With the Savannah Film Festival just around the corner, a few lucky students anxiously await the results for the Break Into The Spotlight Bumper Contest. The winner of the contest will have their bumper played during the festival as well as receiving a golden pass to the events. The winner will be announced at the start of the festival, though voting is now closed.
I was fortunate enough to get behind the scenes of a few of the videos with the help of some very enthusiastic finalists. First-year visual effects graduate student Stephen Withers, who submitted “The Magic of Film,” and collaborated on “Frames,” Charlie Curran and Emily Van Horn, both first-year film majors who created “The Movement Image,” shared their experiences and secrets of this year’s Bumper Contest.
Withers’ bumper is dedicated to the magic of film, and is a tribute to the tricks of the early 1900’s. It shows a black and white comedic sequence where a crew is filming an impossible croquet shot while exposing primitive special effects that used to seem like magic to the audience.
In discussing his inspiration, Withers said, “There is an early visual effects pioneer called Georges Melies, a French director, and he’s credited with creating the first special effects tricks in the 1910s. I was watching some of his work and I thought I could do something related to that. I wanted to portray the magic of film, how it can create magic and sort of the tricks that go on behind the scenes.”
Withers’ professor, Joerg Schodl, required his graduate film class to create bumpers as an assignment. By working on this project in class, he had the benefit of seeing other students’ ideas as well.
When asked about their input, Withers said, “I came up with the concept and a classmate suggested to have the comic interaction between the director and the croquet player.”
While discussing the outcome, he attributed most of his success to his team.
“This is the first film project that I’ve done that’s turned out exactly how I wanted it to,”
he said. “Actually everything went very smoothly. I’d have to give credit to the people I was working with more than anything else.”
Withers also worked on the finalist bumper “Frames,” which was directed by fellow classmate David Kendall.
Charlie Curran and Emily Van Horn, however, used a different approach for the contest.
Instead of having it as an assignment, Curran said, “We heard a lot about the film festival. Everybody we talked to said it was really cool and we should try to get involved with it.”
After deciding to volunteer, they were browsing which movies to help out with and they stumbled upon the Bumper Contest.
Both film majors, they took Curran’s camera and started shooting anything and everything.
“We shot a bunch of different things and were really looking for inspiration around Savannah,” Van Horn said.
“Emily and I talked about what cinema meant to us. We wanted to pay homage to the illusion that allows us to see movement,” Curran added.
With their fresh take on the art of cinema and the contest’s colorful, youthful angle, they created a film with a big secret. The bumper is a kaleidoscope of colors in a choppy, frame-by-frame scene with a girl wandering in and out of sight. This girl happens to be Van Horn.
The team revealed the importance of a quote by Gregory Flaxman, “Cinema provokes us to see, to feel, to sense and finally to think differently.”
This appears in sections throughout the bumper and ties the simplicity together with their message.
“Often with film people get so bogged down with things all over the place. Sometimes the best things are one simple shot, something interesting and something that means something. Putting the quote out there tied it together, the simplicity, the simplicity of film,” Van Horn said.
The two first-year students managed to have an exciting adventure through this city, where everything was new to them, and in the process became one of the five finalists.
“I think it’s a great way to get involved in the film community and especially the school as incoming film students. It’s really fun to even be apart of the contest and to be a finalist is awesome,” Van Horn said.
All five bumper finalists can be viewed at www.filmfest.scad.edu and at the Film Festival. The Savannah Film Festival will be held October 31-November 7 where the winner of the Bumper Contest will be announced.
For outtakes of “The Magic of Film” and more info about Withers’ bumper visit his Web site. www.unusedbagels.com. To see the rest of the finalists, visit http://filmfest.scad.edu/student-contest/.
The Movement Image:
The Magic of Film:
Contact Margaret Ulrich
Photos by Kristen Albo