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Alumni Update: Making his movie
Posted 03/27/2014 09:16PM

Daniel Pappas (’11) already is establishing his legacy as part of SMU’s Film and Media Arts Department. Pappas is in the middle of handling the on-set sound recording of a full-length feature film this semester. The film has its own Facebook page, and anyone interested in contributing to the film can go to this site. Donors will receive credits in the final production.

As for his legacy at Parish, Pappas’ early initiatives resonate in the Visual and Performing Arts Department.

“Because of Daniel’s interest, we started teaching film classes,” said Kevin Ash, Upper School Theatre and Film instructor. “The first year, we had a couple students doing self study. Now we have about 30 students taking film classes and that all resonates from Daniel’s passion.”

In 2011, Pappas was among 23 students honored in a region-wide high school theater awards ceremony hosted by The Dallas Morning News. Pappas received top Comic Actor for his versatility in a physical and comedic portrayal of an angst-ridden actor in the US production of I Hate Hamlet.

Also as a senior, Pappas had his video selected by the Dallas International Film Festival and featured at the North Park Center AMC. In the first Parish Film Spectacular among students, Pappas featured films he’d worked on independently. Among Pappas’ first video efforts? Messin’ with Zombies.

Part of Parish’s fifth graduating class, Pappas was a well-rounded, high-achieving student who also helped Parish become one of the state’s premier swim programs. In 2010, Pappas was third overall in the 100-yard backstroke to lead the Panthers’ to a fifth-place state finish.

“Daniel worked the same way on film as he did with swimming,” Ash said. “He was always putting in the time to plan and was ready to do the next step. In the beginning, just learning the composition of film, you could see Daniel had a good eye and a talent for story-telling through editing. His passion comes through.”

Catching up with Daniel Pappas ('11)

What are you doing now?

I am in the middle of pre-production for our big feature film coming up ( in the summer as well as planning for the four upcoming student productions, one summer internship, and a possible webseries I will be working on. I also have to edit my own short film to get to an artist later tonight and plot out an essay on a television show of my choosing.

What is a passion you would like to pursue?

Filmmaking. I love being on-set as the director, but if I can't do that, I love filling in for any role I can. I specifically love to write and direct my own productions. I only do short films right now (it takes way too much work for me to do my own feature film), but I've worked on several web-series' and even worked for MTV once! I love being able to get my hands dirty and work on films more than I like to do just about anything else. I also like to travel and play Ultimate Frisbee (my life isn't only about film you know ;) )

What have been your favorite classes?

  • Comic Books & Film (homework was to read Batman, Superman comics and watch the movies)
  • Serial Television in the 21st century (homework was to watch Breaking Bad)

How would you describe Parish to your friends?

Parish is a community that places its members first. They are always there for you and always supportive of you. On top of all of that, Parish is one of the best places to get an education. The people I met there and, the things I learned, have helped me infinitely in my travels.

What advice would I give?

Make the most of it. Find the things you love doing and do them as much as humanly possible. That will give you the greatest amount of joy. It doesn't matter if you're awful at it; if you love doing it, you will always enjoy yourself. Especially in college, when you start to find a group and stick to it. Do the thing you love, and the longer you stay with it, the more you'll find you've developed a good group of friends around that thing.

What would be your dream job?

Writing and directing my own feature films! I would love to work on movies that people go see in theaters across the nation. I don't care how big or how small the movie is as long as I can proudly say my movie got screened!


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