Four campus filmmakers finish final projects, overcome difficulties

By Michelle Menner

Drinking, drugs, and getting into fights are all a part of one Baltimore guitarist’s world. By day he washes windows, and by night he is a part of a hard partying heavy metal band. His name is Scott, and his band is the subject of Taylor Hebden’s film for her senior project.

In addition to Hebden, seniors Steven Eggers, David Nasongkhla, and Billy Duffy have been working hard on their films this semester for their final project as film and video studies minors. Each had to overcome some challenges while filming, but their dreams for future filmmaking are still alive.

“My dreams definitely include film. I want to be involved in film in anyway possible,” said Hebden.

“Whether it has to do with writing, working the camera, directing, editing. I love it all.”

Hebden’s film, titled “Playing in the Dark,” is about the above mentioned guitarist, Scott. Her film follows Scott’s life as a part of the band and tries to answer the question of whether Scott will continue his destructive behavior or eventually grow up.

“I enjoyed being around a group of heavy metal dudes. They partied really hard and always showed me a good time,” said Hebden.

Sometimes the hard partying ways of the band created obstacles for Hebden because “Scott wouldn’t pick up his phone when I needed him,” she said.

Initially, this film about the life of a heavy metal musician may never have been captured by Hebden’s camera, because of her experience on the first day of her scriptwriting class.

“When I found out my first day of scriptwriting that we had to write an entire full length script in one semester, I wanted to drop the class right then and there, because I didn’t think I could do it,” said Hebden. “I stuck with it though, and I’m so glad that I did. It felt so rewarding to have a full-length script at the end of the semester.”

Fellow filmmaker Eggers feels that his documentary “The Green of McDaniel” will send a positive message to the campus community about the Environmental Action Club’s (EAC) efforts to make the campus more environmentally friendly.

The film focuses on the EAC and director Conner Rasmussen’s involvement with RecycleMania, Earth Day, and Trash Quest.

“The most enjoyable part of making the film was feeling like I was a part of the EAC,” said Eggers.

While filming, Eggers had scheduling conflicts due to his busy semester, and even some technical glitches when using Final Cut, Apple’s editing software.

Despite those challenges, Eggers hopes that his film will be shown beyond the Hill to other schools.

“I think it’s important to get the word out that we are constantly making efforts to help the environment,” said Eggers.

Another filmmaker who hopes that his film will be shown “everywhere and anywhere” is Nasongkhla.

His fictional narrative “How You Land” is about the struggle of one man’s decision to remain loyal to his low-life best friends, or to strive for a better life with the help of a girl he meets at work.

Nasongkhla ran into trouble on the first day of shooting though.

“Shooting outdoors was the biggest challenge. The microphones built into the cameras pick up all sounds, including wind,” said Nasongkhla. “So a lot of my footage from the first day of shooting had to be thrown out because the wind ruined [the] audio.”

Nasongkhla credits script writing, film analysis, and documentary production as the classes that contributed to his filmmaking skills. However, his love of film did not start on the Hill. Nasongkhla’s passion for film didn’t even start behind a camera, but it began when he was an actor.

“A close friend of mine in high school asked me to act in one of his student films. He introduced me to the whole filmmaking process, and from then on I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker,” said Nasongkhla.

Duffy’s love of film started in high school too and led him to create the film “Player’s Thumb.”

After partaking in some “bad weed” the film’s main character, Tom, begins to hear video game music inside his head which ultimately results in the termination of his friendships.

While filming, Duffy enjoyed the “ridiculous” improvisation that some of the actors provided, and even had to deal with an unexpected challenge when the lead actor decided to dye his hair.

Duffy’s dream of having his film shown beyond the campus will not be possible though.

“I don’t have the rights to a music track in [the film] and it would result in a law suit anywhere outside academia,” said Duffy.

All law suits aside, these four students credit McDaniel with fueling their love of film and hope that they will become the filmmakers of tomorrow.