Appalachian Film Club to host High Country Film Festival


Courtesy of Appalachian Film Clu

Melanie Lech and Alan Dickens interview Ellis Dyson and the Shambles at the Carolina Jubilee Festival. Photo courtesy of the Appalachian Film Club.

Jordan Parkhurst

In 2015, a group of Appalachian State University students with a passion for film recognized a lack of opportunities to explore this interest on campus.

These students, who found each other through the Appalachian State Class of 2016 Facebook page, worked with faculty members Sarah Davis and Kirsten Clemens to create a group for film discussion and creation, and from this, the Appalachian Film Club was born.

Melanie Lech, a senior double major in interdisciplinary studies and theatre, was one of the original members of the club, which has remained true to the founders’ visions. When asked about its origins, Lech looks back proudly on the experience.

“The beginning was hard and taught us a lot about what it takes to start and run an organization, so last year was mostly paperwork and getting a feel for the ropes,” Lech said. “But this year has been awesome, we’re doing a ton, and finally starting to see the things we had in mind when we started this in the beginning.”

Because she isn’t a film student, Lech wanted to instead join a club that would allow her explore her interest in film. Upon realizing that there was not a group dedicated to this interest, she created one. Working almost entirely with students she had not previously met, the club was formed and serves as an outlet for those that share Lech’s enthusiasm for creation.

Lech, who serves as the club’s secretary, also spoke about the importance of the club to her and the positive impact it has had on her life.

“I especially love silly sketches and comedy, and being around like-minded goofballs who are ambitious and driven is like a ray of warm, saving sunshine on a cold, dead slab of icy decay,” Lech added.

Alan Dickens, a senior English major and Film Club president, spoke about his interest in the group and the similar uplifting feeling he gets from his involvement.

“My favorite part has got to be seeing hard work pay off – seeing these young, passionate artists have a vision and watching them collaborate and succeed in making that vision a reality,” Dickens said. “It’s inspiring and gives hope to other young artists and just people in general that endeavor to establish something of their own.”

The club, which has regular meetings every week, caters both to those interested in creating their own films and also students who simply want to appreciate the art of filmmaking.

Both of these interests, club members hope, will be satisfied by their upcoming event, the High Country Film Festival.

Lech acts alongside Dickens as one of the festival planners and spoke about what audiences can expect both from the event and from the club’s creative members.

“We’re hard at work preparing for the High Country Film Festival, which consists of four categories – action, comedy, drama and horror – and is open to all college students,” she said. “We’ve got three teams working on separate short films and a team writing and preparing for production of a college-themed web series.”

Kali Smith, a freshman economics major, is one of these filmmakers for Tater Hill Productions, the club’s own production company. Smith, who has several works in progress and one completed short film, spoke about her introduction to filmmaking and the thrill of seeing her visions become reality.

“I’ve participated in theater and really wanted to expand my creativity to a new medium, so I began writing for film club,” Smith said. “Right now two of my short films are in the early stages of production, and it’s just crazy to me to see my random ideas get put into action.”

The passionate creations and random ideas of these students and many others will be shown in the club’s film festival. As the official website says, the festival is an “independent, student-driven endeavor designed to inspire young filmmakers to pursue their passions.”

Submissions from students who are not involved in the club were additionally welcomed and should contribute to the diversity of the selected films.

Sponsored by Anna Banana’s and Stick Boy Bakery in addition to the Film Club, the festival will take place on April 9 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Greenbrier Theater. Afterwards, a banquet will begin and awards will be announced from 6-10 p.m. in the Parkway Ballroom. There will be free food, live music from local artists and a photo booth.

Those interested in getting involved in filmmaking with the Appalachian Film Club can attend their Tuesday night meetings in room 413 of the Plemmons Student Union at 8:30 p.m.

CORRECTION: The original version of the story erroneously reported Alan Dickens name as “Alan Hickens.” The error has been corrected and The Appalachian apologizes for this error.

Story by: Jordan Parkhurst, A&E Reporter