Dear Reader,

Thanks for your interest in Standard Deviation.  The film is the first for both of us, and the filmmaking experience has been quite a thrill from beginning to end.  Here we would like to share some outstanding moments from the past 18 months working on the film.

In January of 2007, we had just returned from a week at the Sundance film festival.  While rubbing shoulders with others in the film industry was a great experience, we quickly realized that with no actual film to pitch we had little to offer in terms of conversation.  We resorted to pitching the non-existing film, Hemoglobin, to fill that void.  It only went so far.  Now we are proud to have an actual film to boast about- a film we look forward to presenting at future film festivals.

About a week after our return, Chris received an email from an old friend with the subject line reading, “Remember Billy Cottrell?”  In the body was a link to the wikipedia article about William Jensen Cottrell, describing his successes in college and the fateful night in August 2003 for which he is now serving a prison term. 

Chris remembered Billy instantly- the two were classmates in sixth and ninth grades.  Billy, the stereotypical nerd with thick glasses in sixth grade, moved out of town for a couple years.  When he returned to Gainesville in ninth grade, Billy was hardly recognizable: the glasses were gone, his jeans were shredded, and the once quiet scholar was now an outlandish rebel.  Billy was the Kurt Cobain of Buchholz High School.  We knew instantly that this was a story that needed to be told.

The family response to our interest in Billy and the project has been positive from day one.  One of the biggest caveats with any potential non-fiction film is the issue of access to your subject and audio/visual materials.  Upon meeting Billy’s mother, Heidi, for the first time we were greeted with a smile and a giant cardboard box: “This is everything I’ve got on him since the arrest.  Will this be of any help?”  Bill, Dustin, and Corey greeted us similarly, and we are forever grateful for their support. 

In mathematics, standard deviation is used to compare an individual value to the statistical average of a group of values.  It is our goal with our film Standard Deviation to increase the acceptance of those who to tend to stray from the norm.  It is only by questioning and testing the boundaries of societal norms that progress is achieved.  Individuals like Billy Cottrell are important for giving us perspective on our own lives as well as society as a whole. 

Thanks again for your interest in Standard Deviation



Chris Brannan and David Randag