A & E Editor
Film has the ability to present perspectives of individuals—perspectives that have yet to be heard. These perspectives are represented through one’s ability to capture shots that are capable of telling a story; one that would otherwise be lost if represented by words alone. At this year’s Student Film Festival on April 28, 2012 in the Mabel Brown Room, Keene State College students presented their senior film projects.
Each film possessed a reflection of each crew’s viewpoint and used characters, settings, and emotions to help tell the story they so wanted to be told. These senior film projects ranged from comedy, drama, to documentaries—all possessing their own unique voice. The projects were funded by the student crew members—each contributing their own allotted amount. With this funding, the crew decides how that budget will be used for filming. It was “The Big Story” that required the largest budget in order to make the film the crew desired.
Senior Ryker Kelvin directed the film “The Big Story,” which cost $13,500 to make, a sum that was made up by nine people. “The Big Story” focuses on a Boston news anchor named Jay Renthal, played by Neil Brown. Jay, originally an anchor at a big news station is transferred to a news station in rural Pakwa, N.H. There, Jay must learn how to tolerate the new surroundings he was thrown into.
The script, which was written by Ethan David, was originally a five-page treatment that evolved into a 30-page script, David said. David’s source of inspiration was derived from his own personal experience working at a news station. Two years ago, David worked for a news station, dealing with the news anchors, something he became more and more fascinated by. David knew this was a story he had to tell—a story filled with laughter that helps paint the story of Jay Renthal’s life and struggles as a news anchor.
“What makes Jay happy in the end? What is his big story? It wasn’t working in Boston, and it wasn’t having fame. It was getting along with the people around him, enjoying the company and his coworkers and his work,” Kelvin said during the question and answer session after his film’s debut.
The contrast of working at a big news station, living in a big city, to working at a small news station, living in a small town, was an element of irony that David wanted to include in his script he said. This element of irony is one that helps portray how Jay’s life has changed for the better.
But this transition of developing a whole new lifestyle is one that didn’t occur without a laugh full of mishaps. John Derba, a sound editor of “The Big Story” said, “Getting everybody to laugh and share in the humor that we tried to make was really worth it.” But for other senior filmmakers, the senior film project was not all about entertaining the crowd, for some it was about educating the audience on a topic they were not familiar with.
Tyler Norgeot directed and wrote his film “6-five-4.” “6-five-4” is a documentary about New Englanders who surf during the harsh winters. “I grew up in Cape Cod and have surfed my whole life,” Norgeot said during the Question and Answer session.
Norgeot said that the main production occurred over winter break from Rhode Island to Maine in an effort to expose the sport of winter surfing. The title of the film was named after a 6/5/4 wetsuit that is used during freezing cold temperatures. These wetsuits are made out of 6 mm, 5mm, and 4mm neoprene sheets that are worn when the water temperature drops below 48 degrees Fahrenheit.
“I’ve really sort of grown attached to what happens in the winter in Cape Cod, where a huge tourist population clears out and it’s just us. I really wanted to capture that in film,” Norgeot said.
However, for other student filmmakers the aspects of life they chose to capture differed. For Caitlin Eddolls the story she wanted to be heard involved depicting moments of a young woman’s life. Eddolls’ “Waiting for the Train,” featured protagonist Lola, who was an adopted child who grew up not knowing her biological father.
The film takes viewers on the emotional rollercoaster ride that is Lola’s quest to reconnect with her biological dad. Eddolls said that she came up with the original concept, but as the story unfolded, the plot evolved. Eddolls said that most of the script was improv. Like “Waiting for the Train,” “State of Liberty” was a film that was unplanned—rather the events that occurred directed the direction the film would take.
“State of Liberty” originally started out as an investigation into the free state project, Robert Paneck said.
“We wanted to investigate that concept and early on we realized that the activists operating out of Keene were sort of the subculture within the subculture. These specific activists were more geared towards media journalism, but also with an emphasis on civil disobedience, which I think is a really interesting concept,” Paneck said.
This 45-minute documentary sought to expose a group of activists’ attempt to make a social and political change to what is believed to be the “free-est” state in the country, New Hampshire. Paneck and his crew, along with the help of a grant of $1,500 from the school, sought out to capture how laws, regulations, and rules are being challenged and the consequences that result of challenging those laws that are believed to be morally unjust.
“I personally think it takes a lot of guts to stand up for something that you really truly believe in and take those repercussions when they come your way. So that’s what we wanted to investigate and that was sort of the evolution of an idea,” Paneck said during the question and answer session. The film, which followed issues such as Occupy Wall Street, the debate of Keene acquiring the BearCat, along with issues involving civil liberties, presented the crew with challenges they did not expect to encounter.
Drew Arvin of “State of Liberty” said that “This summer we are going to be hopefully entering it to the annual Portfest which is a libertarian festival in New Hampshire. It’s a chance that we are going to try and show this film to more free-staters.” The films, which took 9 months to create, 18-hour filming days, and for some 60 hours a week of editing, gave every crew member an experience—the experience of seeing one’s blood, sweat, and tears come to life in the form of film.
Derba said, “It was fun but it was really stressful, but it was all worth it in the end because you got to hear everybody laughing.”
Sam Norton can be contacted at