Visions6 Filmmakers & scholars
Film Block 1:
“In the Field of Dreams”
At Mill Creek Farm, elderly Mary Gregory heads the Retirement Home for Horses where old and abused horses are free to live out their lives in spacious pastures.
Noah Avidan - Director: Noah Avidan, a junior at the University of Florida, is pursuing a Bachelor's degree in English with a minor in Theatre. In addition to his focus in video production, Noah's studies include literature, creative writing, film theory, acting, and queer theory. His first film, In the Field of Dreams, was co-produced with Annemarie Pyo-Furlong in the University of Florida's video production course. Noah is currently in the process of editing his first narrative short, which he also wrote and directed. The film will premiere in Gainesville on April 21st, 2016. He is excited and honored to be a part of the Visions6 Film Festival & Conference,and hopes to use this experience as a jumping off point for a career in the film industry--mainly in screenwriting and directing.
“The House that Wren Built” -
A young girl at boarding school finds her escape by building imaginative faerie houses in the forbidden woods, until other students threaten to destroy her sanctuary.
Laurel Cohen - Director: Laurel is stirred by the ORGANIC, the STRANGE, and the MYSTICAL. Laurel's films have screened at dozens of film festivals internationally, including San Francisco International Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival KIDS. Her music videos have landed premieres on Interview Magazine, NPR, Rookie, and Bullett Magazine, and her video Hourglass, for Lily and Madeleine, was named a Top 10 Staff Pick by Paste Magazine. An Indiana native, Laurel currently resides in Los Angeles, where she continues to experiment with stories for the screen. Her next film project is in conjunction with an artist residency at Joshua Tree. One may explore more of her work at laurelcohen.com.
A young girl wakes up to find that time has stopped. She is compelled to begin a journey to find out why.
Aileen White - Director: Born in a suburb outside of Seattle, Aileen spent countless gray days watching movies. Hours were taken over by discussion and analysis. About what she would do differently, about what was awe inspiring, about what she couldn’t get over. But actually making something of her own never crossed her mind. Especially animation, a field that appeared to get very little respect in America. Animation was for children. During this time she did many things, from breeding fish, and sometimes killing fish, to forgoing sleep to watch television shows and playing video games. Something that she regretted slightly in the morning, but in the end it hardened her to her soon to begin sleepless life in art school. This sleepless-ness may have led to the darker topics that she grew to be interested in. Death, fish, ghosts, and regrets became subjects of her paintings, but she wasn't sure how to handle the strength of the symbols. It was a stress motivated whim that led her to taking an intro to animation class. Not the light hearted disney class that she expected, Aileen was exposed to a huge range of art animation. Animation that was dark, messy, controversial, and beautiful. Entrancing.
A short documentary focusing on the media-hyped shark attacks along the North Carolina and South Carolina coasts during the summer of 2015.
Justin Davis - Director: Justin Davis grew up in Alexandria, Indiana, and occupied his time in a small town by immersing himself in film. Inspired by indie filmmakers from the early 90s, such as Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino, Justin aspired to become a film historian and DIY filmmaker. He attended the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and graduated recently with a degree in Film Studies. His first directorial project became Feast Coast, which has now been accepted into many local, national and international film festivals.
Adam Fackelman - Director of Photography: Adam Fackelman is a film director, writer, and cinematographer from Charlotte, NC. His fascination with film began when he would play with his father's camera throughout his childhood. He is inspired by filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, The Coen Brothers, Christopher Nolan, and Martin Scorsese. Adam frequently works as a cinematographer, and has collaborated on projects like Feast Coast (2016), 1994 AD (2015), and Love or Not (2014). Adam is currently working with Aedan Coughlin and Jack Gentry on a documentary about stand-up comedy entitled Open Mic (2016).
Jessica Jackson - Sound Designer: Jessica has always had an interest in film and what goes on not only in front of the camera, but especially behind it. While editing is one of her talents and favorite things to do, she has taken on an interest in sound concepts. This interest led her to work on Feast Coast (2015) as a sound designer and It’s Not Okay (2015) as a sound mixer. Feast Coast was accepted into several festivals, including Reel Teal, LA Cinefest, Golden Sun, and Visions6. Jess aspires to one day become either a full-time editor or sound designer for a television series, in particular Supernatural since it shows no signs of ever ending…which she’s okay with.
When fate suddenly gives Jamill the break he's been looking for, in the form of a winning lottery ticket, he learns firsthand that life is a gamble.
