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Film festival to screen student projects

| Thursday, January 29, 2015

film-festival-webSusan Zhu

In celebration of the 26th annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center will screen undergraduate films created this past year in courses conducted through the department of film, television and theatre (FTT).

Professor Ted Mandell, who organized the inaugural film festival in 1990 and has coordinated all 26 screenings since, said the event is an entertaining experience.

“I’m pretty certain the audience will be impressed with the quality of the films … and they’ll get a chance to voice their opinion by voting for the Audience Choice Award,” he said.

Senior Eric O’Donnell and junior Maureen Gavin created a documentary for the festival, titled “Curry & Erin,” which follows the story of Nashville artist and ALS patient Erin Brady Worsham and her husband, Curry.

“Eric and I traveled to Nashville for fall break and shot our documentary over four days,” Gavin said. “We edited it over the next month and a half, meeting almost everyday for hours at a time. It was very much a partner process.”

Before traveling to Nashville, Gavin said she and O’Donnell anticipated their film would focus on Erin Worsham’s unique and intriguing artwork.

“That changed when we spoke with Curry the first night and began to watch them interact with each other,” Gavin said. “Yes, it is about a woman with ALS, but it’s also about the extraordinary love and sacrifice that exists between a husband and wife.

“It was honestly one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had, and I know Eric feels the same way. Two incredible people welcomed us into their home and we were allowed to capture a small piece of their lives.”

Gavin said the project required cutting and editing six hours of footage down to a ten-minute film.

“I don’t think I’ve ever put so much time and energy into something before, and I love that something tangible came out of it,” she said. “We both learned how important it is to stay open-minded when creating a film, particularly a documentary.”

Other films, such as “Cold Open,” created by juniors Lesley Stevenson and Brian Lach, enrolled the assistance of other students in the filmmaking process. (Editor’s note: Stevenson is the The Observer’s News Editor. Lach is the Multimedia Editor.)

Junior FTT major Jacob Schrimpf acted in the film, which he said tells the story of an ambitious actor who finds an unfinished script.

“It’s all about this actor’s struggle with finding work, how to become a successful actor again and coming to terms with his own struggles,” he said.

Although Schrimpf’s focus in FTT is acting, he said this was his first endeavor in film.

“I didn’t realize before how time consuming making a film is,” he said. “I knew it was a difficult process, but just the intricacy that has to go into every single detail of a film is remarkable … I was just there for a fraction of the process.”

Of the 11 films scheduled to run Thursday through Saturday, Schrimpf said the genres range from documentaries to dramas to comedies.

“[The film festival] is a cool way to see what do people in FTT do and also to see that students here can produce very professional work that’s interesting and engaging,” he said. “I think the work of the filmmaker is often underappreciated, but it really is a detail-oriented, time-consuming process.”

Through his role in “Cold Open,” Schrimpf said his respect for the filming process has increased immensely. He added that the film festival is also a unique opportunity to bring student work to the big screen.

Mandell said, “I’m hopeful, as in past years, that some of these films will be selected to be screened at other film festivals around the country.”

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About Carolyn Hutyra

Carolyn Hutyra serves as an Assistant News Editor for The Observer. She is a senior from Arlington Heights, Illinois studying Biology and Anthropology.

Contact Carolyn