310 Screenings – The CelebritySC Takes

by Danny Kim (As originally posted on the now-defunct CelebritySC) Twice a semester, the CTPR 310 production students host a screening to showcase their work. On Sunday, March 18th, the first 310 screening of the semester took place at Norris Cinema Theatre, and CelebritySC was there to bring you the scoop. It was a real pleasure to see the hard work of all the 310 students on display, and their excitement and glee was truly infectious throughout the entire screening. Below are quick reviews of each of the films screened on the 18th, accompanied by stills of the films themselves (courtesy of the filmmakers). All of the films have their own unique combination of strengths and weaknesses; however, there was a common trend among many of them. A lot of films seemed to put too much attention on the visual aspect of “visual storytelling”, achieving beautiful shots but sacrificing the story in the process. Abrupt endings seemed to be the order of the day, as did plot holes and just unclear plots in general. The sound in a lot of the films also left something to be desired, as well, with reverb and mixing issues in some, bad effects work in a couple, and distortion in others.

PURPLE

The Doll


Written/Directed by Kevin Matré, Photographed/Edited by Edwin Mangassarian
Beautiful film. Vibrant colors, clever depth-of-field effects, and a beautiful score combine to really create a sense of childish innocence and wonder. Great casting, and the child actors put on a terrific performance; however, there are too many static shots, and shot variety is lacking; a shortage of closeups – even on the eponymous doll itself – means that the film struggles to establish a truly intimate connection between the audience and the children onscreen.

Me 1, You 0


Written/Directed by Bubba Fish Photographed/Edited by Ashton Oh

Brilliant. Very well written, humorous and witty, displaying great pop-culture and nerd-culture awareness. The film perfectly captures the campy-corny absurdity of music videos of the genre – I can totally see people watching this on VH1 or something. There are a few things to nitpick about in the sound, such as the reverb on the dialogue in the beginning of the short, but otherwise, wow. The only real “problem” with the Me 1, You 0 is that it’s in HD and not on VHS.


Dorian

Written/Directed by Amelia Swedeen Photographed/Edited by Alyssa Litman Great production design – the costumes and sets are perfect. However, some flaws in cinematography and an unclear story prevent Dorian from reaching its full potential. It’s clear that the film aims to blend an industrial, steampunk look with old-fashioned elements, but it doesn’t quite succeed. The score works perfectly, but the sound work leaves something to be desired. All the right components are there – maybe except the super-sketchy looking bomb prop – , but without a solid story to act as the glue, they fail to really come together.

Shadows

Written/Directed by Darius Turbak, Photographed/Edited by Jordan McKittrick Clever writing, good direction, and appropriately over-the-top performances by the actors really breath life into Shadows. Of all the films, Shadows definitely deserves a mention for sound design – clever use of building noises really gives the shadow characters weight and presence. Also, kudos for the brilliant, Apple-esque animated sequence with the dancing shadow. Great overall package.

Mr. Cooper

Written/Directed by David Gutierrez, Photographed/Edited by Shravya Chavva The story has great emotional premise, and Mr. Cooper sets really high expectations from the get-go, with great casting and production design – the actors and the locations all have just the right look of weariness. The film uses lighting very effectively to establish the boundaries of the film world. However, the story feels awkwardly paced, with too much emphasis on the events surrounding the “That’s my father” revelation, and not enough time spent on the moment the revelation occurs itself.


Curse of the Golden Orb

Written/Directed by Jonah Feingold Photographed/Edited by Monica Salazar Great casting of the “neighborhood kids,” very reminiscent of Super 8. It’s clear that the film aims to invoke memories of the greats like The Goonies and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and at that it succeeds. The film embraces pastiche and celebrates its silliness. Clever dialogue? Check. Faux-Indy style adventure music? Check. Combine all this with great presentation values and you have a strong, well-rounded film.

Stela’s Kite

Written/Directed by Jared Martin, Photographed/Edited by Eitan Almagor This film does a great job of capturing the mother-daughter relationship and its development – great casting and convincing performance by the actors certainly help in this. However, the story is a little questionable. The titular kite is a MacGuffin, and there is no background on the family dynamics – we see plenty of the mother-daughter relationship (the nature of which can still be confusing at times) and a photo of the father and daughter, but there’s no mention of the mother-father dynamic. Solid film on the whole, but some more fleshing out of the family would’ve made this even better.

