Film students join forces to shoot short films in two-class coordination

The "He's Hiring" short film crew gathered for a meeting Wednesday night to discuss their project. The group intends to have a cast and crew made up of all women. Ava Sanborn | Photographer

By Carson Lewis | Assistant Digital Managing Editor

With only a $400 budget and limited time, the crunch is on for Film and Digital Media students working in groups from two separate classes.

While students in one class, Short Film Production, are developing film stories, their group mates in another class, Film Production & Set Management, are learning about the various positions on a film set, preparing to maintain and order the chaos of shooting. These two classes will work together to produce short films.

According to Film Production & Set Management professor Daniel Beard, the successful cooperation of creatives and set managers is essential to a successful project.

“A film is a group dynamic, and the thing is that you have to learn how to work in a group dynamic. The best way to do that is to create a chain of command or a hierarchy,” Beard said. “It’s not that the director’s job is more important than… a production assistant’s job. They both have really important jobs, and without them, the film lacks.”

Even a short three to five minute film can take over six hours of shooting time, not including the hours put in outside of the filming days. For this project, the students will have to create a product of eight to 12 minutes in length.

One of the groups is working on a short film with the working title “He’s Hiring,” a comedy about a girl interviewing for the position of God, who has resigned and left the heavenly position open to applicants. The group said that if they enter the film into festivals, they believe comedies will be easier to win with than dramas.

Locust Valley, N.Y., sophomore Aspen Collings, a student in Short Film Production, is a part of the group, developing a film with the intention of having the production be an all-female cast and crew.

“We were hoping to do an entirely female cast. Our whole production team is also female, and if they’re extras we’ll just make them girls too. I feel like if it was all [male] extras it wouldn’t stand out, it would just be normal,” Collings said. “The fact that it’s female should make it stand out more. It shouldn’t, but it will.”

While optimistic about their chances about being able to accomplish this, Denton senior Elisha Hanes, a student in the Film Production & Set Management class said that it might be a little more challenging to implement with all the scheduling needed for the project.

“We want it to be majority female. Working with varying schedules, it might just end up being a majority instead of fully female, just depending on a variety of factors. But that’s the goal,” Hanes said.

Collings said that their group might find challenges down the line in simplifying their pitch and project, as their group can be too focused on the little details.

“With short films — the best ones, the oscar-winning ones — they’re all so simple. One concept. The story can be said in two sentences,” Collings said. “We need to work on getting the bones of our project before we get carried away with all the pretty stuff.”

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 and the increased precautions levied upon them due to the pandemic, students in both classes had intentions to pursue their creative projects to their fullest.

Southlake senior Devan Zenuk said that she doesn’t see the looming danger of COVID-19 shutdowns as a major threat, saying that she doesn’t feel that it will be that much of a hassle if the project moves online. Zenuk said that the film likely wouldn’t have changed even if the pandemic had never happened.

Hanes said that she can see the film doing very well, and applauded the work already done by her peers.

“After having our first meeting today, I feel like Aspen and Devan have a really strong sense of what style they want to go for which I just love … I believe we’ll be able to create that style pretty well, which is exciting,” Hanes said.