Students showcased at Black Glasses film festival

By Bonnie Berger

Inspiring cinematography, captivating characters and compelling scripts meld for an evening of entertainment at the 12th annual Black Glasses Film Festival at 7 p.m. Friday in Kayser Auditorium.

Sponsored by the communication studies department, the festival provides students with an outlet to display their films and interact with the audience during the process.

“We want to showcase our students to the Baylor community and to the rest of Waco,” said Dr. James Kendrick, assistant professor of film and digital media. “Here, you’re sitting in a room with almost 300 to 350 people responding to your film, which is a very unique experience.”

This year’s 16 student submissions range from stop motion to dramas. Students are allowed free reign with their content, allowing them to experiment with tough topics they deem pertinent.

“We take the view that we want our students to explore all kinds of themes and some of those themes have harder edges to them,” Kendrick said. “As far as content goes, we don’t have any hard and fast parameters … but we do take that into account when we’re judging the films and making our selections.”

Prizes are include best picture, editing, cinematography and an audience choice award, where patrons can participate to vote for their favorite film. A faculty panel judges the initial submissions and also determines the festival’s prizewinners.

“We try to have a wide range of films but at the end we’re selecting what the panel thinks are the best films that come in that year, so if one student has two really good films, we’ll take that into consideration,” Kendrick said.

The festival boasts a screenwriting component, also. Prizes are awarded to the top three scripts, said Chris Hansen, associate professor and director of the film and digital media department.

“We call it the ‘First Ten Pages competition,’” Hansen said. “As the saying goes in Hollywood, if your first 10 pages aren’t great, you’re not going to read any further than that, so we encourage students to submit their first 10 pages for review.”

Although submissions include underclassmen’s work, the festival gives seniors a chance to shine before moving on to graduate school or careers after graduation.

As Dallas senior Ben Davis nears graduation, he wanted to share his films with the Baylor community before starting graduate school.

“That’s the reason I didn’t choose any products that I made for Baylor classes, because I wanted it to be new stuff they hadn’t seen before and I hadn’t had the chance to show before,” Davis said.

Davis will show a short film entitled “Exodus,” as well as a trailer for a feature film, “American Cliché.” A collaborative effort between friends, the short won the audience award and best cinematography award during 2009 Austin 48 Hour Film Festival, in which participants must write, shoot and edit a short in 48 hours.

“It’s about a news reporter who, in a post-apocalyptic future, is under a really oppressive government,” Davis said. “He starts publishing these stories about the government and they try to stop him from leaking these secrets of this nation … if he does, then it will spark this mass exodus.”

Drawing inspiration from movies such as “V for Vendetta,” Davis and his friends creatively worked within the Austin competition’s parameters.

“We had to use a Sci-Fi theme, one character had to be a blogger, and we had to use a certain line…we just put all those things in the blender and ideas started to come out.”

Although proud of his earlier work, Davis’ attention focuses on his upcoming feature. Centered on a high school student, David Bennett, grappling with the question “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”

American Cliché follows the events of an unforgettable night culminating Bennett’s last four years in high school.

“My main goal was to have the trailer finished [for Black Glasses],” Davis said. “We really wanted to launch that, to have the trailer play here. I really wanted to get the Baylor community behind the feature.”

Davis aspires to return to Baylor for a screening of his feature following completion in September.

In addition to live action, students experimenting with stop motion and other graphic mediums will share their work at the event. Audiences will encounter a film shot entirely in front of a green screen, utilizing computer-generated backgrounds, Kendrick said.

“Audiences can expect to laugh,” Hansen said. “We try to program a variety of films that appeal to different audiences so we have sci-fi, we have dark and mysterious drama, we have a period piece set during World War II that’s a really intense drama we have some light comedy, and a lot of students dabbling with graphic effects. You really get the whole gamut of what these students are learning and experiencing.”

Tickets are available from the communication studies office in 150 Castellaw Communications Center for $5 for adults and $3 for students, children and seniors.