COVINGTON, Ga.--Codie Harbin and Jason Barker are a filmmaking duo with a message to all first-time college students: you will survive.
That’s the overall lesson the Georgia State Perimeter College students have in their new film, “The Perks of Being Wrong.” The film, which was written by Harbin and co-directed by Barker, seeks to capture the angst of a student trying to navigate the first year in college. Shot on multiple locations around Newton County, the production premieres during the Georgia State’s Newton Campus’s annual Daffodil Festival at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22.
“I wanted to make a film that would resonate with everyone who is struggling with that transition from high school to college,” said Harbin, who came to Perimeter College’s Newton Campus in 2021.
The story, which Harbin describes as a classic, coming-of-age film, is based on his own experiences and struggles as a first-generation student.
“I wrote the script about the basis of what a lot of people struggle with at college—you’re often confused, it’s scary, and on top of that you’re becoming an adult,” he said.
Both Harbin and Barker enjoyed filmmaking as students at Walnut Grove High School in Monroe, but the two didn’t become friends until they connected at the student success program TRIO on the Newton Campus. Both cite important teachers in their high school years who helped them succeed: Barker, who is assistant director and cameraman for the film, credits the encouragement of their Walnut Grove high school teacher Adam Logan for getting them interested in filmmaking. Harbin also credits his English instructor Chad Mozley for keeping him motivated as a student while in high school. Because of the teacher's positive influence on his life, Harbin based one of the film's characters on Mozley.
The film project was an independent idea outside of their college courses, they said. They recruited other students for the production, posted flyers around the campus, and even recruited friends from the University of Georgia.
“We basically offered free McDonald’s and pizza to get them to show up,” Harbin said. To their surprise, all the students came to all the film shoots—regardless of free food.
The Newton Campus provides students with free camera equipment rentals, and film editing software from the campus Creation and Technology (CAT) labs but eventually the duo split the cost of their own film camera and tripod to be able to film over the winter break.
Making a film is not as easy as it seems, they both said.
“Don’t set deadlines before you start filming, because nothing is going to go perfectly,” said Barker. “We had issues with our sound, with our lighting.”
With an all-volunteer cast, time constraints also made for shorter filming days, they said.
They are excited that they finished the film and look forward to the premiere.
Harbin hopes the film will be used in the future to encourage other first-year college students.
“We would love to have the film shown to new freshman students at Georgia State to show to students who are trying to figure out who they are,” said Harbin.
“I’ve grown so much this year; I’ve learned in my two years at college, college is what you make of it. It’s not a high school mindset of people telling you what to do. You have to make your own path and create your own opportunities.”
In May, Harbin will transfer to Georgia State’s Atlanta Campus, where he’ll take some nutrition classes and pursue his bachelor’s degree in film studies. Barker plans to graduate with his associate degree this May and transition to the Atlanta Campus to pursue his bachelor’s degree in mass communications.
“The Perks of Being Wrong” will be shown at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 in the Newton Campus Auditorium, Building 2-N, 239 Cedar Lane, Covington, Ga.
Story by Rebecca Rakoczy
Photo by Bill Roa