Remote Screening of Fordham Student Screenplays and Short films Shed light on the Talent of Students

Despite+the+virtual+format%2C+Fordham+students+succeed+in+presenting+their+screenplays+and+one-minute+films.+%28Courtesy+of+Fordham%E2%80%99s+Communications+and+Media+Studies+Department%2FThe+Fordham+Ram%29

Despite the virtual format, Fordham students succeed in presenting their screenplays and one-minute films. (Courtesy of Fordham’s Communications and Media Studies Department/The Fordham Ram)

Margaret Cryan, Contributing Writer

On March 25, Fordham’s Communications and Media Studies Department held live readings of student penned screenplays and a one-minute film festival following the readings. Only portions of the full screenplays were shared, keeping the audience hooked and in suspense for what would happen next. The time, effort and hard work put into each of the screenplays shined through as actors brought the written words to life. Fordham student Tommy Espinal (FCLC ’23) wrote a heart-wrenching story about the Dominican Civil war and vividly depicted through words the pain of a family torn apart by the war. Leo Lion set the scene for his screenplay, which featured whimsical elements, like unicorns and castles, through vivid stage directions. Lion described the setting of the castle’s kitchen as “dark, horrible, and crawling with rats,” making the scene easily visible in the minds of the audience. Although the screenplays were being read aloud over Zoom, by actors not in costume, it was easy for the audience to perceive a vivid image of what the film would look like once put together.

After the screenplays were read, the festivities continued, and winners of Fordham’s one-minute film festival were announced. Students were challenged to create quality films using different camera techniques, actors and plotlines, in just sixty seconds. The award-winning films were played for the audience over Zoom. Watching these films was truly an experience, because, like the screenplays, all of them were so unique. 

“Shell Shocked,” a film by Fordham student Ethan Manning (FCLC ’22), took the prize for best comedy, which featured a pet snail turning into escargot. Best thriller went to Thomas Koenig for his short film, “Kind of Darkness,” which his friend, Will Pasko (FCRH ’21) acted in. Koenig remarked that his “favorite thing is the combination of visual/audio in film” and that he ”loves films that explore complex ideas and use genre to do this.” In Koenig and Pasko’s film “Kind of like Darkness,” Pasko remarked that he was inspired to create this film by his love for movies that are “particularly a bit weird and non-directional.”

Before attending this event, my knowledge of the filmmaking process was pretty limited. Through viewing all twelve of the one-minute film winners, I was exposed to so many different stories, lessons, film techniques and acting skills. As an onlooker of the event, I feel as though I learned a lot about film from simply watching actors read scripts and stage directions. I left the event with a newfound appreciation for the time and practice it takes to create a film, even if that film is only a minute long. Through attending this event, I was exposed to a new community within Fordham, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching fellow students show off their unique talents. Koenig, winner of “best thriller” in the one-minute film festival, mentioned that he got involved with film in high school, but expanded his horizons at Fordham through the campus movie festival. This event served as a reminder of all the opportunities Fordham offers for student involvement, despite the inability for campus events to take place in person. 

This event presented the great talent and adaptability of Fordham students, as they were able to carry out their roles effectively in a remote setting. The lack of an in-person audience highlighted the talent and strength of actors and writers alike, as they successfully enacted the scripts without feedback from a crowd or the energy from fellow actors. Despite the implications of a few delays and sound issues, the film festival was a successful and engaging event for spectators. This event reflected elements of film production from start to finish. The process of film production became transparent as the audience could witness firsthand the writing and rehearsing of screenplays, and then experience the final production of a film through the one-minute entries. All in all, the lack of in-person interaction of this event made it challenging, but it was offset nicely with the talent of Fordham writers and actors.