By Alex Lingle
This article can also be viewed in Issue 13, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (April 14, 2016). Click here to view the entire issue.
On April 1 and 2, the 16th Annual DeSales Film Festival showcased 12 student produced films in the Gambet Business Center. Ranging from comedy to experimental, every short film showed the skill, talent, hard work and in-depth planning of the creative minds behind the projects.
Every year, a student committee made up of four seniors, three juniors, two sophomores and two freshman narrows down which films are shown at the festival. This year, 55 short films were submitted to the committee for review.
“Each year the committee gets better and better. A lot of the committee members are filmmakers so they’re passionate about their work,” TV/film Department Chair Chuck Gloman commented.
Film Fest Head Producer Chris Herre agreed.
“This is probably my favorite film fest,” Herre said. “There’s such a wide variety of films in this one. Sometimes in the past, you have a whole bunch of dance [films] or a whole bunch of comedy, but there’s so many different genres in this one.”
Herre is a senior this year. He’s been a member of the committee since his sophomore year and head producer since junior year, so he has a lot of experience.
“Taking it from 55 and bringing it down to 12, that was so hard. We watch all 55 films in one night and we all vote anonymously,” Herre said. “We send the top 20 to the teachers, and they kind of narrow it down to 12… They’re the 12 best ones we have.”
All the films were exemplary projects, but there are only three awards at the Film Festival. Best in Show and Honorable Mention were chosen this year by five time Emmy award-winner and DeSales alum Rocky Urich. The third award was an Audience Choice award. Brian Kissig’s “Code Rush” won Best in Show, Danny O’Keefe and Kissig’s “An Arm and a Leg” won Honorable Mention and the audience voted Chris Herre’s “Broken Chain” as their favorite film.
“Code Rush” is about two computer science nerds who take on a cyber terrorist frat in the digital world. The film was fun and masterfully made, with great special effects. Kissig had the idea a while back and intended to create a web series, but never got around to it. Come senior year, he decided that he had to make this film, and he and his crew did a fantastic job.
“An Arm and a Leg” shows a brief snapshot of an artist’s creative process as one of her scrapped ideas comes to life. As an audience member I really connected with the heart behind this film, and I really loved the use of animation in the story. O’Keefe and Kissig worked on this project together, and the planning and talent behind the film was very evident.
“Broken Chain” is a horror/suspense film that very much succeeded in making the audience jump. A college student sees a bleeding biker and becomes obsessed with finding the meaning of this premonition. Herre was the creative mind behind this film, and the suspense and horror elements work together to keep the audience very engaged with the story onscreen.
My personal favorite was Justin Smigley’s “Lapse.” The camera follows Smigley in the film in one long take as he watches himself re-enter the same room over and over. It’s a tough concept to explain, but I especially enjoyed the creative cinematography that made the two- to three-minute film feel like it was finished all in one take. There’s just something about small, creative and well done projects that always catches my eye.
Talent and passion were evident in every film. “Ella” by Megan Chiaravalloti tells the heartfelt story of an unexpected friendship between two hospitalized children. “Fragmented” by Richard Garrick is a dance film that showcased beautiful cinematography and creative dance movement. “Interviewers” by Alfred Greenbaum is a hilarious comedy piece with great comedic timing. “Raw” by Elliot Laubach is the most beautiful film out of the 12 as it focuses on life’s little wonders and magnifies them to the audience’s delight. “Game Night” by Edd Souaid is a hilarious story about a bitter lover’s “Dungeons & Dragons” revenge plot on her ex-boyfriend. “Love Yourself” by Kerry Quinn is a moving nonfiction project interviewing several people about their body image. “Tabloid” by Thomas Clark and Tyler Sherman is an abstract dance film that employs very creative and unique movement to commentate on media bias. Last but not least is the hilarious “Legend of Cool Chef McGee” by C.J. Bamert, a comedy about a breakfast chef who has to save the residents of Elder Valley from the evil breakfasts of an incompetent frog wizard.
“One thing about DeSales filmmakers, they love what they do. Once you see our students’ work, you realize why they love it… They do incredible work,” Gloman said. “Their excitement keeps me excited about this… Their passion hasn’t gotten old.”