North Lake College Students got to show off their chops Thursday, May 16th when Texas Theatre showed an hour and a half of student short films. In addition to full fledged short films, the premier showed animation, mock advertisements, and trailers for projects students hope to get off the ground after graduating.
“We’re so happy we’re at Texas Theatre. We were starting to outgrow our auditorium at North Lake, and this gives us an opportunity to show our films to a broader audience,”said June Owens, Video Instructor at North Lake College. “I’m proud of all of them, they’ve all come a long way.”
This is the second time North Lake has partnered with Texas Theatre to present student films. Most nights the little indie theater in Oak Cliff is showing classic, slightly cultish films in 35mm, an increasingly rare format as digital projection rapidly takes over the industry. The films for Thursday’s screening were selected from among the best work the students had done in the past year.
“[to make the list] it had to be as professionally produced as possible, it had to represent what we do in our classes, and we tried to look for things that would be fun for a big audience,” said Andy Chiles, Coordinator for the Video Technology Program at North Lake College. Chiles was one of the faculty members in charge of selecting the films to be shown.
Included on that list was the TXU award winning short film Spirits, written and directed by Jerome “Phoenix” Williams. For Spirits, a film about the consequences of taking technology for granted, Williams took his inspiration from contemporary science fiction and action films.
“Joss Whedon, John Woo, a lot of big action directors inspire me,” Williams said. “I’m also really influenced by Japanese animation. That’s where I get the style that I have. I’m doing live action, but when I look at a concept I think ‘what can I do to make this more stylized?’”
Williams also premiered the trailer for Witchhunter, a short fantasy action film he hopes to release later this year.
Among other films the audience and North Lake faculty were excited to show was Vendetta, a short film by North Lake student Armando Suarez. Vendetta is unusual for being a continuous shot filmed in one take.
“We had so many actors. You rehearse it over and over, but if anything messes up, if someone looks in the camera or the camera gets in the shot, then that’s in there,” Owens said.
“I like to set challenges for myself,” Suarez said. “I want to put the most difficult thing I can find into these movies. Working with a lot of actors is difficult to do, continuous shots are difficult to do. It’s a learning experience. If you don’t set those challenges for yourself you won’t develop.”
The premier also gave students the chance to show off their work for members of the local film industry.
“It gets their faces out there, it allows the community an opportunity to see their work, and hopefully they’ll get to make some good contacts,” Chiles said. “We get a lot of industry people here. I’ve got a really good advisory board that’s made up of professionals in the television and film industry here, and they bring people. I can look right now and see industry people here.”