Viraj Nayar - Director: Viraj Nayar is a Philadelphia-based filmmaker, originally from Mumbai, India. He recently graduated from Temple University’s Film and Media Arts program. Viraj’s films have a strong urban aesthetic and center around inner city life. His short film DICE has been screened in film festivals in the U.S., India, London, and Canada. He is currently working on the post production for Mil's Life, his latest film, as well as freelance corporate work.
Aches is an experimental film created to highlight different types of abuse ranging from animal, environmental, and domestic. Through the use of still motion and green screening techniques, Aches draws attention to abuse happening daily and all around us.
Brynn Wilkins - Director: Brynn is thrilled to screen Aches at Visions Film Festival & Conference! Having majored in Film & Media Studies and Media Production, Brynn has a passion for film, creativity, and leadership. Brynn thrives creatively through producing and directing award-winning short films that are currently screening across the country. While directing and producing Aches, Brynn simultaneously directed and produced the web series Patched. The series will soon be screened at the LA Webfest where Brynn was nominated for Outstanding Director. During her time as a film student at the University of Rochester, Brynn received four awards for her achievements in filmmaking and for extracurricular contributions to bettering the school’s film program. After completing her fifth year at U of R as a Kauffman Entrepreneurial Scholar and co-founding BuzzReel Film & Video Productions, Brynn currently works as the Creative Content Coordinator for Nichols School. Previously, Brynn has worked for companies such as HBO, Columbia Pictures, and the American Film Institute. Brynn is humbled to be part of Visions Film Festival & Conference, and is grateful to all who support her passion!
“Leroy’s Lobster Shack”
A twenty year old recluse suffers delusions of working at a non-existent lobster shack. When his sister discovers this, she seeks help from her guidance counselor to get her brother back to normal.
Sean Mercado - Director, Writer, Composer: Sean Mercado is the director, writer and composer of Leroy’s Lobster Shack. This short film was Sean’s senior thesis at George Mason University, where he received a BA in Film and Video Studies. His previous work includes Pizza Money Star System, where he also contributed visual effects. He is currently in the writing process of his next project.
David Mason - Colorist, Visual Effects Artist: David Mason is the colorist and visual effects artist for Leroy’s Lobster Shack. He is a current student at George Mason University and an excellent drummer.
“Bippy and the Bug”
Bippy is a little robot living in a computer and he does his best to figure out a strange error in the computer. This short is relatable to anyone who has ever been frustrated by technical difficulties.
Ariel Chan - Director: Ariel Chan grew up drawing comics on spare pieces of paper, now her collection has grown into piles of sketchbooks. Attending The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Ariel learned animation to improve her visual storytelling ability. Currently, Ariel is writing and drawing comics to share with everyone.
Joy is a dark comedy about two girls who find their friend's dead body in the bathtub right before a birthday party. How far will Lucy go to save Cecilia's big night and win her admiration?
Alisa Cacho-Sousa - Co-Director: Alisa is a graduating senior at Tulane University where she studies sociology and Digital Media Production. She is set to graduate this coming may and hopes to continue making films, both narrative and documentary, wherever her post graduate life takes her. She is most interested in themes relating to the social spaces in which people find themselves and how they navigate those contexts.
Jack Turzillo - Co-Director: Jack Turzillo is a filmmaker from the 'burbs of Portland, Oregon with interests in cinematography, writing, and directing. He is a senior Cinema and Media Studies major at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. In Fall 2014, he traveled to Prague, Czech Republic to study film production at FAMU, where he produced “Joy” on 16mm film. Since then, he has worked on several productions at Carleton, such as "Colorblind," which was recently admitted to the 35th Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. Last summer, he interned with CIEE, and created a short promotional documentary, "These Are The Memories," and presented it to company executives. Most recently, he completed his thesis film, "Hunk," which he wrote, directed, and edited. Going forward, Jack hopes to further explore and deconstruct hegemonic masculinity and hone his storytelling chops. He is currently collaborating with Brit Fryer on a short film called "IN,” as well as developing a less experimental horror short centered around fear and gender.
The Dew Drop Inn (New Orleans, 1945) was once the most popular and significant heritage spots for African American traditions of R&B, blues, and jazz. Its owner, Kenneth Jackson, struggles to renovate and open it's doors again for a new generation.
Palmer Morse - Co-Director: Palmer Morse is a freelance documentary cinematographer and editor from Ithaca, New York. He focuses on the devices at hand in visual and media culture that can drive our society to make change. He has successfully directed, produced, filmed, and edited several short documentaries on various subjects. Palmer has also aided in the creation of several other bodies of work such as Passfire by Veverka Bros Productions LLC, The Age of Consequences by PF pictures, and Science in a Golden Age produced by Al Jazeera English. Palmer is proficient in filming, directing, producing, and using various platforms such as Adobe Premiere and Avid Media Composer to edit content.
