The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, January 05, 2021 1:00 am

15 and producing films

Homestead freshman gains awards, respect

BLAKE SEBRING | For The Journal Gazette

It would be very easy to underestimate Morgan Gullett.

She's only a high school freshman, barely 15 and she just moved here.

But her résumé is already impressive, filled with acting and film production credits that began when she was just in elementary school.

She's continually studying all aspects of making movies and has a journal filled with ideas she wants to explore.

The Homestead student moved to Fort Wayne in September. Her father is a cardiovascular surgeon at Lutheran Hospital and her mother joined the board of the Fort Wayne Medical Alliance. Including her brother who is a freshman at Southern Methodist University, the family comes from the Houston area, which is where Gullett started her dive into cinema.

After she won a regional dramatic reading contest at age 8, one of the judges suggested she try acting. After landing auditions and roles, Gullett moved to Los Angeles for three months so she could take classes and audition during pilot season. By the time she was 9, she had signed with two agents and had child acting licenses in Texas, California and New York. By the time she was 10, she had been cast in the Hallmark movie “A Fish Tale” along with several independent productions and commercials.

Soon after, she created her own 10-minute documentary, “Don't Forget Us,” which examined the response of children to the antics of adults around the 2016 presidential election. After writing, casting and producing the film, Gullett received film festival awards and credibility from more experienced artists.

Then she created, did the casting and starred in the short film “Switch” about a girl who wakes up from a concussion and realizes something is very wrong about her family. The film won 11 awards, including several acting honors for Gullett, and Lifetime Movie Network is considering the concept for a full movie.

Gullett followed all that by persuading singer Heather Mae to allow her to produce her video “Smoke Signals.” Playing off mental health themes, the award-winning video was produced when Gullett was 14.

“I think it's cool how film can change people's lives, and you can do anything you want with it,” Gullett said. “It's all about telling it from a different point of view.”

Gullett also has given attention to what was going on behind the camera, often asking production crew and directors about their jobs and how they did them. She also quizzes hair and makeup artists and learns costume and makeup techniques.

She seeks out advice and techniques from director Nikki Ludowese and producer Rachel Svatos, who have worked as writers, director and producer on various independent films, including three involving Gullett.

“We've worked with Morgan since she was around 11 years old, and we really can't explain how amazing it is to watch someone who's passionate and young work towards something they love and see her grow with every project,” Svatos said. “Morgan's incredible youthful ideas really brings a fresh perspective to the work that we do together and we can't wait for her to fully bloom into a wonderful and powerful young woman in the industry. And honestly she's just a joy to have around!”

Sometimes the hardest part is explaining to friends that she is not using her phone as a camera and trying to create movies on the spot, Gullett said. Instead, she plans months and years ahead, works with commercial-grade equipment, including $50,000 cameras, creates casting calls of up to 500 actors and is even involved in contracts and permits.

“It's really fun being able to choose and put your vision in front of the camera,” she said. “I remember going into casting calls and always being nervous, and sometimes the casting directors were a little intimidating and scary. I want to change that and give actors a little more feedback coming out. ... I like being able to pick and have control over that area because I think actors often make or break a film.”

With her mother, she co-owns the production company MG Entertainment. Gullett eventually wants to become a casting director or a producer.

This summer, Gullett will study screenwriting at the New York Film Academy and her suspense screenplay “Replaceable” is in pre-production. It's about the death of a popular small-town high school student and how her friends cope with it and how some capitalize off it. Casting will begin this winter and filming will start this summer in Dallas.

“She's a pleasure to work with on every project, regardless of her age,” Svatos said. “I also had an early passion for film and wish I had someone to encourage me this way so early on, so it's wonderful to be able to mentor a kindred spirit!”

It could be expected that one day, we might all be watching a major Hollywood blockbuster she's responsible for. In the meantime, Gullett goes to school, is a Homestead cheerleader and continues to write ideas in her journal.

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