Columbia student to direct Keepsake Commercial

By Assistant Campus Editor

Mason Adams, a sophomore cinema art + science major, is $500 richer after being named the winner of the first annual Keepsake Film Festival on Oct. 29, an event designed to promote photo-sharing app Keepsake to students. In addition to the cash prize, Adams will direct the next Keepsake commercial.

Adams was the director of photography for “CIGGS,” the winning film. He said the idea began as a joke but came together during the editing process.

“We kind of just played off the idea of a film noir with the main character as a cigarette and it being from his point of view,” Adams said. “We shot a lot of things that were black and white and resembled life and death and then we experimented in the editing room.”

Although Adams did not attend the event, he said he was surprised when Bryce Thompson, director of “CIGGS,” texted him a picture of the check with Adams’ name on it.

“I didn’t really expect anything from it,” Adams said. “Whenever we submit films to film festivals, you never really expect anything from it. I never really get my hopes up on anything just to not get my hopes down later.”

Nick Talwar, founder and CEO of Keepsake, said the app is meant to build a movement for awareness around the issue of private digital property and allow a way for creatives to express themselves.

“I was looking for a place to begin the next big technology movement, and Chicago just fit the bill,” Talwar said. “Our brand and our mission is really expanding the creativity of people, and there isn’t a better place in Chicago than Columbia.”

Talwar said his company chose to host a festival because he thinks film is a powerful and appropriate  medium to showcase what Keepsake is trying to express.

Hadley Hendon, a sophomore  double majoring in Cinema Art + Science and acting, is the college lead at Keepsake. She said a festival was the first thing she thought of when the company wanted to give back to the Chicago community and provide an opportunity for local artists to showcase their work.

Maggie O’Keefe, marketing director of Keepsake, said she went to events to meet people and network when she attended Columbia, something the company hopes to foster for current students by hosting the film festival on campus.

“Columbia has so many resources,” O’Keefe said. “[The Keepsake team] wants to use Columbia in a creative way and gain the attention of students [while] being able to capture creative aspects of students by exhibiting their own films and getting their peers to come see their work.”

Jose Bolaños, a senior cinema art + science major, said Keepsake was the first festival he had ever submitted his work to and that it was great to be included in the top five films. His film “What If I Told You” had previously only been shown in class. He said he was very excited to show the film and participate in the festival.

“[I’m looking forward to] the fact that people are watching it, and I get to share the story with others [as well as] collaborate and network with other people for this event,” Bolaños said. “Maybe we have a writer or producer here who would love for me to direct their stuff because they love the style.”

Bolaños also said collaborating with other filmmakers during an event that extends beyond Columbia to share his film and get ideas from others outside of the college was a great experience.

“We don’t just share our stuff within the college—we share it with everyone else, and we’re not just stuck under one roof, which is Columbia,” Bolanos said.

Robert Carnilius, celebrity judge for the Keepsake festival and graduate student in the Cinema Art + Science Department, was invited to be part of the event after he showed his film, “Jaspa’ Jenkins,” at this year’s Chicago International Film Festival. He said he was excited to see what other filmmakers were creating because there are so many stories being told at Columbia.

“It’s my last year, and I’m going to be looking into getting involved outside of Columbia as well as keep my roots here,” Carnilius said. “It was really nice that they were having [the festival] here and having only Columbia students. It was a great chance to see what everybody else was doing and be connected.”