People that choose to pursue film studies are typically those that are chasing their dreams, and to be able to create pieces of art that allow their dreams to blossom into reality is an extraordinary opportunity.
On February 3, to the pleasure of 200 guests, BrockTV hosted its seventh annual RenderThis Film Festival. The event showcased films made by students at both Brock University and Niagara College.
The evening began with a reception in the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre gallery space. There were appetizers, photographs on the ‘red carpet’ and a chance to speak to the student filmmakers themselves.
Following the reception, the festival’s hosts Ja’Miil Millar and David Berryman, whom are both employees of BrockTV, welcomed the guests, introduced the 17 submitted films, and gave out a series of audience prizes that included movie passes and BrockTV swag baskets. Furthermore, the night also crowned two people that were dressed as ‘Most Stylish’.
“BrockTV was founded 11 years ago to document students’ talents and experiences,” said Millar. “Every year we do our best to make the festival bigger and better. It’s always been a great way to bring people together and highlight student’s achievements.”
The chosen films ranged from two to 10 minutes in length and included a wide variety of genres such as horror, romance and mystery. For instance, one of the films entitled Memories, created by Evan Sitler and Harrison Olajous, was about the meaning of Christmas and was shot using 360 degree angle equipment. Other films such as Contract, by Daniel Cutajar, and Outbreak-Asylum, by Evan Forbes, featured action-filled sequences that drew the audience into the stories.
For the 17 films that were screened, there were 18 filmmakers ranging from first-year students to PhD candidates. At the end of the night, guests were asked to fill in a ballot voicing which film they enjoyed most and the three judges, professors from the film department, were separately asked to decide on which film they viewed as being of the highest quality in relation to entertainment value and cinematic achievement.
The two runner-up films for the Audience Choice were Nest, a film by Graham Smith which depicted a man gradually regretting his proposal to his girlfriend, and Origami, a film by Cory Maddalena which featured a man who created a swan origami which spoke to him as his consciousness.
The filmmaker who ended up taking home both the Audience Choice and Jury Prize awards was Alex Caucean, the creator of the short film entitled Stranger is Typing. The story was about a young man who was browsing online chat rooms to meet girls but his world quickly got turned upside down as he realized something was terribly wrong.
“My inspiration for the film actually came from my own experience,” said Caucean, who took home two trophies and $1100 in monetary prizes from BrockTV. “I used to go on online chat rooms and one time I noticed that the stranger’s webcam was frozen and that it would flicker until eventually it went black. Once it had gone black, it duplicated my webcam image and showed two versions of myself which honestly scared me and that’s where the original idea came from.”
“I felt very surprised when Stranger is Typing won both categories,” said Caucean. “When they announced the winner for Audience Choice, I was very happy and I really couldn’t stop smiling. I remember trying to figure out which other film won the Jury Prize in my head as the announcer said my film’s title for the second time. I didn’t understand what was going on for a minute or two, I was essentially in shock. It was a big surprise and I am very grateful that people liked my film.”
As student and indie filmmakers, these young professionals can often have a hard time attracting an audience.
“Just the opportunity to show an audience my film and hearing them scared and tense because of my film meant the world to me. It means that my hard work was well worth it and that I did something right,” expressed Caucean.
“If you are truly passionate about films and filmmaking then don’t let anyone stand in your way. Just keep creating content whether it’s a short film, a script or a feature film,” said Caucean. “In the end, you will find an audience whether it’s five people or a thousand, and as long as you have that passion to tell a story then your audience will come along.”