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Comedy, Tragedy, Trains — and Werewolves

Redstone Film Festival’s entries find diverse inspiration

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Click on the video player above to watch the trailers of this year’s Redstone Film Festival finalists:Werewolf Trouble,The General Direction of Good,Sombra Azul,Iowa Girls,Mind the Gap,A Simple Taste.

One of this year’s Redstone films explores a simple misunderstanding in a coffee shop. Another examines family tragedy, while a third unearths an obscure sport that was once the most popular game in Iowa.

The films, all created by students in the College of Communication’s filmmaking or screenwriting programs, will be shown this Wednesday, February 11, at the Tsai Performance Center as part of the 29th annual Redstone Film Festival at Boston University. The festival, which showcases work by graduate and undergraduate Boston University students, is sponsored by Sumner Redstone (Hon.’94), CEO of Viacom. Festival winners are chosen by a panel of prominent film industry professionals; cash prizes go to the first, second, and third place finishers.

BU Today spoke with this year’s festival finalists about the process of making their films.

Werewolf Trouble, directed by Charlie Anderson (COM’09)
I was spending a lot of time with my friends, so naturally I had socially dysfunctional monsters on the brain. My film, Werewolf Trouble, is about a werewolf who wakes up one morning horrified to find himself only partially transformed. He enlists his friends’ aid to restore his full human form in time for an important event.

The friends who inspired the story are also the cast; we shot the film in my apartment last March, over the course of a weekend. The Redstone is its festival debut, although my dad screened it for 20 relatives back in Indiana. Does that count? They were quite festive, with adult beverages and a couple of cheese balls.

Werewolf Trouble will also be shown at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday, February 26, along with five other recent student films from BU.

The General Direction of Good, directed by Andrew Kightlinger (COM’10)
In the film, a young man deals with his grief and his faith after his wife is killed in a home invasion. I lost my mother to heart disease two years ago, and this film is about how I dealt with my own grief. When someone we love dies, we live in a hell of sadness and regret. The question is, what helps us through it?

The film was shot right before Thanksgiving in my apartment, because I had enough wattage to support our power-sucking lights. To build heaven, I bought tons of white linen and hung them from the ceiling. I have enough to fit 10 guest rooms now — everyone is welcome at my place!

Sombra Azul, directed by Rosita Lama Muvdi (COM’08)
Sombra Azul, which means blue shadow in Spanish, is about a woman who discovers why sexual fantasies should never become reality — they’re never meant to be fulfilled, because they never live up to our expectations.

The idea came to me at the gym. I had finished my workout at night, just as FitRec was closing, and stopped to look down at the pool. The lights were off and the pool looked dark and eerie, and I just thought of the image of a naked woman, alone in a dark pool. I’m not sure exactly how the rest of the story developed after that; it was inside of me and I knew I had to shoot it.

I shot the film last spring with my Video Production III class. We shot in one location for over 28 hours straight, and then came back for some reshoots. The actors and crew were supportive, patient, and understanding of the filmmaking process — and because of the sensitive subject matter, I was incredibly grateful that the actors and crew were able to gracefully approach the situation and help me make the film that we all wanted to make. The performances were absolutely amazing, and I could have never imagined a better final product.

Iowa Girls, directed by Donna Reyes (COM’09)
Iowa Girls is about the unique game of six-on-six basketball, played by high school girls in Iowa decades before Title IX. Six-on-six was the number-one spectator sport in the state for nearly a century — it was so popular that the girls regularly played before sellout crowds, and attendance at their games often exceeded that of the boys’ games. My film is about the generations of women who played the game of six-on-six and the thousands of Iowans — both men and women — who believed in gender equality long before people elsewhere even knew what it was.

Despite being a former high school and college basketball player, and an avid fan, I had never heard of this sport before. It was fascinating to read about these women who had lived in a sort of alternate universe where they were accepted and celebrated as athletes.

The entire film was shot with just a two-man crew. Our start was delayed because of the flooding in Iowa early last year, but production finally began in August 2008. I traveled all around the state to interview former six-on-six players. Many of the towns I visited were small rural communities, which is where six-on-six was especially popular. In October 2008, I also traveled to Wichita, Kansas, to interview Denise Long, a six-on-six legend and the first woman drafted in the NBA.

Iowa Girls will premiere at Redstone, but will also be screened at the 5th NYC Downtown Short Film Festival Audience Choice Screenings on February 19.

Mind the Gap, directed by Kristal Williams-Rowley (COM’09)
Mind the Gap tells the story of a teenage girl coping with the grief that both she and her father encounter as a result of his job as a train conductor. The script was written by Marcy Holland (COM’08), a screenwriting grad student at BU. She got the idea when she heard about a clause in a train conductor’s contract ensuring him a certain amount of time off if he hit someone. When she started doing research and discovered that it’s a really common occurrence, she decided to tell that story. I knew I wanted to make Mind the Gap immediately after reading her script.

The film was shot all over Massachusetts. We rented a house in Plymouth, used the train station in Framingham, and spent many hours riding and shooting on the MBTA. The high school scenes were filmed in BU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

The film won first place in the shorts competition at the LDS Film Festival, and it has also been accepted to the Chlotrudis Short Film Festival, the Kent Film Festival, the Foursite Film Festival, the Cinerail Festival, the Honolulu International Film Festival, and the International Family Film Festival. The Redstone will be the film’s second official festival screening.

A Simple Taste, directed by Jac Woods (COM’08)
My film, A Simple Taste, is a story about a note that connects many people together in a coffee shop. The note, not reaching the woman for whom it is intended, is accidentally passed around the coffee shop. Humorous events ensue as different characters misinterpret it as being written for them. The script was written by Jessie Beers-Altman (COM’08) and won BU’s Fleder-Rosenberg short screenplay contest in 2007.

We filmed it in March 2008 in a three-night shoot at Renee’s Café in Somerville, Mass. — they have the best breakfast, if you’re ever interested. They were intense, grueling, 18-hour days, but my cast and crew were incredible.

A Simple Taste was recently accepted into the Reel Women International Film Festival, which will take place at the end of March in Los Angeles. It will also be screened at the Museum of Fine Arts on February 26 in a BU student event.

The Redstone Film Festival begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, February 11, at the Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Ave., and is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and admittance is first-come, first-served.