Rachel Weinberg - Co-Director: Rachel Weinberg is a recent graduate from the Documentary Studies and Production program at Ithaca College. She received a Bachelors of Arts degree with a minor in history. Rachel uses documentary and media to raise awareness of social issues and to tell the untold stories of many. Currently, she is working on a short film, Dew Drop, which follows the restoration of the famous New Orleans jazz landmark the Dew Drop Inn. Along with that production, she is currently working on, The Provider, which is featured in the documentary short category at South By Southwest this March, 2016. The Provider follows the story of an abortion doctor, Dr. Shannon Carr, who travels in order to perform services in restrictive parts of the country. Rachel has had the opportunity to travel the country and meet and work with a number of interesting people. Some memorable internships she was a part of include: Two River Pictures, Stand Up 2 Cancer, Interloper Films, and the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.
“Beauty of Motion” Live Art Installation
“Art of Motion”
An abstract animation to show hidden or unseen beauty in movement. The main inspiration for this piece is early multi flash photography created and invented by Harold Edgerton (1937).
Victoria Abbott - Director: Victoria is a UK animation graduate who's predominantly 2D abstract work merges the line between film and fine art. She is particularly interested in getting an audience to actively experience and engage with her work. If it's possible to show someone something completely new or a new perspective on an old topic this is what Victoria aspires to do.
"Beauty of Motion Installation"
An exciting adventure into the beautiful motions of everyday life.
FILM BLOCK 2:
A short documentary about the passionate roller skating community at Skate Express. The rink is one of the few remaining rinks in California. Ranging from ages eighteen to eighty-six , the skaters find a home, a family, and a lifestyle at the rink.
Isabelle Platt - Director: Isabelle Platt is a recent college graduate. Originally from Portland, OR. She now lives in New York City working in post-production on a documentary.
“The Red Witch”
A geologist on Mars fights alone to uncover the planet's secrets, before the green of terraforming covers the red planet forever.
Aron Bothman - Director: Aron Bothman is an animator and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He is a recent graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, having also studied at the Gobelins animation school in Paris as well as the University of California at Berkeley. He works primarily using stop-motion and computer animation techniques. His recent work has included character faces for the Charlie Kaufman feature film Anomalisa, stop-motion effects for a Tame Impala music video, and various animation projects for JibJab Studios in Los Angeles. He is a native of California and loves painting and sculpture.
De Profundis is inspired by true events. Mariola, an ordinary rural women, must confront the death of her two daughters. Without wishing to be reconciled with the loss of their desperation, the mother takes the girls out of the grave and begins to treat them as living.
Eugene Pankov - Director: Eugene Pankov - born in 1988 in Rivne (Ukraine). Student of directing department at Lodz Film School. Since 4 years old he lives in Poland. Writer and director of seven short films and laureate of international film awards (i.a. Grand Prix at Osenkinofest in Moscov, Best Documentary Student Short Award at Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards).
“Ronnie Ward - Brewton, AL”
Ronnie Ward - Brewton AL is an experimental film exploring the tragic loss of a young family member and the otherworldly occurrences that loss created within the family itself.
Hamilton Ward - Director: Hamilton Young Ward is a videographer, illustrator and designer based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. He enjoys creating experimental films as well as documentaries, and takes inspiration from Pop Culture, video games, 1940’s Americana, and Southern Folklore and Legends.
Caught between the incessant nagging at school and a toxic environment at home, Tyesha has never really felt like she fit in anywhere. When she was sexually assaulted, she felt like she didn’t even belong in her own skin. But when an alternative spoken word class came to her high school, she learned how to put her struggles into words.
Ora Dekornfeld - Director: Ora DeKornfeld, a recent graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studied Media and Gender Studies. She enjoys telling stories through video, audio and dance. She is candid, intrepid, and unapologetically herself. Some of her clients include the New York Times, P&G, The Los Angeles Times and Found Sound Nation. Her work has been recognized by SXSW, Pictures of the Year International, College Photographer of the Year and The Webby Awards among others. She loves acro yoga, feminist satire, and sleeping on coffee shop sofas. She hates writing in the third person. She is currently based in Brooklyn, N.
Imprison is about showing the world that keeping Orcas in captivity in water parks is wrong. Whales are not meant to be kept in fish bowls, and as a result, beautiful magnificent creative are developing psychosis that put everyone working with them in danger.
