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Students Get Ready for Second Film Festival


Photo Courtesy of Roanoke College

Article Written by Sarah Joseph


Hold on to your popcorn. The Basically Tarantino Festival is here again.

Like the Austin, Texas, semi-annual Quentin Tarantino Film Festival, future student filmmakers at Roanoke College are debuting their own short films.

The festival will be held in the Ballroom on March 23. At least four Roanoke students plan to produce films for the festival.

Last year was the first year for Roanoke’s Basically Tarantino film festival. The idea for the festival took shape after Roanoke College student’s screenplay that eventually became a film.

The story began in the spring of 2015, when Joe Boucher, a former producer of “The Simpsons” visited Roanoke, his alma mater, to teach a one-week screenwriting class. In his class was Steph Spector ‘16, a student who Boucher mentored and who won the class’ screenwriting competition.

The following fall, Boucher was hired as director of Student Activities at the Colket Center at Roanoke. Around the same time, Spector’s script, “Daylily Day,” was chosen for funding by the Virginia Association of Independent Colleges to become a film.

Boucher helped Spector to produce the film.“We decided to make it a student activity and use as many students as possible,” Boucher said. About 75 students participated.

Boucher also recruited local filmmakers, Steve Mason and Jamie Nabers, to assist in the production and give the students real filmmaking experience. They shot the film last winter.

Boucher and Spector met with several English professors – Martha Kuchar, Bob Schultz, Wendy Larson-Harris and GuanSoon Khoo – and they decided that “Daylily Day” should premiere with other student films as part of a film festival in the spring of 2016.

Students Andrew Miller and Madeline Turner came up with the rules and idea for the Basically Tarantino Film Festival, said Boucher. Four student films and Spector’s film premiered for the festival on April 14 in the Colket Center Wortmann Ballroom.

Since Spector graduated, “Daylily Day” has landed spots at four film festivals in New York.

In last year’s festival, David Hall, editor of the Brackety-Ack, won the Audience Choice Award for the film “The Mackay Pierce Story.”

This year in honor of the 175 anniversary of Hollins and Roanoke College and inspired by last year’s festival, Hollins student films will also be screened as part of the three week gallery show called Screen Swap in March and April at Roanoke and Hollins.

Several students are already planning film entrees in this year’s Basically Tarantino Festival. One is Ben Mowers, a junior. He said his film will “be taking a Wes Anderson spin on mental illness, focusing on five patients in a ward who plot an escape. The work will look at each

character individually, and show how their illnesses can be used as skills when they all work together.”

Another film that will premiere at the festival also focuses on mental illnesses but in the form of social anxiety. Jaclyn Frost, a senior, is using an interesting subject to broach the stigma of social anxiety.

“The movie is about a girl who decides to start wearing fairy wings wherever she goes and how it affects her and her best friend,” said Frost, who participated in last year’s festival and won an award for the best use of a line or prop.

Another film inspired by the controversial, unaired Super Bowl commercial by 84 Lumber featuring President Donald Trump’s proposal for a wall at the border of Mexico and the United States inspired Brenda Prieto Velasquez, a senior. Just as the commercial makes one think about the current political arena, Velasquez said she wants to “transmit at the beginning some sadness that at the end makes you reflect on the immigration situation.”

Another student filmmaker, Ben Cowgill, a senior, said he was inspired by last year’s comical Mackay Pierce film. He hopes to produce a film remotely comparable or slightly funnier, and he said he wants the viewers to walk away bemused.