Film festival reels students into McConomy

Credit: Courtesy of Todd Mednam Credit: Courtesy of Todd Mednam Sophomore economics and statistics double major Jeremy Wheeler (credit: Courtesy of Todd Medema) Sophomore economics and statistics double major Jeremy Wheeler (credit: Courtesy of Todd Medema)

While parties raged through Oakland Saturday night, a group of enthusiastic young filmmakers and filmlovers gathered in McConomy Auditorium for the second annual SHOT FOR SHOT Student Film Festival. The event was created last year by Carnegie Mellon students to showcase innovative work being done by students in Pittsburgh, and the creators successfully accomplished what they set out to do. This year, the event continued to be welcomed by the Pittsburgh community — the festival received over 30 film submissions from four different schools throughout Pittsburgh. One school in particular that took full advantage of this event was Point Park University. Festival Chair and fifth-year business administration major Nick Hurt said the Festival Committee “can safely say that the eleven films we have hand-chosen ... showcase the raw talent, intellect, and ingenuity of student filmmakers coming in and out of this city.”

SHOT FOR SHOT was divided into two programs, the first featuring “PG-rated” short films and the second featuring “R-rated” shorts. Between the two programs, there was a short intermission and a look at some works that are currently in the making.

The eleven films showcased the creativity of the student filmmakers with diverse tones, genres, and plots. The audience experienced everything from dramas and comedies to sci-fi and documentaries.

A highlight from the first program was Milk, a four-minute film directed by sophomore creative writing and information systems double major Chris Compendio. The humorous short follows an argument between two roommates regarding whether milk would spontaneously appear in a cereal bowl if they wait long enough. The film represented a very Carnegie Mellon-esque argument with one roommate’s use of the laws of physics to back up his ridiculous claim that the milk would spontaneously appear. This film was a simple, enjoyable one that kept viewers laughing from start to finish.

Another highlight from the first program was Concealer, co-directed by first-year directing major Ariel Zucker and first-year musical theatre major Iris Beaumier. This powerful short shows four different girls applying makeup. At first, they apply a small amount, the amount that they probably wear on a day-to-day basis. As the film progresses, however, they use more and more makeup until it resembles war paint.

The film features only loud music rather than dialogue, which grows in intensity with the content of the film. In a filmmakers’ panel after all of the films were shown, Beaumier shared her and Zucker’s inspiration for the film. “I heard this quote once that ‘there are things done to women, and there are things they do to themselves,’ and we wanted to look at that through makeup,” Beaumier said.

An inspiring documentary short in the first program was Throne, directed by Point Park senior film major Nathan Osche. Throne follows the story of Jonathan Stark, who was left paralyzed and in a wheelchair after a serious car crash. Stark refuses to let his circumstances keep him from following his dreams, however, and participates in a sport called wheelchair motocross, or WCMX. Stark’s continual optimism and determination to do a backflip in his wheelchair is inspiring, and fulfilling as he accomplishes his goal.

The second program was much darker in tone and featured some of the most creative story lines. One that stood out in particular was Dot, directed by Point Park senior directing major Garrett Kennell and Point Park junior cinema production major David Light. Dot is about a young girl with OCD who feels she must kill anyone who makes a mess. However, she is taken off-guard when a cute boy takes an interest in her and shows her that messy can be good.

Kennell said the inspiration for the story came to him in the shower. “I had this image of an old fat man in his underwear in his bedroom. And then I thought, ‘What if this guy was a serial killer?’ And then I thought, ‘What if he was an innocent girl?’ And then somehow we went from that to this,” he said.

Much of the making of Dot followed a similar growing pattern. Kennell later added that the short was originally going to be three minutes and cost about $200, but became longer and longer until it got to be the much more expensive thirty-minute film it is now. The directors are hoping to make it into a feature-length film.

Another unique piece in the second program was Rage, directed by senior Point Park film major Ryan Boosel. The film follows Kurt Niles after he came back from the dead to seek revenge on the man who killed him. It resembles movies like Watchmen with its dark, graphic-novel vibe and gory, over-the-top content.

In the end, Rage took the Special Jury Prize, while the Grand Jury Prize went to Throne, and the Audience Award was given to Dot. The Audience Award was chosen after counting ballots that audience members filled out after the end of the second program.

Overall, SHOT FOR SHOT set out what it aimed to do — showcase the diverse creativity and talent of student filmmakers in the Pittsburgh area.