Emma Brett-Phare - Director: Emma-Louise Brett-Phare is a student currently studying at the University for the Creative arts, based in the United Kingdom. After growing up in a very artistic family, she knew from very early on that she wanted to be involved within the creative industry, and through her love of film and drawing, found her place within Animation. She has a strong vision, that through her work, she feels that she can raise awareness of modern challenges facing her generation and future generations. Whilst also inspiring the audience through the beauty that is animation.
Alongside her work as an animator she is an independent illustrator, having just finished her second children’s book. She says, ‘I’m working on bringing the style I use for my illustrations for my next animation project. I want to be able to create lots of different films, fun playful and exciting films, as well as films with a more serious message about the future and the world we live in. It is important to raise awareness of the big issues facing the world today, but it is equally important that we don’t get swept away and forget the smallest things, like how to laugh and be happy.’
New initiate Betty Sue shares a daunting story that redefines 'new blood' to one of the deadliest gangs in New York, The Bumblebees.
Sebastian Sdaigui - Director: Sebastian Sdaigui is a director/writer who graduated from New York University Tisch School of the Arts, with a BFA in Film and TV. Prior to NYU, Sebastian served 4 years in the United States Navy. While at NYU Tisch, he surpassed expectations and received a variety of awards and recognitions. Sebastian was recognized as one of the Top Transfers of NYU, selected as a winner for the New Visions and Voices Festival, along with The Niklas Kalborg award. Sebastian also received NYU's most prestigious filmmaker award, the merit-based W.T.C Johnson Fellowship, a full tuition scholarship only awarded to 1 student per year.
Davis is a young boy in a broken home with an ambitious imagination. He is forced to come to terms with reality much quicker than most.
Zach Bailey - Director: Zach Bailey is a Film Studies major at The University of North Carolina Wilmington, graduating in the fall of 2016. Zach is moving to LA next May, with a fellow graduate from the University of Southern California’s Film program, to work and further their love for film and storytelling. Zach constructs stories with his close friend and partner Louis Celano. Both are from right outside of Baltimore, Maryland (Clarksville).
Daniel Agre - Director of Photography: Daniel’s skill is in cinematography and photography. He lives near Baltimore, Maryland (Olney) and enjoys snowboarding at a competitive level, and filming various projects around the world. All of the crew on “Thrash” are great friends and will continue to collaborate together for many projects to come. We hoped to capture the struggles and beauty of growing up and overcoming hardship.
Louis Celano - Editor, Writer: Louis Celano co-wrote, scored, and edited the film. He shares a deep passion for creating music, animation and editing. He currently works for a virtual reality company and films for a concert venue in Baltimore, MD.
What happens when you ask strangers online to send you videos about their period stories? Period Stories is an award-winning, crowdsourced short documentary about menstruation experiences from around the world.
Charlotte Forsgård - Director: Charlotte Forsgård is a film student from Helsinki, Finland. She works through experimental techniques and methods. Her work tends to deal with taboos, conventions, and the problematics of truth. In 2015, Charlotte debuted as a documentary director with her award-winning short film, Period Stories. Her latest work is an algorithm-based web art piece, “You Were Funnier Depressed,” which randomly generates an infinite pseudo-conversation out of ~2,000 instant messages found on the phone. Charlotte is currently studying towards a Bachelor’s degree in cinematography and editing at Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.
In this ominous landscape, she dances, catching glimpses of her full colored portrait in the mirrors.
Zige Zhang - Director: Zige Zhang is an animator and a filmmaker who was born in China and currently lives in Chicago. Zige loves dramatic stories and fables that can bring joy and meaning to children. Her career goal is to produce complex and interesting animation of her own direction or as part of a creative team. Also, Zige is interested in singing and composing, and is currently working on a musical-animation King of the House.
“Everyday Heroes: The Story of Dr. Hooves”
Doctor Hooves is a brave surgeon who lives the American dream until he encounters danger during an operation that changed the course of his family’s life.
Caleb Ennis - Director: Caleb Ennis is a native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is a fourth year student at University of North Carolina-School of the Arts, where he will be graduating in May 2016. During the fall of 2015, he was an extras casting coordinator for a feature film in High Point, NC called Shifting Gears. In the summer of 2015, he directed a stage play called Mississippi Born and Bred starring Tonea Stewart. Caleb aspires to work at a casting agency after graduation, while trying to become a music video and commercial director.
