What does the term “student film” mean to you? At Chattanooga State for students in the Media Club and DV Filmmaking class it means fun and hard work.
This summer students in Chattanooga State’s Media Technology Program entered a 48 Hour Film Project in Nashville, TN. The team, led by Chris Willis, were largely students in the program’s two summer courses: Screenwriting and DV Filmmaking. Several actors were used from the Chattanooga State Professional Actor Training Program. Their film submission, Nude Art Class, was produced entirely–written, shot, and edited, within one 48 hour weekend, as required by the contest.
The writer of Nude Art Class, Ryan Hixson, was excited to see his idea come to life in the short timeframe. “The 48 Hour Festival is really rewarding. You get to see it [your idea] made into a film in 48 hours, so you really get to see your work displayed fast.” Students had to work together as a team, making compromises and contributions to the initial idea, and were willing to take direction from other students. “It was fun… everybody was operating together with a good energy,” says Ian Pearson, a co-star of the ensemble cast. Rodman Schweers, the director of photography, was especially impressed with how quickly the shooting went. “We put this thing together in 7 hours…because every single person did what they needed to do. It was completely a group effort,” says Schweers.
Micah Horvath, the editor for the team, thinks planning is the key to success. “I thought I had a good cut Saturday night, only to wake up and realize that I was so tired from working on it that we had to go back and re-do everything. Time, no matter how much you think you have, you could always use more.” In fact, the film was turned in with only 1 minute to spare at the drop-off point in Nashville. Final editing and burning of the DVD was completed in the car ride up and in a local McDonald’s.
Joshua Lawrence directed the film, which was his first time in this production role. “I learned that it takes a lot of pre-production to get something going and a good team, and when you get all that together you can really come up with a good end-product.” Much of the acting was improvisational, which can make directing either easier or harder. “It was fun. When you get to develop a character that doesn’t have any parameters, you get to do anything you want,” said Ian Pearson, who played Evan Minors, a character that was required to appear in every film of the 54 teams participating. Other required elements were to use a chess set as a prop, and the line, “It isn’t easy being me.” Also required was the genre of mockumentary, which the team leader chose from a hat. The film also included original music by local musicians, Ben Moore and Josh Davis.
The film, rated PG-13 for language, raised some eyebrows by some when it appeared on Youtube. This may earn it the initials NSFW, which means Not Safe for Work. However, with 2000 hits in only 10 days, viewers appear to be enjoying the film. Comments included, “Good job! It was entertaining, funny and moved well,” and, “That’s some classic stuff right there.”