College of Fine Arts, School of Theatre, Film & Television

Grant and Dean Bomar, aspiring filmmakers, are taking their first steps toward becoming the next Coen Brothers through the Film & Television BA program at Arizona Online.

The Bomar brothers have been creating short films for years. Grant primarily directs and writes, while Dean handles concept writing, cinematography, and editing.

“We’ve done almost everything together as long as I can remember,” said Grant. “We would make little skits with our father’s iPad, and that kind of evolved.”

“What inspired me to get into filmmaking is my parents,” Dean said. “At a young age, my father taught me how to draw, and that’s when I began to make comics, which allowed me to conceptualize visual elements for my stories.”

Dean emphasized their strong working relationship during filming.

“We take an improvised approach to filmmaking, which means our planned shots and lines are fluid,” Dean said. “So, when we are on set, we both have clear communication about the elements we want to achieve.”

  • Learn more about Arizona Online: BA in Film & Television
  • FYI … Grant’s favorite Coen Brothers’ films include “O Brother Where Art Thou,” “No Country for Old Men,” and “The Big Lebowski.”
Online film students, the Bomar brothers, make 'American Gothic'
Online film students Dean and Grant Bomar.

Online film students, the Bomar brothers, make ‘American Gothic’

The Bomar brothers recently made a short film, “American Gothic,” using clips that Grant made for his online class, FTV 210 media production, taught by Nicole Koschmann, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona School of Theatre, Film & Television. The film, made with a cast and crew of 10 people in a North Carolina cabin, was screened at five film festivals in Atlanta and is scheduled to screen at the Austin Short Film Festival in Texas in the fall. The film won the “Best Experimental Film” award at the Atlanta After Dark Festival and is under consideration for the 51st Student Academy Awards.

Grant mentioned that some assignments in Koschmann’s class aligned perfectly with a film festival in Atlanta that he entered. They combined clips from Grant’s assignments with clips he filmed for the festival. Grant directed and co-wrote the film, Dean served as director of photography, co-writer, and editor, and their parents produced the film.

“It’s a continuation of ideas that my brother and I have worked on for most of our short films about the formation of identity and surreal imagery in relation to memories,” Grant said.

Their short film revolves around twins debating the validity of their memories, posing a philosophical question about the formation of identity. Later in the film, the twins encounter a movie that contradicts their memories.

The Online Experience

Grant mentioned that the online classes translate well to an online setting. He watches lecture videos, movies, and uses online textbooks. Online film students also have to submit their own films, which enhances their hands-on experience.

“We create a lot of short films on our own, so it goes hand-in-hand where we can take the classes online and add to that knowledge simultaneously,” Grant said.

“Taking classes online meant I was able to study from anywhere, even on set or during a multi-day shoot,” said Dean. “This saved me from a lot of stress and allowed me to apply what I was learning more easily.”

Grant and Dean, originally from Georgia, chose the University of Arizona for its top-rated film program. They were looking for a program that was accessible and allowed them to get an education while working on their films. The transition from online high school to online college was smooth for them, as they were homeschooled.

“The University of Arizona online experience has been very convenient and helpful,” Dean said. “I did not have the time to pursue studies at an in-person college, let alone one with the caliber of classes U of A offers.”

Dean stated that the film and writing courses he took have helped him be better prepared during pre-production for their recent films.

An interview with the brothers in support of the Atlanta After Dark Film Festival.

The Future

Due to the early success of “American Gothic,” Dean said they have made invaluable contacts within the film industry.

“I’m hungry for bigger and better festivals; every festival entry is an opportunity to watch other short films,” Dean said.

The brothers also founded a production company, Big Board Films. He said they took some inspiration in naming their company from Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove.

“We wanted something more serious and front facing for a project that we were going to send to film festivals,” said Grant. “We set up our own studios and groups, and I want to keep that dynamic going forward,” he said. “Kind of being outside of the main production environment but making independent projects and trying to be a modern-day filmmaker or working collaboratively.”

Currently, the brothers plan to start shooting a film in late spring, reimagining a student film they made in high school with a more professional cast and crew. They are also working on building an improv troupe to train actors.

Grant’s advice to incoming online students is to start creating.

“Try to take all the classes you can, but make sure that while you’re doing it, start making projects on the side,” he said. “Start exercising the knowledge because the only way to really do anything is to get up and start working on it and applying the skills and doing it.”