“Universal's Frankenstein Series: Sequelization, Re-issues, and Marketing Before the Blockbuster Era”
While the methodology for successful blockbuster and franchise films began to fully develop in the eighties, Universal Pictures’ Frankenstein films of the thirties and forties serve as a precedent for many of the effective formulas used in modern Hollywood film marketing.
Scholar - Garrett Spake: Garrett Spake is a recent graduate from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Film Studies. He plans to pursue a career as a writer and director, but also holds a great passion for film scholarship as well. In April 2015, Garrett presented a research paper on Cuban Cinema at the 5th Visions Film Festival and Conference. In December 2015, he received an award for Excellence in Critical Studies from the UNCW Film Studies Department upon his graduation. After spending the summer of 2015 in Los Angeles, Garrett plans on traveling back to the West Coast to pursue employment in the near future.
“Wish I Were Special: Gay Panic, Masculinity, and the Queer Other in Creep and The Gift” - Kyle Turner
In the horror films Creep (2015) and The Gift (2015), the restrictive frameworks of (toxic) masculinity provide contexts for this very form of othering, the former as unironic perpetuation of the trope and the latter as satirical critique of those frameworks.
Scholar - Kyle Turner: Growing up in East Hampton, CT, Kyle Turner spent most of his youth making excuses to write about film in any possible context, even in grade school homework, having fallen in love with Bringing Up Baby at age five. In 2007, he began writing his blog “I Like Things That Look Like Mistakes”. He started writing for other outlets in 2011, and expanded into freelance writing in 2014. In 2013, he graduated from the Connecticut IB Academy with both his high school diploma as well as his IB Diploma; his research essay, “The Men Who Weren’t There: The Unreliable Narrator and His Effect on Audience Perception of Reality and Truth in New-Noir in Memento and American Psycho“, would later be published in Film Matters Magazine in 2014.
He has since contributed to a number of publications, including Playboy, Esquire, Flavorwire, Pacific Standard Magazine, MUBI, Fandor, IndieWire’s/Bent Blog, and others. His work primarily focuses on film through a feminist and/or queer lens. Currently a junior at the University of Hartford, he is expected to graduate May 2017 with a BA in Cinema with a concentration in Cinema Studies. John Waters once told him he was a good dancer. He is relieved to know he is not a golem.
“The Geographies of Corruption and Innocence in Broken Blossoms and Sunrise” - Katie Comfort
Characters in two silent films, Broken Blossoms (1919) and Sunrise (1927), variously embody aspects of innocence and corruption. However, their positioning in specific environments conflicts with and complicates the traditional stereotypes associated with those motifs.
Scholar - Katie Comfort: Katie Comfort was born in Gainesville, Florida in 1994. She first started dreaming of becoming J.K. Rowling at the age of seven when she began her love affair with the Harry Potter series. She has loved movies for as long as she can remember, but her obsession first emerged at the age of ten as a result of watching Joel Schumacher’s The Phantom of the Opera (2004) and her discovery of the black hole that is the Internet Movie Database. At fourteen, she took her first creative writing class, which initiated her foray into seriously pursuing writing, and wrote her first full-length, completely unpublishable, novel. In high school, she was a copywriter and co-editor of her school’s yearbook for two years, and mastered superimposing images in Photoshop, a talent since forgotten. At nineteen, she made a long-awaited pilgrimage to the land and locations that brought the world the Harry Potter films, which only added to her filmic fervor. She still resides in Gainesville, Florida, having succumbed to the pull of her Gator Nation heritage as a transfer student. After spending various semesters as a History or International Studies major, she finally settled on an English major, since that allows her to nerd out over books and movies as her homework. Katie spends most of her time watching TCM and Netflix and thinking of story ideas that she rarely ends up writing down.
“The Letter of Resurgence: Looking at Dear Zachary as New-Wave Cinéma Vérité” - Travis Merchant
Recently, there's been a resurgence of an old style, cinéma vérité, that seeks to examine their subjects with a peculiar sense of subjectivity and reflexivity. Dear Zachary is a perfect example of how this style works, and how other films may use the same techniques to look at the world in new, interesting ways.
Scholar - Travis Merchant: Travis R. Merchant is a student majoring in Film Studies and English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. He is currently finishing his final year, ending strong with an honors project in Film Studies on dialogism between the films of Sofia Coppola and Spike Jonze, and working at the university’s Writing Center as a tutor. He has written pieces that will be published in Film Matters magazine, concerning Stanley Kubrick’s struggle with censorship, and in-depth analyses on scenes in The Darjeeling Limited (2007) and Magnificent Obsession (1954). His plans for the future include attending grad school and teaching film studies, all while working on screenplays he hopes to film one day.