By Elizabeth Hartmann | Echo
The lights dim. The audience holds a collective breath as the films start rolling.
This was the expectant atmosphere during the screenings of student films during the Envision Film Festival on Friday, March 2.
The large audience was held captive as student films made them laugh, cry and sigh. For the past year, Taylor film students have been hard at work creating documentaries, short fiction and even stop-motion animation.
Their hard work finally paid off and awards were given to the best films in every category.
The ultimate award of "Best Picture" was given to "When We Were Together," a heart-jerking film about a young girl's struggles with her parent's divorce. The judges chose this film because of the masterful combination of editing, cinematography, screenplay, and all elements of filmmaking.
Junior Jake Vriezelaar, the director, cinematographer, editor and writer of "When We Were Together," was very thankful for everyone who had helped with the making of the film.
"I think it is such a gift to tell stories, especially with the people you love," Vriezelaar said.
"Drop Dead Gorgeous," a hilarious film about an awkward young man's attempt to find love, won the "Best Cinematography," "Best Screenplay" and "Audience Choice" awards.
"Best Sound Design" went to "U.F.NO.," a halloween film about a group of teens trying to communicate with aliens.
The "Best Actor" award was given to Shani Stiles in "Homeward," as she dealt with loss when her astronaut daughter lost contact during a mission.
Senior Andrew Brueck worked as 1st assistant camera on "Homeward." He described the incredible amount of effort that goes into these 15 minute films. From extensive pre-planning, filming and post production, he estimates a well-done short film takes over 100 hours.
Celebrating the joy of summer in Upland, "Summer Daze" won the "Best Music Video" award.
The "Best Editing" award went to "Cos Wars: More Than a Hobby," a documentary about a group of adults who cosplay as Star Wars characters for charity.
Junior Hannah Goebel, the producer for "Cos Wars: More Than a Hobby" and co-producer of the Envision Film Festival, worked on this documentary all last semester for one of her classes.
Goebel thought the Envision film festival was good practice for filmmakers who might be called on to attend an even larger public festival in the future to receive an award for their films.
"I think it is important for the filmmakers to kind of show off to the public and to Taylor," Goebel said.
Senior Christopher Gearhart put so much work into "Don't Forget the Popsicle," the judges created a new award for this stop-motion animation.
"Freedom" won the "Best Documentary" award, telling the inspiring story of Brian Blevins, the manager of local coffee shop, Joe on the Go, and his fight against addiction.
For exemplifying the liberal arts, the "Best Humanities and Arts" award went to "The Illustrator," a documentary about how an Indianapolis artist uses his gifts to show truths about society.
The screenings and awards ceremony might have been the highlight of the Envision Film Festival, but there were informational workshops and events all weekend.
Sophomore Kelsea Denney, who helped co-produce it, worked behind the scenes scheduling workshops, decorating, folding programs and ensuring that everything ran smoothly. Denney enjoyed getting the privilege to work alongside so many of her professors and peers to produce this festival.
High schoolers were allowed to participate in the workshops and submit films and the winner was shown for the audience. The winner was "Together," a film a featuring the struggle of two brothers.
From the informational workshops to the excitement of watching new films screened, the Envision Film Festival gave valuable insight to the hard work of the filmmakers, who finally had the chance to come out of the shadows and step into the spotlight.