WILMORE -- The red carpet was rolled down the steps of Asbury College’s Hughes Auditorium for
Saturday Night’s Highbridge Film Festival. This was the fourth time around for the
student film competition, and it felt like a strong taste of Hollywood glamour in small town
Students streamed toward the auditorium, many dressed in probably the best things they had in their closets, to watch 11 student productions competing for the top honors.
The star performer of the evening was Visceral by Brock Smith, which won six awards, including best drama and audience favorite.
The action-packed short, in a sort of 24-esque vein, portrayed a man racing against time to save his wife from a biological threat. While the plot was a tad fuzzy, the action and sound production were spot on.
But Smith’s was hardly the only strong production of the evening.
Pencil Me In, from the trio of Austin Brooks, Ben Corwin and Jack Brannen also dazzled with its story of a man and woman who live by their planners – she is shown brushing her teeth and then crossing off “brush teeth” in her precious book – who eventually meet because of their identical appointment books. The film, largely shot at the Wilmore IGA, won honors for best comedy and best script.
Other highlights included Showdown by Nick LaVenice and Katrina Hudson, a comedy about two troubadours trying to attract a trio of hot girls on campus done silent movie style; The Lockbox by Ben Rogers and Robert Dunlap, about a grandfather helping his grandson come to terms with his mother’s death and his father’s frequent absence; and Clay Hassler’s fun Jazz Radio.
Festivalgoers also got to see the winner of the Highbridge high school competition, Attempt at a Memoir by Elisa Platillero. A cute story about an old man battling a whole host of distractions while trying to write its memoir, it looked like a kid’s homemade movie with family and friends, assuming that kid is exceptionally talented and imaginative for her age, and accomplished as a filmmaker. Platillero will be attending Asbury in the fall.
“Every one of them was shot in high definition this year, and every one of them had exceptional insight into what it means to be a human being,” Bandy said. He noted that the 11 finalists had been culled from a field of 40 films.
While it meant there were a number of disappointed students, Day said the festival was, “doing what we wanted it to do: inspiring students to do better work.”
And the school was getting to show off its wares for a strong field of judges:
- Rick Eldridge, a producer whose films include Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius (2004) and Running the Sahara, currently in production with Matt Damon.
- Clayton Ferguson, who directed marketing for several Walden Media projects including The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) before leaving to produce The Chronicles of Narnia – The Exhibit, which will tour internationally.
- Erik Lokkesmoe, director of Different Drummer, a social-good media marketing firm.
- Bruce Broughton, an Oscar-nominated film composer.
- May-Lynn Chang, strategic marketing director for Walden Media.
Chang worked with Asbury on documentary shorts for last year’s Amazing Grace, so she knew the students could create good work.
“We would love to work with Asbury more,” Chang said at the festival’s Hollywood style – to the extent that would be allowed at a small Southern Methodist college – after party. “They come with a lot of fresh ideas, which is what we want to get.”
Sometimes, you tell people about the exceptional media production work at Asbury and get a nod like you’re being humored. A visit to the Highbridge Film Festival would assure you these kids are for real.
The winning films will be screened for audiences at the Ichthus Festival in June.