Students battle time, sleep deprivation in ’48 Hour Film Festival’ (Review)

By Ian Beabout, Online Editor

On Sunday, September 18th, West Liberty students and professors alike gathered at the Marquee Cinemas in the Highlands to see the results of this year’s Second Annual 48 Hour Film Festival. With the salty smell of popcorn in the air amidst aspiring creative minds, nearly every theater seat was filled for the event.

There were two films shown this year, one for each team. The teams consisted of two students each who wrote, directed, produced and edited the films, though the teams were permitted to use additional students in the project. Each team gathered in the Fine Arts Lobby on Friday, September 16th, where they drew at random from categories such as genre, character, props and a line of dialog – all of which had to be incorporated into the films themselves.

Prior to the showings, both teams introduced their films and discussed the process they’d undergone in the 48 hours prior. “I’m a shell of the man I was,” one of the filmmakers in Team A was heard to quip, with both teams attributing sleep deprivation as an important factor in the creative process. In fact, Team B lamented pulling a 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. editing marathon in the Mac Lab, (thanking campus police for allowing them to use the space for the length of time) while Team A mentioned something about submitting their finished product at 5 p.m. The showing was set for 7.

Adjunct professor, Jared Thompson opens the proceedings

Team A, which consisted of Corey Knollinger and Dalton Kittle, drew the ‘horror’ genre, the character of a chef, a film camera and candlesticks prop and the line of dialog, “I’ll be right back.” The film ran about ten minutes and centered upon a chef performing a cooking show in West Liberty’s TV studio, and her infatuation with a food photographer who was oblivious to her advances. The film culminated with the photographer tied in the basement of the chef’s house and the chef uttering the chilling line “I’ll be right back” before the credits, leaving the piece on a disturbing cliffhanger.

I particularly enjoyed the suspense of the first film and the unpredictable story line. I appreciated the way the film left enough holes in the narrative to allow the audience’s imagination to fill in the blanks. Knollinger and Kittle also infused a healthy balance of humor and horror, while never resorting to familiar clichés in either genre. Though the settings were familiar and some of the audio had technical issues, I couldn’t help myself from getting locked into the piece and completely forgot it was a student production.

The second team, Team B, consisted of Callie Carroll and Brady Dunn.  The genre was comedy, the character was a hunter, the props were a coin bank and cassette tape, and the line of dialog? “Oh no he didn’t.” The film used some familiar locations, such as Ogelbay Park’s wooded path, and was a parody of the Snow White story. Snow White became Crystal White, the seven dwarves were battling vices such as an eating disorder, anger issues and a pornography addiction, and The Huntsman was an accountant named Hunt S. Man, who couldn’t operate a bow or navigate his way around a poisoned apple.

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The judges share their enthusiasm over student works

There were plenty of laughs and dark humor with this piece, but it didn’t quite capture my imagination like Team A’s film did. Despite this, it was a fine effort and demonstrated some clever use of the props. I particularly enjoyed the use of the Bible on cassette tape, which served as this adaptation’s “mirror mirror, on the wall.”

Following the showings, the judges left the room and we were treated to last year’s winning film, The Little Things – which can be viewed here. Upon their return, the judges gave enthusiastic reactions to both of the films, pointing out many of their favorite elements. Trophies were presented to the teams based on the categories, with the winners in the four categories split 50/50. Best of dialog and genre went to Team A; best of character (Hunt S. Man) and props went to Team B.

The judges finally announced Team A as the overall winner and presented Knollinger and Kittle with the award of $500, while second place Team B took home $300. The real winners, of course, were the audience, who were witness to over 20 minutes of creative and off-beat work from talented student artists.