Posts Tagged ‘student film fest’

Student Film Screenings Unite, Excite

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

(far R) Scarlett wrote/directed Penelope; Laura wrote/directed/sang Rockstars; Malcom produced Fitz; while Sorrelle (far L) acted in Dead Serious. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

I like coming to opening nights. Everything is always edgy and raw. Bugs need to be worked out, things don’t always go the right way, but there’s an electricity in the air. You were there and You Saw it First.

Friday night was Opening Night of the Film Screenings at Idyllwild Arts. There were four shorts and one super-short, or a 3-2-1. The short films included: “Penelope,” “Fitz,” “Dead Serious” and “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience,” all created by women writer-directors. And the super short was entitled, “Bonding at Breakfast.”

You gotta love the Film Department at Idyllwild Arts. They really “roll out the red carpet” for these films. While people are standing in line, they’re treated to exceptional jazz music from the Jazz Department, stand on a red carpet and buy standard concessions, which includes popcorn, pop and chocolates. Proceeds go to help fund an upcoming film trip to Ethiopia.

If you’re planning on going to Saturday nights’ Film Screening, plan to come 30 minutes early. No kidding, it’s essential to stand in line to get a seat, or you’ll be standing in the back row. As you head down the hallway towards the theater,  try not to pick your nose or say anything embarrassing because “You’re on Candid Camera!”

(from L) Giovanna and many of the other dance students were extras in the films

Things went reasonably well for Opening Night. There was a schedule change. “Penelope” would be the first film, followed by “Fitz.” After intermission, “Dead Serious” would be first, and then Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience.”

Because it was unexpected, “Bonding Over Breakfast,” a short short (or 3-2-1) by Alexa, was delightful. Like getting a free bon-bon. It featured Melanie, a Theater major, as the mother, and a young girl as her daughter. All I can say is that girl was wonderful, bright and wise beyond her years.

Melanie, a theater major, plays a single mom in Alexa's short, "Bonding Over Breakfast"

“Penelope,” written and directed by Scarlett, actually started out as a conversation with her father as they were listening to the song, “Penelope” on the radio.

“This would make a good movie,” both had agreed. Fast forward six months, and Scarlett’s father is gone, but not the dream for the movie. In short, it’s gonna be a tear jerker.

Set in WWII, Penelope, a nightclub singer, meets Elijah, and falls in love. Then Pearl Harbor is attacked, and the U.S. enters the war. Elijah leaves in full uniform, and Penelope’s world crumbles.

All I can say is that 20 minutes of “Penelope” is not long enough. I could have used about 20 minutes more. It was romantic, tragic and beautifully acted and filmed.

(from L) Michel, Peter and Harold all played extras in the films. Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

Scarlett made a good choice in selecting Paley as her lead and Analia Lenchantin,a classical pianist and actor from Argentina who now lives in Idyllwild.

As Penelope, Paley’s voice sounds like it’s whiskey and cigarette tainted. Her face expresses every complicated emotion. However, we wouldn’t expect anything less. Paley’s got good genes. Her mother is a famous comedic actress in Mexico.

If Scarlett decides to expand “Penelope” into a feature film, it has my vote.

A lot of the other students thought “Fitz” was the best film of the night.

“It had everything,” exclaimed Benny, a classical music major. “The story was great, and the lighting and the cinematography were spectacular!”

Benny was seated next to Andrew Leeson, a Creative Writing staff member, who agreed.

“Yep, that’s the one,” Andrew said.

“Fitz,” was written by Brit, produced by Malcom, filmed by Kai and edited by Paris.

In his opening remarks, Malcom gave the audience part of the back story.

(from L) Three for "Fitz," including Malcolm as producer, Kai as cinematographer, Gabby as lead actor. Sorrelle (far R) acted in "Dead Serious" Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts

“Brit brought Kai and I the script, and said that she had written it over the summer and wanted us to take a look,” Malcom said.

They did, and told Ira Abrams about it, who agreed it was a gem.

Fitz, short for Fitzgerald, is a co-ed boarding school, much like Idyllwild Arts. The only exception is the uniforms. “Fitz” centers on one newcomer, (exceptionally portrayed by Michael Minor, a classical bass player).

It’s hard to imagine that Michael Minor was just a bass player, until this movie came along. He had never acted before, and to take the lead was nothing short of astounding. Some people are just natural actors, and Michael is one of them.

(from R) Brooke (shown with actor Joe Spano) plays the lead in Ellen's movie,"Dead Serious." Courtesy photo.

Anyway, the story is about students who overcome an overbearing headmaster and take over the school. The cast of local talent shines, including headmaster.

“Dead Serious,” is a female teen angst film, complete with mean girls and a tragedy.

“It’s a black comedy,” Andrew Leeson explained, as  I complained that the mother was so callous.

Brooke was spectacular as the nice girl who gets bullied. Like Greta Garbo, the camera loves her face.

Madi, a Creative Writing major, was good as the Mean Girl. All of us have been bullied some time in our youth. Hats off to Sorrelle, one of Madi’s friends, who continually “hisses” at Brooke, like a pissed-off cat.

“Rockstars: The Pete Weaver Experience,” the fourth and final show, features a young boy who dreams of becoming a rock star. Hard to imagine the script from this show was originally about a poet who sent off his poems into the universe via helium balloons.

(from L) Melanie and Brit, who wrote and directed "Fitz." Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

In the storyline. a young writer is at odds with his father who owns a Camero body shop. More than anything, he’d rather be writing and playing rock songs. Naturally, his dad wants him to focus on the task at hand.

However, when Pete has a chance to meet one of his rock star idols (played by dance instructor Jonathan Sharp), he takes a risk that changes his outlook.

It should be pointed out that Conor O’Farrell, an accomplished TV, film and screen actor, plays an exceptional grease monkey father. He notes his son’s artistic dreams, and makes a deal that could help him.

Laura wrote and sang songs for her film, "Rockstars: The Pete Weaver Experience." Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

Writer-director Laura, not only plays his onscreen love interest, but also writes and records songs. In essence, “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience” is about her, and other songwriters, trying to make their mark on the world.

In short, the four, shorts shown at the Idyllwild Arts’ “Film Screenings 2011” are outrageous, funny and dramatic. They will make you laugh, cry and left longing for more!

Saturday night’s Student Film Screenings starts at 7:30 p.m. at the IAF Theater on campus. All shows are free and open to the public. Arrive early to get a good seat.

For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Published on: May 28, 2011 @ 8:47

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