By David Seaman
Oscars, Sundance, Golden Globes. It's the time of year for film, and Taylor is no exception. Taylor's Media Communication department is preparing for its biggest event of the year: Envision Film Festival. From Feb. 28 to March 2, the festival will showcase student films and will facilitate dialogue with industry professionals, allowing audiences to experience the significance of this still-growing medium.
Begun in 1998, the festival has flourished in recent years under the direction of professors John and Kathy Bruner. This year, three days of film screenings and workshops will commence next Thursday and conclude the following Saturday with an awards ceremony for student film submissions. At the screenings, both Media Communication students and high school visitors looking to hone their skills will present their films to an eager audience.
"All of these films should be honored," said senior Media Communication major Paul Yoder. "Four of the Taylor films have already won awards, and these films will encourage people to visit Taylor and see what our program can offer."
Yoder is working with fellow senior Annessa Mosier as student producer for the festival. While Mosier interacts with college students, Yoder will be in charge of up-and-coming high school filmmakers. He will coordinate the grand prize for the best high school film shown.
"I'm looking forward to encouraging high school students with their films," Yoder said, "I truly think they will have a better time here than at other events this week." A special screening featuring two award-winning short films by Director Michelle Steffes ('00) will take place Feb. 28 in Mitchell Auditorium. Various film workshops will follow on March 1. Guest speakers will run workshops on scriptwriting, audio and recording throughout the weekend.
Other workshops will be taught by various upperclassmen. These will give prospective students a chance to interact with Taylor students and to use the department's production equipment.
Taylor will host three main guest speakers for Envision this year. Voice-over artist Cassie Boyd Baker ('95) will return to her alma mater with eight years of entertainment experience. She has worked as a voice-over artist for Nickelodeon and PBS, as well as for commercials for Apple, J.C. Penney and more. She is also leading Taylor's brand-new Hollywood Internship Program in Los Angeles.
Taylor graduate Jack Lugar ('91) will also speak. As a member of the Writer's Guild of America, Lugar wrote for sitcoms such as "Life with Louie" and "Wanda at Large." He is the author of humor book "The Starving Artist's Diet" and the creator of TheSitcomLab.com, a "one-stop shop for everything sitcom."
Rounding out the list is audio expert Clay Stahlka, whose impressive résumé includes films "The Natural" and "Days of Thunder." He has been involved in broadcast events for the NHL, NFL, MLB and NASCAR. Stahlka's extensive experience with lighting, gripping and rigging, along with designing audio systems, helped make him the on-call audio specialist for A&E and Discovery when they shoot in Indiana.
Besides these speakers, student films are the festival's main draw. Twelve films will be shown March 1 in Rediger Auditorium, nine of which will compete. Awards will be distributed March 2 in the categories of Best Picture, Best Documentary, Best Drama, Best Comedy and Audience Choice.
"It is a competition, but it also is a chance to come together and show what we students have accomplished," said sophomore Micah Hancock who, along with sophomore Nick Chamberlain, won Best Drama for the short film "Broken" last festival.
The students have another film in competition this year called "Movie Me." The film involves three characters traveling through different movie genres. "It's a movie that's a satire on movies," Hancock said. "A film is something to be entertaining, and I hope our film accomplishes that."