Thomas Moran | Arts and Life Editor
In 1999, Baylor film students held the first Black Glasses Film Festival to provide students with the opportunity to share their film creations with a wider audience. Since then, the festival has grown to be a competitive and widely anticipated event among the students in the film and digital media department and beyond. This year marks the festival’s 20th anniversary, and students are gearing up for the event, which will take place April 27 at the Hippodrome Theatre in downtown Waco.
Maverick Moore, film and digital media lecturer, is coordinating the event and, with the rest of the department staff, helped select the films being featured.
The department received many film submissions this year, making for one of the most competitive years yet, Moore said.
“We judge them on merits of production quality, on story quality, on artfulness, on a wide range of factors that we put into consideration,” Moore said. “From that consensus, we then selected films to be included. It was very fierce competition this year — probably one of the most fierce competitions this year. We had to turn down a lot of really good films this year.”
This year’s festival will feature 17 total short films of varying length across an array of genres and styles.
“We have documentaries. We have narratives. We have more experimental film,” Moore said. “We have a wide range of films that all kinds of people can enjoy. The festival fits all kinds of taste.”
Waco senior Andy Racoti will have two short films featured in the upcoming festival. The first film, a fantasy western called “The Man with Bloody Tears,” was also featured in the recent Deep in the Heart Film Festival. His second film, “Decay,” is a horror film and will be premiering at Black Glasses.
“I’m kind of nervous about the premiere because ‘Decay’ was based on a nightmare I had,” Racoti said. “It’s kind of a more personal story. I get the reactions that I want from people, which is like pained surprise.”
Racoti said he wanted to keep the meaning somewhat vague so that viewers might be able to derive their own meaning from the film.
“That’s what I like with my films. I like people thinking and people putting themselves in those situations,” Racoti said. “I don’t like the clear-cut answers. I feel like that’s lazy, and I don’t think people watch movies for clear-cut answers.”
Matthew Aughtry works for Baylor Marketing and Communications but is also working toward his Master of Arts in Film and Digital Media. Aughtry directed a short documentary called “How Profound Our Hope,” which features a Silver Spring, Maryland, Ph.D. candidate Malcom Foley.
“I actually originally made it for Baylor marketing, and it was accepted as a short documentary for the competition,” Aughtry said. “I mainly make a lot of two to three-minute documentaries profiles on faculty and alumni and such. I thought this might actually work just as a short documentary, and it got in.”
Back in the fictional realm, “ULTRAVIOLET,” is a psycho-thriller directed by Dallas senior Joy Schmitz, and will also be featured in the film festival.
“My short film is a psychological thriller about female body image that mainly follows the story of two different characters, their relationship and how they see themselves and other people,” Schmitz said.
Though the film was made in conjunction with a short film production class, the film was less an assignment and more of a project with great personal significance, Schmitz said.
As unique as the films they’ve made, each of the directors has unique methods and processes of creating a film from start to finished product. For Racoti, most of his films originate as rough sketches in his many notebooks.
“I keep a bunch of journals and notes, and I start with sketches,” Racoti said. “I love to draw, so I start with storyboarding. I try to figure it out visually, and then I go ahead and start writing the script. Then I go back to storyboarding after I have it all written down, and I flesh it out a bit more … That’s my process. Super messy. But the end result is a little more cleaned up.”
While some might suggest starting with a concept or storyline first, Schmitz uses an alternative process.
“I start with a title, which sounds really weird,” Schmitz said. “But there will be a title that I find very interesting like “ULTRAVIOLET.” Then I go about think about an issue or topic that I want to look into. From that, I was in a class called Short Film Production, taught my Maverick Moore and Sam Henderson. Through that class, I was able to create my idea.”
Many classes in the department work together to help students produce their films.
Regardless of the genre, style or creative process of the film, anticipation and excitement is growing as the festival nears.
“It’s great this year to be a part of it because I’ve gone for the past two years just to support it and see what was going on,” Aughtry said. “Baylor film and digital media is part of the reason I came to Baylor. It’s great to finally feel a part of it, and that’s what I feel, especially being a part of Black Glasses.”
As the 20th year of the festival, the department is holding special events including a dinner, reception and panel to celebrate the milestone. But ultimately, the event is geared toward the students.
“Black Glasses is a great resource because it allows students to have their films seen on a big screen in front of a big audience so you see what it’s like and how people react to it, and it gives them an opportunity to know how to behave professionally and showcase their film professionally at a film festival,” Moore said.
After the one-night event, films will be awarded for best cinematography, editing, screenplay, audience and best picture, each with a cash prize.