USM students are ‘Pitch Perfect’
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 00:10
The year 2012 has seen a variety of movies hit the big screen, but none have been quite like “Pitch Perfect,” which was released earlier this month featuring two University of Southern Mississippi students.
Jonathan Brannan, a Petal native and 2012 USM graduate, and Sawyer McLeod, also a Petal native and current senior theatre student at USM, were cast in the movie as backup singers.
Brannan, a choral music education major, credited the USM music department for his preparation for a role such as this. Brannan was a Southern Chorale member and a four-year member of Spirit of Southern, USM’s male a cappella group.
“I definitely think my training under Dr. Fuller with Southern Chorale and his emphasis on sight reading and using tuning forks to learn pitches helped me earn this role,” Brannan said. “I was able to help others in my section whenever the director would hand us sheet music, and I think that played to my advantage. Dr. Smith is another who helped me learn more about the voice and its capabilities in four years than I ever could have imagined learning.”
Even though McLeod and Brannan considered themselves “glorified extras” in the film, they both enjoyed the filming process and said it was an experience unlike any other.
McLeod said working with some of the industry’s biggest names was what made the experience one of a kind.
“I was able to meet some incredibly professional people and really big names in the industry during filming,” McLeod said. “The director, Jason Moore, has directed many plays on Broadway and was the resident director for ‘Les Miserables,’ where his directing career all began. It was truly an unforgettable experience.”
Brannan agreed with McLeod.
“Just the other night, I saw Adam DeVine on ‘Conan,’” Brannan said. “After his segment, I text him and told him great job and he responded. The connections that were made during the filming of this movie have been unreal.”
“Pitch Perfect” has been named one of America’s funniest a cappella films.
“I loved seeing Jonathan and Sawyer in the movie,” senior news editorial journalism major Erin Lowrey said. “I went to junior college with Sawyer and participated in many choir events with Jonathan, so it made me really proud to see two of my most talented colleagues on the big screen. The movie was absolutely adorable.”
Brannan is a firm believer that the South is a wonderful place to film and that the entertainment industry will soon find its way down there not only because of how inexpensive it is, but also because of the local talent.
“I’m so glad that Jonathan and Sawyer proved that the South has talent,” Lowrey said. “I see this as just the beginning of very long careers for the both of them. I can’t wait to see where life takes these men.”
McLeod hopes to graduate in December 2013. This fall, he has been cast in the theatre department’s production of “Lysistrata” and hopes to land a role in the spring as well. Upon graduation, he plans to continue auditioning and plans to book more roles through the agency he is currently partnered with.
Brannan is currently the choral and show-choir director at New Hope Middle School and High School in Columbus. He married recently and is currently auditioning for more roles in films and is optimistic about his future as an educator and entertainer.
McLeod also offered advice to students hoping to break into the industry.
“Never say no to yourself,” McLeod said. “Never give up on your dreams.”
“Pitch Perfect” is currently in theaters and is rated PG-13.