Appalachian Film Club hosts 36-hour film festival


Cali O'Mailia

Melanie Lech, Alex Bradford Cobb, and Berry Jones on the set of “Catastrophe”, a plotless script directed by Alex Bradford Cobb.

Sydney Wolford

Over two years ago, Appalachian State Film Club members watched films together in a Sanford Hall classroom and talked about what they liked or disliked about them. They struggled with figuring out how they could transform their casual movie discussions into an organization.

App State offers an English major with a film studies concentration, but the university does not have a major or many classes that teach how to film, senior English major and App State Film Club event coordinator Alan Dickens said.  

This is one of the many reasons that Dickens, senior interdisciplinary studies major, the club’s public relations representative Melanie Lech and club president Berry Jones decided to create a film club a few years ago.

Now, App State Film Club is evolving, Dickens said.

Film Club will hold a 36-hour film competition open to the public to create a comedy, drama or horror/thriller film on Nov. 11. Teams will write, produce, direct and edit their film within three days.

Melody Fayth Marshall and Alex Adcock on set of "Diane's Inferno" directed by Melanie Lech. The film was one winner of the "Do Not Eat More Than One" script contest.
Melody Fayth Marshall and Alex Adcock on set of “Diane’s Inferno” directed by Melanie Lech. The film was one winner of the “Do Not Eat More Than One” script contest.

Teams have to pick a genre for their film, and begin the filming process at 9 a.m. on Nov. 11. After all of the short films are written, produced and edited, the final products will be shown on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m.

“You don’t have the pressure or time commitment of doing a shoot over a period of weeks,” Lech said. “It’s just one weekend and you end up with something.”

Over the summer, Lech participated in a 48-hour film festival in Charlotte, and wanted to bring a film festival to App State. Lech liked the idea of meeting new people, networking and having friendly competition.

Anyone who is interested in any aspect of the filmmaking process or wants to get more involved in the film community is welcome to participate in the competition or watch the submissions on Nov. 13, Lech said.

Lech said that she wants participants to not only create a tangible product after the competition, but also to learn about film in a different environment than a classroom.

“I think that it’s good to get out of the classroom,” Lech said. “These student short films are important for giving students an opportunity to learn, figure out what they’re interested in, what they’re best at and what they want to pursue.”

Freshman economics major and participant Patrick McCabe agreed that making short films with other students is an important learning experience.

McCabe, a one-person team in the film festival, said that he doesn’t “expect to blow anyone away,” but it would be a way for him to see how he compares to other filmmakers in Boone.

Since McCabe is on an individual team, he will be tasked with writing, directing, producing, acting and editing. Although this means more work, McCabe said that he will be able to have a more cohesive vision for his final product than if he worked with a group of people.

Sophomore criminal justice major and participant Thomas Fore wants to be on a team. Fore said he wants to join a team that is interested in trying something new and hearing everyone’s ideas.

Fore said he hopes to act in the short film, but would not mind writing either. He recently became interested in acting, and was an extra in “Find a Way,” a faith-based film.

“I hope to get more experience,” Fore said. “Hearing praise is good too.”

The judges, who are also App State professors, will choose an overall winner and will give out several other awards at the film screening on Nov. 13.

Students on the set of "Decomposed", directed by Berry Jone, during the 45 minute film challenge.
Students on the set of “Decomposed”, directed by Berry Jone, during the 45 minute film challenge.

Dickens hopes that the 36-Hour Film Festival is what the campus needs to progress toward a larger, stronger film community, and potentially more film classes or film studios in the area.

“I feel like events like this film festival are exactly the kinds of things we need to raise ambition for this very complex, powerful medium,” Dickens said.

The club still watches movies and discusses them together, but recently there is a focus on filmmaking, Lech said. The group watched low-budget music videos during meetings to get

ideas on how to make something worth watching with limited resources.  

As for filming newbies, Dickens said that even experienced producers, directors and actors are just as nervous to show off their work as someone who has never touched a camera before.

“I don’t think there’s a better crowd of people to start working on your projects with,” Dickens said. “They’re passionate and they’re willing to learn just like you are.”

Derrick Kimbrough on the set of "Catastrophe", which was directed by Alex Bradford Cobb.
Derrick Kimbrough on the set of “Catastrophe”, which was directed by Alex Bradford Cobb.

People interested in shooting a film should join the club’s Facebook group and search the spreadsheet for ongoing projects, Lech said.

“I just wrote a random script, got some friends together, that’s almost done editing and without Film Club I don’t think that would’ve been possible,” Dickens said.

App State Film Club has even more planned in store for the semester than the film festival including a movie night on Nov. 8 that is open to the public and collaboration with the Rotten Appal to create satirical short films. Some members organize shooting a short film on the club’s Facebook page if they want to make a film for fun.

“This semester, we’ve had people go off and make their own thing,” Dickens said. “They’re making their own shorts. I feel like the quality of the work of the club overall is improving as the club is finding its footing.”

Story by: Sydney Wolford, A&E Reporter