By RENEE FITE
Steve Cypert hopes to inspire youngsters to get involved in their communities, and last summer, tried to lead by example.
Cypert donated his time and talent painting mural at Grand View School to encourage the students. The idea came from the Grand View Schools summer program. The kids were divided into groups and tasked with coming up with ideas to improve the environment for learning, Cypert said.
“The group came up with the mural idea, but they didn’t know I was actually going to paint it for them,” he said. “I wanted to brighten the hallway and instill a bit of pride in the students.”
The school provided the interior paint for the mural, which is in the hallway of the fifth- through eighth-grade building near the principal’s office. It took about three weeks between summer school and the start of fall classes to complete and it’s roughly 20 feet wide by 8 feet high.
“A friend, Whitney Gonzales, helped me figure out how to lay out the lettering,” he said. “Other than that, I had to go it alone.”
He had to mix the colors to get the various shades.
“The teachers who were getting prepared for classes to begin were more excited than the kids. That helped me get motivated,” Cypert said.
Other projects he working on for the students are film-based.
“I’ve invited some of my friends in the movie business, including Richard Smedley of Barely B Films; Bunee Tomlinson, a 19-year-old phenom, and Jon Edwards, of E.F. Productions; to come by and talk to the Grand View after-school kids.”
His goal is to inspire the students.
“I hope to get the youngsters inspired by the realization that there are professional filmmakers living among us,” Cypert said.
Cypert volunteers because he believes it good for him and the community.
“The things I do are fun, so it isn’t like I’m sacrificing or anything,” he said. “You really shouldn’t do things for the personal glory. I just do something because it seems meaningful, and I have the free time to do it. Find something you care about and join in. To be honest, I just feel that we should all give a little. There are those who give a great deal more than I do.”
Many local citizens are always giving of themselves and their talents, he said.
“It seems odd to not want to give a little,” he said. “I don’t give near as much as some of my friends do. You aren’t really invested in your community until you give of yourself. The bonds you build with others are important to cementing the community together.”
For others considering volunteering, Cypert suggests, finding something they enjoy.
“If you see something that needs to be done, just do it,” he said. “Give blood work for Help-In-Crisis, join Habitat for Humanity, entertain people by being a part of the community theater.”
Cypert also volunteered for the U.S. Army.
“I performed for the USO while on active duty,” Cypert said.
During college, he spend one summer in Oklahoma City as a summer missionary, he said, recalling another volunteer experience.
“Most recently, I’ve been entertaining the Democrat Women at their fundraisers,” he said.
On Friday, he helped honor veterans at the Tahlequah Workforce Center by volunteering to play guitar and entertain those who attended the reception.
Each spring, he volunteers with the Bare Bones Film Festival in Muskogee. Cypert has made several animated films.
“I’m very interested in computer graphic animation and visual effects,” he said.
Cypert appreciates other volunteers, he said.
“The Independent Film community is full of those who will help you make movies, provided you feed them,” he said. “My friend, Brian Choknacki, owner of Sooner Plant Farm south of town, spends time each year going on mission trips and traveling the country doing hard physical labor.”
Cypert moved to Tahlequah a little over 40 years ago to attend Northeastern State University. He stayed because the creative people who live here appeal to him.
He met his wife, Connie, here in Tahlequah. Cypert enjoys entertaining his grandkids, Hunter, Ashlynn and J.D. Ford, and draws his own comic characters.
“I love them to pieces,” said Cypert. “My two youngest grandkids, Hunter and Ashlyn, have provided me with lots of opportunity to fancy up our home movies by adding dragons and music, to the point that, starting next year, we’ll be working with professional photographers to do our movies,” he said.
Other hobbies include music.
“I play the guitar, but also have a deskstop studio with a complete sampled symphony,” he said. “I use the workstation to write original movie scores and create sound effects. And lately, I’ve ramped up my drawing skills for the purpose of story-boarding a feature film I’m writing with Ryan Brandt.”
Awards he’ won date back to his time in radio. He won a NAB award for best advertisement. Recently, he won Best Feature Script in the 2012 Script to Screen event in Tulsa.
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