For most, one week may not seem like enough time to plan, produce, write, shoot and edit a film, but for Keene State College’s film majors, that one week time limit is something they look forward to every year. Keene State Media Productions’ annual 7 Day Film Festival screening took place at the Putnam Theater this past Friday, April 1.
According to Festival Director and senior film major Connor Vail, participants are given seven days to create a film that involves a predetermined prop and one line of dialogue that must fit into their script. Groups must also pick their genres out of a hat.
Vail said that there is a lot that goes into picking the assigned prop, line of dialogue and genres.
“I pick out the prop with the e-board for Keene State Media Productions. We figure out what’s going to be the coolest, but also the funniest and will work with everyone’s genres. We pick out the genres that all the groups pick from too,” Vail said.
This year’s prop was a potato, and the line dialogue was “Thanks be to God.”
“Every group must do what they can with the prop and the dialogue,” Vail said.
As for the genre, Vail said that groups picked out of a hat.
“They can either keep the genre that they pick out of the hat or they can go for a second one, but they’re going to have to stick with that second one regardless if they like it or not,” Vail said.
The genres for this year’s 7 Day Film Festival included mockumentary, science-fiction, ‘80s action film, one-take, slapstick comedy and soap opera.
“We’ve had some great genres in the past and also some really funny ones, like spy film and action-porno,” Vail said.
As for the students who participated in the festival, Vail said they are all “very driven.”
“The entire week [participants] just work hard writing, filming and trying to get it all done within the seven days,” Vail said, “It’s impressive to see all of these films come together.”
The films that were screened at the 7 Day Film Festival this past Friday were titled “Last Night Right Now,” “Chad Taylor II: Intergalactic Voyage,” “Maverick,” “Edward Potato Hands,” “Dawn of Sub” and “RIP Josh Lamb.”
According to Vail, a number of groups planned to take part in the festival, but only these six made it to the March 31 deadline.
Senior Samantha Spielberg, who is a film major, originally planned to enter the 7 Day Film Festival, but said she was too busy with her own film project to make the deadline.
“I’m working on a film called ‘Where There’s Smoke’ for my senior film production course and we just did not have enough time to enter the festival,” Spielberg said. “It is so impressive to see what other students can come up with in just seven days.”
While all six groups were seen as impressive, there were only two prizes to be given out at the end of the night — “Judge’s Choice” and “Audience’s Choice.”
After the films were screened, the audience got to vote on the ballots that were given out along with the event’s program prior to the show. While the audience filled out and handed in their ballots for “Audience’s Choice,” the judges stepped into another room to discuss the films for “Judge’s Choice.”
The judges included management major Jesse Patterson and film majors Sarah Schufelt and Veronica Spadaro.
“We have a score sheet and we score on three main things — story and characters, editing and cinematography and lastly the use of the prop and dialogue. Those are scaled one through ten for each and then we write down our final scores at the end,” Vail said.
Vail said the judges had a “surprisingly easy” time figuring out the winner this year because of the score sheet, which was created by the festival’s Associate Director Keelan Brown.
In the end, the film “Chad Taylor II: Intergalactic Voyage” ended up taking home both awards of the night.
The film, which was created by sophomores Kevin Aruilio and Aidan Caughran, is a science fiction film that followed an alcoholic college student named Chad Taylor who, with the help of his magic potato, set out to “save the universe.”
According to Keene State Media Productions’ Facebook page, “Chad Taylor II: Intergalactic Voyage” is part of an anthology series “about a raging alcoholic who sits on his bed all day.” Both Chad Taylor films were made in separate 7 Day Film Festivals.
Film Majors Aruilio and Caughran discussed what it was like to create a cohesive film in such a short span of time.
“We basically just sat down and wrote out bullet points of how we thought we wanted the story to go,” Aruilio said.
Caughran added, “From there, we took what we had planned and just tried to wing it. We started filming as quickly as possible.”
The pair’s idea to “wing it” proved to be successful because they walked home that night with brand new GoPro Heros and four $50 Amazon gift cards.
While Caughran said he mostly enjoys comedy, he also said he believes that laughs can be achieved in any type of genre.
“We were excited to see how crazy and over the top we could make everything [in this film] and we really liked planning all the crazy costumes,” Caughran said.
By the end of the festival, the filmmakers were walking around congratulating each other.
“That’s what I love about this festival,” Vail said. “Everyone gets their chance to shine.”
Stephanie McCann can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org