Teams participating in the K-State 48 Film Festival gathered in the Leadership Studies Building on Saturday to watch each other’s films and see which films were chosen as winners.
A panel of judges comprised of professional filmmakers decided on first, second and third place winners, while an audience choice award was voted on by students and community members attending the event.
The first-place winner was the team Couch for its film “Bluffing,” a comedic film about two men attempting to hide the freshly-murdered body of their friend’s brother during a weekly poker night.
Second place went to the team Story Arc for “The Sketch,” a lighthearted film with almost zero dialogue about an architecture student who can’t seem to find a quiet place to sketch an assignment. “The Sketch” also won the audience choice category.
The third-place winner was the team 48-Dominate for its film “Disconnected,” which depicted the same story line twice, showing how the ubiquitous presence and usage of smartphones and social media influenced characters, their actions and the world around them.
Rusty Earl, video producer for the K-State College of Education’s Catalyst Technology and Media Services and one of the head organizers for the film festival, said the judges were blown away by the submissions.
Jeff Carson, co-founder of Gizmo Pictures in Topeka, was a judge for the competition and is a filmmaker with more than 30 years of experience. He also delivered the keynote speech at the festival’s kickoff event.
“There are students here (at K-State) I’d like to work with someday,” Carson said.
Earl and the rest of the film festival organizers plan to turn the film festival into a recurring event.
“Now that we’ve done one, we have an example,” Earl said. “We have an example of how this event is run, and we have examples of films that work. I think the biggest thing we can improve on will be getting the word out earlier. We had a couple months this time, but I think if we can get out there sooner and spread the word, we might be able to get more people involved.”
Earl also said he was excited by the diversity of the teams that participated.
“We were pleasantly surprised at the range of students,” Earl said. “We had submissions from foreign students and students from classes like German and architecture. There are whole groups we didn’t know or think would have an interest in something like this. Knowing that, we can reach out to more diverse groups and get them involved.”
Story Arc, the team that won second place and the audience choice award, was comprised of students in the architecture program, and its name even reflected this, being a play on the word “architecture.”
Story Arc’s members were Shannon Hush, Nathan Long, Vy Nguyen and Ryan Hergott, who are all graduate students in the architecture program.
“We had to take a filmmaking class in architecture,” Long said. “So we all had a similar level of filmmaking experience and knew basic principles on how a film is put together.”
The team discussed its film, some of the decisions that went into it and some of what they learned through the process.
“Writing the story was difficult,” Hush said. “We had been brainstorming for awhile, but when Nathan, who had been at class, walked in, I knew he’d have something.”
Hergott said the two- to six-minute time limit was a challenge.
“One of the hardest parts was editing it down to meet the time requirements,” Hergott said. “The thing we liked about Nathan’s story was that it was a basically two-minute film that could go longer.”
Hergott said editing was a bigger undertaking than he initially thought.
“I thought editing would be about 25 percent of the process, so when Shannon had 50 percent of our time budgeted out for editing, I thought she was crazy,” Hergott said. “I think it ended up taking even longer than that.”
Long said the group had some additional challenges.
“Since we’re students, getting everyone in the same place and working around class schedules was something we had to deal with,” Long said.
He said another difficulty was getting natural audio. Most audio in the film was recorded separately and added later.
The film was light on spoken dialogue with only two lines, which served as vehicles for the line, “Make sure you’re right,” which was required as one of the three creative elements.
Long explained the film’s relative lack of dialogue.
“We’re not actors,” Long said. “We went with limited dialogue so we wouldn’t have to rely on our acting abilities to carry the film.”
This way, the team could play to its strengths and showcase its technical skills, Long said.
Hush said they “learned a lot of on-the-fly problem solving,” such as when the team had to cut scenes due to the library being closed.
The team will not be back next year, however, since all the members are graduating.
“We would do it again in a heartbeat, though,” Hush said. “It was a lot of fun.”
Earl said the film festival was a success.
“People are much more excited about film than even we thought,” Earl said. “I think this event shows that film is welcome on the K-State campus.”