A Wonderful World

Written/Directed by Tyhefe Bayliss, Photographed/Edited by Bobby Guard Great casting and stellar chemistry between the actors. The actors’ performances are so great that they make the score redundant at times – while well done, there are several bits where all the score does is interrupt the perfect dramatic mood set by the actors, even pushing the film teeteringly close to melodrama at times. The action sequences were expertly paced and very well edited, but the crowning achievement of A Wonderful World is how it successfully captures raw emotion.


Parting

Written/Directed by William Weggel Photographed/Edited by Christine Karaoglanian Great location, the hospital room and all the props and costumes look really convincing. The actors, while they have the right look, put on a less than convincing performance, feeling a little too artificial most of the time. My main complaint with the film is its colors – the hospital setting’s overabundance of pale, neutral colors result in a very uninteresting color palette. However, the emotional aspect is still there, even if its not a particularly deep level, and the film tells a very clear story. —–

GREEN

Vatic Edge

Written/Directed by Steven Gibbon, Photographed/Edited by Nydia Calón The sound design was a little repetitive at the beginning, with the ringing/”whoosh” transition effect becoming old real quick. But once the film reaches the fight sequence, the sound design really shines and gives the fight a lot of “oomph.” Toss in some great editing and the fight really comes to life. The story is a little confusing and kinda pointless in the end, but the fighting is what’s really on show here.  The perfectly suited eletronic/ambient score further accentuates the gritty, edgy feel of the film.

Blowing in the Wind


Written/Directed by David Bolen Photographed/Edited by Rachel Gist
Great casting, especially for the male lead. Good shot variety, and clear cinematic nod to True Grit. Kudos for visual/stylistic achievement on the whole – the shots, the characters, the props, everything looks right. However, I do have to say that while the location was great “geologically,” with cliffs and beautiful vistas, in terms of color, everything looked a little too saturated, lush, and green for the setting that was being implied.

Vanilla

Written/Directed by Miguel G. Bituin III, Photographed/Edited by Rakan Rocky Faraj
Often times, people frown upon using locations that are clearly near or on campus in films. However, there’s nothing to frown upon here; if anything, it’s this very familiarity in setting combined with the relatable youth of the actors that lends Vanilla its realistic, haunting quality. The film leaves you looking over your shoulder the next time you make a phone call outside. The story is clean, well paced, and told in an interesting, if slightly unwieldy, order.

Mehdi

Written/Directed by Ali Kareem, Photographed/Edited by Shane M Habberstad Good location choice, really has the feel of a arid countryside affected by war. The harshness of the setting is effectively contrasted by the Mehdi’s innocence and his relationship with Ahmed, with the actors portraying both putting on a stellar performance. The big problems really come up in the latter half. The fight sequence, while well edited, turns out less than convincing, and while the film deserves credit for really making the audience feel it when Ahmed is shot, the ending is abrupt and leaves a lot to be desired.

The Baptism

Written/Directed by Kimberly Vanni, Photographed/Edited by Ayesha Massaquoi The film flirts with religious themes but keeps it a classy and heart-warming tale of a daughter wanting to help her mother. The child actress who plays the daughter puts on a particularly notable performance. Beautiful photography overall, probably the best among the films in this group. The scenes involving water are especially beautiful, with the underwater shots effectively invoking the image of rebirth and stealing the show in the process. The only real downside is the abrupt ending.

Recommence

Written/Directed by Maicon Desouza, Photographed/Edited by Mustafa Eck Recommence is another film whose major strength is its ability to capture, portray, and invoke emotion. The relationship between the father and the son is pretty straightforward – abusive drunkard dad and son, violence occurs – , but it’s in their reactions to what transpires that there is a lot emotional depth. The son has a really believable look of panic after he hits his dad with a baseball bat, and the father really feels like he’s changed as a person after his son’s death. The significance of the title is never really fleshed out, but solid film overall.

Kingpin

Written/Directed by Peter Lansworth, Photographed/Edited by Jack Heston Puts off a unique sophisticated vibe, captures the mood of an urban drama really well. Wonderful establishing shots really gives the film a sense of place. Great casting for both the reporter and his nemesis – the kingpin’s voice is a perfect, slightly raspy, sinister baritone. The maturity, looks, and character of both actors impute themselves onto the film and lend a very grown-up feel to the film.

Cherchez La Femme

Written/Directed by Spencer Hord, Photographed/Edited by Alan Boyu Wang
Props for stellar visual effects – it really looks professional. Great use of color as well; the room where the main character is being held is very rich and pleasant to look at, and the pale whiteness of the captive character contrasts really well against the dark wood of the room. The film is also mostly very well written, the awesome scotch-fire-blast and the clever twist at the end. Top it off with great actors and you’ve got a great film. —–

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