanpete High or the school district.

Ray said if the production crew wanted to do a series on Mormon teenagers in rural Utah, they should go through the LDS Church to make it happen.

“The church has an entire media relations department,” Ray said. “They have public relations specialists. The show concept is almost entirely religious. The church is much better equipped to handle something like this.”

Ray suggested that if this production crew was intent on moving forward at North Sanpete High, he thought the only place the casting call should be hosted was in the seminary building adjacent to the school, since the pitch was about the lives of Mormon teenagers, not simply rural Utah teenagers.

He suggested that if an arrangement were made with the production crew, the crew should rent the seminary building—thus maintaining a separation between church and state, but the North Sanpete High campus is not a good place for it.