Student films reel in support, prizes

By Alexandra Kukulka

The lights dim and the crowd gets quiet, anxiously waiting for the films to start. Credits start to roll on the large screen, inviting guests to partake in the 21st annual Take 1 Film Festival.

The festival, which took place on Nov. 2 in the Conway Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave., featured 13 student films. They went through a precise jury process that looked for creativity, content and execution of concept, according to Columbia’s website. Five of these films came from the Moving Image Production I class, five from Moving Image Production II and three were documentaries.

“[The festival] makes you want to make better films,” said Jill Sultz, Take 1 coordinator and adjunct faculty member in the Film and Video Department. “[Students] see that if [they] work really hard, [they] can get into a festival like this. It motivates them to make better films.”

This festival is also beneficial to students in Foundations of Film and Video—who were in the audience—because they get a chance to see the type of films being made by their classmates. This can motivate them to one day be in the festival as well, Sultz said.

The audience received ballots and voted on its favorite movie from each category. When the votes were tallied, an award was given out to the film with the most points. The award winners received a prize of $150. The jury also chose the best movie in each section when it nominated films for the festival. Directors who won this award, called the Jury Award, received a prize of $250.

Both groups agreed that the film “10 Hour Power Shower,” directed by Kevin Cline and Dylan Ptak, was the best in the documentary category. The film was about a young man’s dream to combine long showers and giving back to others.

Cline, who was also the star of the film, remembers being young and enjoying showering. This led him to an idea for a documentary about taking a 10-hour shower and broadcasting it live on the Internet. He did this in an effort to raise money to build more wells in Africa, which as the film pointed out, does not have as much water as America.

When the project was announced on Facebook, most people thought the shower was a bad idea. However, the two ended up finding support and exceeded their goal of raising $1,000, accumulating $1,172 for a well in Africa that was built in October 2011, according to Cline.

The co-directors said they were blown away by the number of people who watched their film in other countries like Germany and by winning two awards.

“It feels great [to win], because when we first made the Facebook [page], it seemed like no one liked the idea,” Ptak said.

Another inspirational film was “Through the Cracks,” directed by Motion Image Production II students Austin Vesely and Hannah Welever. The film was about the Cabrini-Green housing development and how people are being kicked out of their homes because of building renovations.

The film followed Willie “J.R.” Fleing, who is part of an anti-eviction league and a Cabrini-Green resident. He told what it was like living in the neighborhood during the evictions and restorations.

“I was introduced to [Fleming] by a friend of mine who works for the [National Public Housing Museum],” Vesely said. “[Fleming] was down to walk around for an hour and a half and talk to us in the rain that day.”

According to Welever, the most challenging part of this film was going to dangerous areas with a camera, which could have offended neighborhood residents. But their motivation to get the story took over, and they decided to go for it, she said.

The audience pick for the Motion Image Production I category was “One Day at a Time,” directed by David Devries. The comedic film was about a chocoholic struggling with his addiction and almost losing his family, who were upset with his behavior.

As the protagonist fights his addiction, many temptations almost force him to cave in. In the end, he decides to take it “one day at a time” and beat his addiction so that he doesn’t lose his family.

“I find it hard to take things seriously, so if something is stupid, that’s the only way I can do it,” Devries said.

In the end, all the directors took home an award for their hard work and creativity.

“It is always awesome seeing projects people put together in an environment where everyone is supportive,” Welever said.“It’s an amazing experience to see something you made on a big screen in front of an actual audience.