Green and white on the silver screen.

Bill Vincent English professor Holt, Michigan

Bill Vincent may not be a household name. But the longtime actor, producer, writer, and English professor in Michigan State's film studies program taught—and inspired—many of today's filmmakers who are.

In fact, Sam Raimi—perhaps best known for directing the "Spider-Man" trilogy—and his longtime producing partner Rob Tapert were students of Vincent during their days as MSU film students. The pair would later enlist his help in making their first feature film, cult classic "The Evil Dead." Vincent even appeared as an extra in the film.

"I learned a lot from them," says Vincent. "Not only about how to make films but about how to make a company. That's what I'm constantly telling my students. You should make contacts now. Here, put together a team of good people and make films together and go on. If you want to do it, do it."

As a tribute to their former professor, Raimi and Tapert invited Vincent to film a cameo in June 2012 on location in New Zealand for the remake of "The Evil Dead."

It's not a typical role for a professor, but one Vincent assumed with pride.

"I think that goes along with being a teacher," says Vincent. "I think most good teachers are actors."

Bill Vincent
Holt, Michigan

[Whistle blowing on film set and background voice] Standing by. Open work planks.

I had never in my wildest dreams imagined I would get to New Zealand. For Rob

[Tapert] to actually go out of his way to invite me to come was awfully nice. It’s exciting. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a set like this.

[Background voice] To Charlie, take one. Steve?

I got in on a Sunday. I got a phone call at 7:30 in the morning saying “Where are you? You’re supposed to be at the set.” I’ve had to go through that so many times in being an extra in their films that it was just like old times. I said I wanted a scar, so they gave me two scars actually. I felt like a star. I’d always loved film when I was growing up. I’d see two or three films a week. It never even occurred to me to make a career out of film. Undoubtedly I’ve been a teacher. I think I inspired some students to go further. I love creating characters, I love creating stories, and I love acting. I think that goes along with being a teacher. I think most good teachers are actors.

[Background voice] I said freeze. [Laughter]

Sam’s brother Ivan Raimi was in my class. Then he talked Rob into taking my class, and Rob and Ivan together said, “Look, Ivan’s little brother [Sam] is making films and we’d like you to see what they’ve done.” [Movie tape rolling in background.] Happy Valley Kid was a good film, and it seemed quite likely that they would go somewhere. Then they showed me a script for a film called Murder in the Woods, which they went on and made a short film, which was a calling card for raising money for Evil Dead.

This being a remake, we have a lot more money.

It’s such a nice feeling to know that they were successful. They deserved it. They worked really hard. I learned a lot from them, not only about how to make films, but also how to make a company. That’s what I’m constantly telling my students. You should make contacts now. Here, put together a team of good people, make films together, and go on. If you want to do it, do it. Don’t wait until tomorrow.

[Background voice] Here we go, here we go, and...Action! [Screaming in background]

I hope it means Spartans will do something. Will succeed, will be important people in the world. I think about my own students and how many of them are successful. Successful in ways which they probably did not anticipate when they were here.

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