Students may not have been able to see their names in lights, but they were able to finally see their hard work on the big screen.
This Saturday, the screen of the Kimball Theatre flickered and glowed with the work of the College of William and Mary students showcased during the CANS Film Festival.
This year, two short films competed for the $100 prize: “The Disappeared Girl,” directed by Katherine Arcement ’13, and “The Human Condition,” directed by Austin Journey ’11. After watching the films, members of the audience voted on their top choice.
Tribe Productions puts on CANS every year, says Kaitlyn Bergen ’14, a Tribe Productions member. Some of this year’s contestants have been participants in previous years as well, such as Journey.
“I won last year’s festival, so I figured I’d submit to this one,” Journey said. “‘The Human Condition’ was shot about a year ago for an independent study project for my major. It’s still not finished, but it’s finished enough that I’m never working on it again.”
The students cast in the lead roles in Journey’s film, Michaela Rothschild ’11 and Andrew Collie ’11, attended the festival with Journey. The trio has been making films together for about three years.
“I use these two actors all the time because they’re good and because we have a history together,” Journey said.
In his sophomore year, Journey was in need of actors for a project he was working on at the same time that Rothschild and Collie both began volunteering for films to gain some acting experience.
“We started with short films, and by the time we worked up to longer projects, we’d established a relationship,” Rothschild said. “It’s hard to do a 10-minute film with people you’ve never worked with before.”
Arcement, the director of “The Disappeared Girl,” also made her film without CANS specifically in mind. Nevertheless, the three-minute film was included in the “HOMEgrown & SUPERnatural” W&M Filmmaking Showcase this spring.
“I expected the audience to come away from watching “The Disappeared Girl” a little unsettled,” Arcement, who has submitted a proposal for an interdisciplinary major titled ‘Animating the Intangible,’ said. “I intended it to be a sad and quiet meditation on absence.”
Arcement said she does not enjoy seeing her films on the big screen because they are so personal to her.
“I view it as akin to displaying my soul on the projection screen,” she said. “And afterwards, people always want to talk to you about it.”
CANS is an opportunity for aspiring filmmakers and actors to showcase their cinematic efforts. However, to the disappointment of the members of Tribe Productions, this year yielded fewer submissions than usual.
“We were going to have categories, like ‘Best Editing,’ so there would be more prizes, but there weren’t many submissions,” Bergen said. “It was also hard to publicize because we only had the four officers putting up fliers.”
Even though it meant less competition, the small number of submissions was also disappointing to the people involved with the films. Both Journey and Rothschild said they wished there had been more films submitted to the festival.
Events such as CANS are outlets for expression and creativity, but they are also opportunities to gain experience in a field in which students may want to have a lifelong involvement.
“I’m thinking about minoring in film,” Bergen said. “I’m really interested in documentary, so I might go that route. I’ve just always found film really interesting, but never had the opportunity [to work with it] until college.”
After viewing the films, the audience voted on slips of paper. Tribe Productions gathered the ballots, counted the votes, and declared the winner: “The Human Condition.”
Journey, Rothschild and Collie were flushed and smiling as the audience clapped and offered congratulations. Arms around each other, they posed for pictures.
Journey said, “When they get famous, I can say, ‘I made films with them back in college!’”