First-year film students ‘Take 1’

By Ivana Hester

From a story about the life of a mortician to one about an obsessive-compulsive young man, the 23rd semiannual Take 1 Student Film Festival had it all.

The festival celebrates the work of students in Moving Image Production I and II courses, according to Jill Sultz, an adjunct faculty member in the Film & Video Department and coordinator of the festival. Of the 40 films submitted last semester, 11 were selected to be shown on the big screen Nov. 7 at Film Row Cinema in the

Conaway Center.

“We wanted to have an opportunity for students to bring their families in and show them their work,” Sultz said.

A panel of faculty from the Film & Video Department chose which student films were to be screened at the festival, she said. Each member had a background in a different aspect of film to ensure the diversity of the panel’s selections.

“[Picking the films] is tricky because when you are judging art, it is always difficult to do that because art is so subjective,” Sultz said.

The films screened at the festival were grouped into three classifications: Moving Image Production I, MIP II: Homage and MIP II: Documentary. Audience members were asked to vote for their favorite film in each category, and films were given awards based on votes and the jury’s selection.

MIP I films screened at the festival were “Pandorium,” “Vice Grip” and “Scraps.” MIP II: Documentary films were “Magical Thinking,” “The Mortician’s Mission” and “Gone.” MIP II: Homage films included “White Walls,” “House on the Hill,” “Shadow in the Wall,” “Put Down” and “Alamar Mora.”

Audience favorites were “Gone,”  “White Walls”—both of which also won the jury vote—and “Pandorium.”

“Pandorium” tells the story of a man held captive inside a strange box who plays music to lure in those who come across it. Once the box is opened, that person is

trapped inside.

“Gone” documents the life of a young man in Chicago who chooses to be homeless to teach people how to adapt to a post-apocalyptic life.

“House on the Hill” paid homage to Tim Burton through animation reminiscent of Burton’s classic, “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

Dylan Sherman, a junior Film & Video major, directed the film “Put Down,” which he said was inspired by a real life experience he had as a child when his dog was put down.

“I was sad as hell obviously, but I just thought, ‘I can’t imagine doing that,’ and I thought of the idea [and] put it in a film,” Sherman said.

When the festival began in 2000, students use Bolex film cameras because the college had yet to incorporate digital technology into its curriculum. Most students did not own a projector, so the film festival was the only way they could see their work, Sultz said.

Shooting on film is something students still learn in the first-semester classes. Sultz said she thinks shooting on film teaches discipline and prepares students for their second semester.

“When [first-semester students] come to the second semester, they are much more able to do pre-production and plan for their video shoot,” she said.

Even though using film has benefits, it will most likely not be part of the foundation classes for much longer because of the growth of digital technology and lack of resources, Sultz said.

Three projects shown at the festival were shot on film, which Sultz said is difficult because Bolex cameras have to be constantly wound while filming and films are shot without recording sound.

The second-semester student films were shot digitally, allowing the students to use more advanced filmmaking techniques.

When it comes to being creative, Sultz said she encouraged students to put themselves into their films.

“We try to get them to look at their own experiences and use that in their filmmaking,” Sultz said. “We look for students to find their own voice.”

Tyler Atchison, a sophomore film & video major, was encouraged by the films he saw at the festival.

“[The festival] makes me want to take the film that I’m about to shoot as a homage [to director Quentin Tarantino] more seriously,” Atchison said. “I feel that I could definitely be sitting in those chairs [next semester].”