Phillips Academy deans have asked Michael Kontaxis ’11, director of the film “Live Green or Die Hard,” to remove his film from YouTube, two weeks after he was asked to edit his film for violent content before a film festival.
Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, said that he decided to ask Kontaxis after conferring with cluster deans and Carlos Hoyt, Associate Dean of Students.
Kontaxis, a Pine Knoll resident, said that he received an email from Aya Murata, Pine Knoll Cluster Dean, informing him that the deans had decided that he should remove the video.
Kontaxis said that he “decided to comply” because he wanted to “move on to [his] next film.”
He said that the school was concerned about the way his film represented Phillips Academy.
“Obviously I didn’t want to take it off YouTube, but [the decision] wasn’t completely unexpected,” he said.
Kontaxis had previously removed tags that would link his film to the Green Cup Challenge or Phillips Academy through YouTube searches, but he said that the film still had over 2,000 views on YouTube.
Murphy said that he had not seen the film at its original screening at the Green Cup Challenge Film Festival, but watched the film on YouTube after meeting with the deans. Murphy said that the violence in the early part of the film was “pretty jarring.”
“The minute a student posts something that’s tied to the school, the school is going to have an opinion on if it’s appropriate or not,” he said.
Murphy felt that the school had the authority to ask Kontaxis to remove the film.
“I think the school has the responsibility to teach about context and responsibility as a community member,” Murphy said. “And to the extent that it can, control things that are tied to the school.”
He added, “[The video] crosses a line that doesn’t reflect the values of this boarding school.”
Murphy said that when a student decides to attend Phillips Academy, they must abide by “certain community standards in a public forum.”
Andover’s Technology Acceptable Use Policy prohibits “creating or propagating…material in any form…that reflects adversely on the Academy.”
According to Kontaxis, he did not use any school film equipment or software to make his film.
According to Murphy, the school is not concerned if a student posts a video at home in which they are not at all identified as an Andover student, but the situation changes when the student identifies with Phillips Academy.
Kontaxis said that he still has DVD copies of his film, which is still posted on his production website, www.bigbluenoodle.com.
A similar situation occurred last year while Marlys Edwards was Dean of Students. Murphy cited it as a precedent for the decision about Kontaxis’s film.
Clyfe Beckwith, Flagstaff Cluster Dean, said that last year the deans asked Joe Wilkin ’08 to remove a trailer of his film “Catboners” from YouTube.
According to Beckwith, the film included scenes with fake guns and sword play, and viewers on YouTube did not know if the violence was real.
Wilkin said that after Beckwith contacted him, “I gave my defense, but it’s really what the school says [that] goes.”
“My first response was that the guns and swords aren’t real,” Wilkin continued. “I thought that that was the major concern, but they were just more concerned with their image.”
Wilkin said that the administration’s biggest problem with his trailer was its prominent use of Phillips Academy buildings, including the Memorial Bell Tower and Samuel Phillips Hall.
“The movie I made was violent, and I know that the violence had a lot of faculty members nervous,” Wilkin said. “And because I put it on YouTube, it spread around pretty quickly.”
Wilkin said that he made the film with students from Phillips Academy and Andover High School “for fun,” and posted an edited trailer of the film on YouTube. He said that trailer still includes scenes inside Phillips Academy buildings, but added that “it is kind of tough to recognize [the inside of the buildings] if you’ve never been to Phillips Academy.”
Wilkin said that the school did not ask him to edit his whole film.