Every year the seniors of the Keene State College film department produce original films to be showcased at the annual Keene State Film Festival held at the Colonial Theatre in downtown Keene. According to KSC senior Samantha Provencher, the movies are produced collaboratively over the course of a year and are presented to the public for students to showcase their work and exemplify what they have learned at KSC.
“It’s a great opportunity for students in and out of the film department to see the work created by their fellow students. Aside from that, it’s a cool thing to be able to see how far we have come as filmmakers over the past four years,” Provencher said.
This year, Provencher teamed up with fellow seniors Zac Staffiere, Samantha Spielberg, Joseph Ogden and Rebecca Connolly to create the short film “Where There’s Smoke,” a drama that embodies the fleeting tendencies of adolescent relationships.
According to Spielberg, “Where There’s Smoke” is a story about a hitchhiker named Mackenzie and the friendship she forms with Charlie, the middle-aged stranger who offers her a ride while on his way to a family Christmas party.
The creation and writing of this story along with its characters was a group effort, Spielberg said, and is special to crew members because it celebrates the fleeting relationships formed in real life by capturing a brief fictional one.
“We know that life is always changing and some people come into our lives just to leave shortly after. This story embraces those friendships instead of treating them as something to be mourned,” Spielberg said.
Spielberg said the film emphasizes the importance and significance these relationships can have on our lives in a simple way that can be appreciated by anyone who has experienced a relationship similar to the one seen between Charlie and Mackenzie.
With the film’s strong emphasis on relationships, it is only fitting that character development became a significant and moving task for Spielberg, who said she wanted to celebrate and give a voice to the real-life Charlies and Mackenzie through her screenwriting.
“I share a special and unique relationship with both of the characters so I really love them both. It’s impossible not to regard them as close friends after spending a whole semester inside their heads,” Spielberg said.
With meticulously created characters, Mackenzie – played by KSC senior Annie Flynn – is a free-spirited and self-assured adolescent who took control of her own life by letting go and embracing a nomadic path, Spielberg said.
Although Flynn recently hasn’t pursued acting, when photography director Staffiere and editor Ogden recommend she try out for the role of Mackenzie due to her similarities with the character, she said she couldn’t help but audition.
“I think the character of Mackenzie is really interesting because she’s so independent; she ends up leaving her house that’s burning down and leaves everything behind and risks everything by leaving and accepting a ride from a random, old guy,” Flynn said.
Flynn said she prepared for this role by relating back to her teenage years of adolescent angst.
“Basically I just tried to go back to when I was a teenager and [remember] how I treated my parents. Since I’ve matured since then, I think it’s kind of hard to put myself in a position where I would leave my family and run away because I would never be able to do that in real life,” Flynn said.
Although the character can be portrayed as cynical at first glance, by the end of the film Flynn said she hopes viewers actually see her as the strong, unique girl she is.
Amanda Lashua can be contacted at email@example.com.