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Lights, Camera … Seven Day Film Challenge: The movie making challenge adds a prize to its 2019 edition

Veronica Thomas ’21 is a the co-organizers of the Seven Day Film Challenge which is exactly what it sounds like, a weeklong digital media competition. Photo by Sarina Lincoln.

If you like film and want to support student artists on campus, don’t miss the Seven Day Film Challenge, organized by Veronica Thomas and Lillie Westbrook, both ’21.

The challenge began this past Sunday, March 3. Participants were given a prop to film with over the course of a week and on Sunday, March 6 at 8 p.m., the student filmmakers will show the product of their diligent, weeklong work. A panel of judges will declare a winner who will receive an unnamed special prize.

The current lineup of filmmakers includes Joy Mitchell ’21, Marco Saffold ’20, Jackson Lea ’19, Gracee Wallach ’20, Sidney Litke ’19, Phoebe Schreckinger ’19, Addison Marsh ’22, Hope Nowak ’22, Cally Carr ’21 and Audrey Boyle ’21.

“We’re happy to have participation from every year,” said Thomas.

Artis Curiskis ’18 handed off the responsibility of organizing the challenge to Thomas and Westbrook after he graduated.

“Participation has been low, historically,” Thomas said. “We thought upping the stakes with [having] the judges and having a prize would help increase participation.”

Thomas refused to give away the details of the prize but said there will be gift certificates from some local businesses.

The event is part of a larger effort to create a community of Grinnell College students who want to learn about filmmaking. Even if you do not participate in the Challenge, consider showing up to the final viewing to learn about the filmmaking process.

“I came to Grinnell knowing that my opportunities would be kind of limited with film but still wanting to find a community that was interested in really just being self-motivated and still gaining skills and developing skills on our own. Because we don’t have the classes to do that yet. So, I really want to make more opportunities for people to gain more skills. That’s why this is for everyone,” Thomas said.

Aside from the challenge, the College has made strides in expanded options for those interested in digital media. This year the Studio Art Department brought in Visiting Professor Ally Christmas to teach Digital Arts and Video Production and this semester’s Contemporary Photography. Next year, Christmas will likely teach a class on technology and “self.” Students like Thomas hope that the Studio Art department continues to expand opportunities in film and hopes for the development of a film concentration.

Thomas spoke on the possibilities of film with modern technology: “There shouldn’t be an expectation that you have to know something already, and with the way that iPhones work now, … like there is the Sundance movie that was filmed on an iPhone.”

Cally Carr ’21 and Hope Nowak ’22 are two of the filmmakers competing in the challenge. Their prop is a singing, dancing fish named “Big Mouth Billy Bass” who sings two different songs.

Carr called their film a “fun hot mess.”

“There is no method, it’s just madness,” said Carr of their filmmaking process.

The finished films will be screened on Sunday, March 10 at 8 p.m. in HSSC S3325. Although the showing is this Sunday, it’s not too late to pick up a prop and bring a last-minute film to the festival. Contact Thomas at [thomasve] to get involved.

Veronica Thomas ’21 is a the co-organizers of the Seven Day Film Challenge which is exactly what it sounds like, a weeklong digital media competition. Photo by Sarina Lincoln.
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