“Like any other art form, filmmaking really is a love, a devotion and a potential cause of sacrifice,” says Pam Su ’05, whose experimental film, No. 80 will be one of seven student films being shown on Friday, May 13 at the Kiplinger Theatre.
The end product of FILM 493: Advanced Film & Digital Video Projects, taught by Marilyn Rivchin, the student films being shown are the result of multiple months of hard work, according to Zach Jones ’06, Sun associate editor, whose own film Maggot Brain will also be shown. A course primarily aimed at experienced filmmakers accustomed to camera work and editing, FILM 493 required that all students propose a film topic, narrative, experimental, documentary-styled or otherwise and spend the rest of the semester working on said film. Other than group discussions aimed at providing filmmakers with the advice of peers, students also offered each other support by working on the crews of their peers in addition to their own films.
Dan Cohen, ’05 chose to construct his film, Artistic Differences, as a self-described “dark satire on student filmmaking.” The meta position Cohen takes is the result of a decision to produce the film as the manifestation of a self-parody. Said Cohen, “I was trying to make fun of myself.” Characterizing Artistic Differences as being clearly distinguishable from his previous film efforts, Cohen explains that this was the first time he had worked with actors. “It was a really good learning experience and I just wish I had the time to make another movie — I just learned so much from the process and there were a lot of things I wanted to do that I didn’t.”
Infusing the film with different aspects of the unconventional, Cohen chose to populate Artistic Differences with not-so-nice people, dark characters that “no one would like.” He also experimented with points of view and the audience perspective. While the components may hint at a touch of cynicism, Cohen reassures audiences that the main message at hand is to “be happy with yourself.”
Also producing a narrative comedy, Eduardo Wong ’05 aims to veer away from the brooding work typically lauded by film critics. “I’m just trying to make people laugh,” said Wong. In his film, Academic Sabotage, a premed student named Eric hires a man named Will to essentially sabotage Lydia, an acquaintance of Eric since childhood who shares his academic path but has always succeeded where he has failed, “And then everything goes awry. Presenting a different verdict than the one Hollywood usually reserves for so-called stupid comedies, Wong theorizes that even these productions are pieces of original work and don’t deserve the typically large amount of criticism thrown their way.
Approaching the project with a different perspective, Andy Guess ’05, Sun columnist, produced a documentary called Confederates in the Backyard: An Upstate New York Story. “I was intrigued and interested by the perception of people who live in Upstate New York,” explained Guess, whose film centers on a the story of a family living half an hour outside of Ithaca in a house with a huge Confederate flag on it.
Su’s No. 80 is a more theoretical product, a personal experimental film focused on the ideas of impermanence and departure. Shot entirely on ektachrone film, which resulted in much more saturated colors and filmed primarily within a subway, Su’s film communicates ideas concerning movement and “the strange feeling of connections and misconnections and solitude.”
Exhibiting a contemplative stance towards the art of filmmaking, Su lends a sense of approval to the whole creative process, adding that “despite some obstacles that you may have to go through, you also have to accept your accidents because usually the best results come out of them. She further explained, “Filmmaking can be a solitary art form but it is also about collaboration. Then it becomes great fun and you learn a lot from others but you have to be vulnerable and susceptible to new things.”
Other films that will be screened in the series include “escaleNO” by Dani Sanchez-Lopez and “The Origin of Atherton” (adapted from “The Death Ray” by Dan Clowes) by Pietre Valbuena ’05.
Archived article by Tracy Zhang and Logan Bromer