RCTV celebrated their student filmmakers on Thursday with their 52 Hour Film Festival screening. The club showcased the three films submitted during this semester’s 52 Hour Film Challenge, which lasted from 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14 to midnight on Monday, Oct. 17.
The 52 Hour Film Challenge is a semesterly tradition for RCTV, where students have slightly more than two days to write, shoot and edit their films. There are certain criteria that the films must meet, such as the genre, as well as a prop and a line of dialogue that must be included. For this semester’s challenge, the genre was comedy, the prop was a key and the line of dialogue was “What the hell were you thinking?”
The film screening, hosted in the H-wing auditorium, was an intimate gathering of about 15 people, which may seem small to most. However, President Hailey Drake and Vice President Grace Saltalamacchia were ecstatic about the turnout.
As they served pizza to attendees before the screening, the auditorium was full of chatter, laughter and camaraderie, indicating how well the students in the club know each other and get along. It felt more like a friendly hangout than a club meeting.
The first film was a claymation silent film titled “Knead to Go Home.” Only about a minute in length, the film follows a piece of clay on its journey home, accompanied by black title cards with text between shots to convey context and tone. The simplicity of the concept made the film charming. The filmmaker, Lauren Wilson, explained that she randomly came up with the idea and filmed and edited it by herself in her dorm room in a span of two hours, and her enjoyment is clear in the final product.
The second film was a parody of an audition tape for “America’s Got Talent,” appropriately titled “America Needs Talent.” Filmed in the H-wing auditorium, the film follows a person performing a lackluster magic act with their assistant, played by Ally Higgins and Elle Pascal respectively. While the film’s audio was certainly in need of improvement, the film was still an enjoyable watch, full of hijinks, magic tricks gone wrong and silly behind-the-scenes moments that were “accidentally” kept on the audition tape. All of these elements combined to create an impressive film that excels in its comedy.
Higgins was the main mastermind behind the film, pulling the team together, which consisted of themself, Pascal and Samantha Toronto.
“I immediately thought of Bo Burnham’s ‘Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous’ and was really trying to channel that energy. I knew I wanted to break the fourth wall,” they said. “Then, the magician kind of came to me when I heard ‘key,’ which was the component that you needed to use.”
The trio went on to reflect on their process for creating the film.
“It was a really fun experience. From writing it, which was essentially just bare bones, like I didn’t write any dialogue. It was just kind of like ‘These are the tricks we’re gonna do.’ It was more improv,” Higgins said.
“Something that I really enjoyed also was the props that were used in it were so spontaneous… Like the black cloak that we made into a joke, we just found that on the ground and were like ‘This would work great,” Pascal added.
The final film was a comedy titled “One Man’s Treasure,” which follows two men who were hired to steal money, but it doesn’t go as planned. The film was created by Alaina Murphy, who explained that she made it in one day in her hometown with some of her friends. It turned out to be a good bonding experience for them.
The films were evaluated by three anonymous Ramapo film professors, who selected “America Needs Talent” as the winner. The trio behind the film was awarded a gift card to the Ramapo bookstore.
Drake and Saltalamacchia highlighted the reason that the 52 Hour Film Festival is so important for RCTV and the Ramapo community as a whole.
“I think it’s a good outlet for our film students and non-film students to express themselves, but without the worry of it being for a grade,” Drake said.
“If you take a film class, it’s for a grade and there’s that pressure. A lot of time that pressure and stress takes away from the fun,” Saltalamacchia said. “I think this is so important because… we can have fun while doing this. It’s really supposed to be about your creativity and having a good time.”
Photo courtesy of Grace Saltalamacchia.