With scenes ranging from dissonant dances on top of desert rocks to romantic
teen foibles, the short films shown at the Claremont Colleges Student Film Festival made the April 23 event a smashing
The event was planned by the
Studio 47 team, a group of students at the Claremont Colleges who are
interested in film and media. Reid Mitchell PO ’16 headed the planning, along
with several other members.
The festival was run
like many other film festivals, with a screening of all films in the beginning
and a chance for audience members to vote on their favorite film in the
following categories: Best Narrative Short, Best Non-Fiction Short, Best
Experimental Short, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Design, Best Screenplay and Best Actor. The films fell into the categories of narrative, non-fiction and experimental.
Submissions to the festival varied in subject matter and style.
“Failed Chemistry” by Zayra Lobo HM ’18 focused on one teenage
male’s struggle to share his true feelings for his crush. Like many others might in
his situation, the boy imagined a horrifying scenario in which his crush
publicly humiliated him and his mother berated him.
Lobo had worked on the screenplay for a while and submitted
it for editing to the Claremont Screenwriting Guild, an on-campus organization
for students interested in reading and writing short screenplays.
In his short film “DNA | Deserts 1.2,” Joseph Reynolds PO ’15 combined eclectic music with a poetic dance on sun-drenched rocks
out in the desert.
Jonah Grubb PO ’16’s non-fiction submission,“The River People Project: Oscar McBurney,” highlighted the interesting world of
white-water rafters who navigate some of California’s toughest waterways. The
film focused on the experience of traveling alone versus in a group, as well as
some of the safety hazards that come along with thrill sports.
Although the event went seamlessly, it required much
preparation behind the scenes. The group bought refreshments, blew up balloons, made Powerpoints,
designed flyers and programs, and found trophies for award recipients
(eventually deciding on small clapboards). They also prepared a hilarious
montage of old movie theater advertisements, featuring antiquated animations
for refreshments stands and popcorn dancing to salsa music.
Haley Ferguson PO ’18 and Alex Nolan PO ’16, the MC
entertainers for the night and Studio 47 members, planned out their act with Mitchell prior to the festival.
“We screened the films one by one and brainstormed along the
way,” Ferguson said. “It was a goofy two hours in the basement of Clark V, and
many puns were made.”
Part of participating in such an elaborate presentation is
being prepared to handle the difficult elements. Ferguson described the
frustration of wanting to print 3D trophies in the shape of octopi—the
studio’s mascot—for awards, but not being able to tackle such an ambitious
“We know we always have room to improve,” she said. “But
overall, the team was pretty pleased with the way the festival turned out. The
food was delicious, the audience was supportive and enthusiastic, and the films
our classmates submitted were truly incredible.”
Many of the attendees had positive responses to the night, including Valerie Taylor PO ’18. She is considering majoring in media studies and
participating in more Studio 47 projects in the future.
“It really gave me a sense of all the talent we have here,”
she said. “A lot of the time, you get so wrapped up in the academic aspects of
the college that you forget the crazy creativity that many of the students
have. I really hope Studio 47 does something like this in the future, because
I’ll definitely go.”
Laurel Hilliker PO ’18 said, “All of the films were
incredibly thought-provoking in different ways. These diverse perspectives are
what the Claremont Colleges are all about, and I really appreciate that.”
Those interested in participating in future Studio 47 events are advised to check out the group’s Facebook page and website. The group
is hiring for next year and is looking for submissions.
“I love being part of it,” said Ferguson. “I know I feel
privileged to be part of the wonderful community of cinephiles that exists at