Challenge. Change. Podcast
For a group of Clark students, producing original short films this semester proved to be a lesson in community, collaboration, and creativity.
Students created two films, “Long Play” and “Kill Your Babies,” in a digital filmmaking course with screen studies Professor Soren Sorensen. The course brings together students with diverse backgrounds in the arts to work collectively on a film project while studying theory and practice. This semester, the selected genre was film noir. The workshop gives students the chance to direct, produce, act, edit, and more.
Gyani Pradhan Wong Ah Sui ’24 directed and Emily Haithwaite ’23 produced “Long Play.” Teslote Debebe ’23 directed and Annie Lynch ’23 produced “Kill Your Babies.” On this episode of Challenge. Change., the four share the triumphs and tribulations of creating their films.
“Communicating with eight people at once to ensure you’re all making the same film is what I feel the director’s role boils down to,” says Pradhan Wong Ah Sui, a screen studies major. “It’s challenging, but also super fun and rewarding at the same time, especially when working with people I love.”
“Long Play,” written by Liv Wilde, follows Frankie Dobbs, who arrives at an Airbnb to discover the host, Rowan Emery, is still home. Frankie learns that Rowan is being stalked, and a mystery unfolds as they embark on a quest to find the truth. A record shop is at the center of the story.
Haithwaite, a media, culture, and the arts major, says the 2012 coming-of-age film “Moonrise Kingdom,” directed by Wes Anderson, served as inspiration for the visual style of “Long Play.”
“We have shots of envelopes and vinyl that are very Wes Anderson-esque, in both the editing and the cinematography,” she says.
In “Kill Your Babies,” written by Griffin Ford, Dorian Adler is an enthusiast of true crime podcasts. She’s determined to create the perfect murder, a task that gets messy quickly. The film has twists and turns that fall into themes of long-lost love, mystery, and horror.
“Dorian loves true crime podcasts, but along the way she starts to question herself and face the implications of always falling into other people’s crimes and other people’s storylines, and the judgment that comes with that,” says Debebe, a media, culture, and the arts major.
Musical artists were an influence, as well. “Starboy,” the 2016 album by Canadian singer The Weeknd, gave Lynch inspiration. The cover art boasts vivid colors and dramatic lighting.
“The lighting was key to us in thinking about how to shape the overall design of the film,” says Lynch, who majors in French and screen studies.
Haithwaite described the film as a way to showcase one’s identity in aesthetic forms that wouldn’t be possible with other mediums. Film can preserve someone’s identity while capturing a moment or a feeling that can be viewed over and over, Lynch adds.
“As creatives, we imbue our personal experiences into our art, whether it’s a TikTok or a feature film,” says Pradhan Wong Ah Sui.
For the viewer, Debebe says, the best films forge an emotional connection through storytelling.
“Emotions are so interconnected, and film is one of the best ways to bring that connection to light,” she says.