Professors Brian Fuller and Daniel Garcia amid symbols of the film universe.
Every year, the audience grows. “Slowly, students brought in the actors, their friends, their families,” said communication arts and sciences (CAS) professor Daniel Garcia. Over the short history of the biannual Media Showcase, the line of people waiting to enjoy a semester’s worth of cinematic output from Calvin’s media production students has stretched up the stairs from the Robert L. Bytwerk Video Theater and into the DeVos Communication Center lobby.
“People would buy food and eat it in line while they were waiting,” said CAS professor Brian Fuller about the event, whose popularity has necessitated a change of venue: The 2010 edition of the Media Showcase will be held on 7 p.m., Saturday, December 11, in the new recital hall in the Covenant Fine Arts Center. “It’s a wonderful, terrific evening,” he said.
Featured on the program are the final film projects from all of the Calvin media production classes, and all genres are represented. “The student films can be about anything. I've seen gangster dramas, instructional pieces about fire safety, documentaries about railroad enthusiasts, zombie films, musicals, and comedies. We never really know what's coming through the door,” Fuller said.
Also featured are a few faculty offerings. Fuller will show a clip from his recently completed documentary A Shared Space: learning from the Mustard Seed School. His media production colleague Daniel Garcia will show a film of Balinese dancers that originally appeared in the 2009 exhibition Charis: Neighbors, Strangers, Family, Friends, Boundary Crossings. Chief engineer and CAS professor Jake Bosmeijer will show a video about jury duty and one about computer science.
Night of superheroes
The theme for this year’s showcase is superhero movies, an idea that originated with one of several lab aids helping Fuller to organize the event: “I’m a pretty big fan of superhero movies,” confessed Taylor Wogoman, who, in addition to having three videos in the showcase, also helped to produce the theme videos for the evening. “I have been putting a lot of work into them.” (Wogoman also persuaded Fuller, Garcia and Bosmeijer into costume for one of the films, but he refused to divulge their superhero identities.)
Former Media Showcases have focused on film specialities such as the western, and the French New Wave. Last year’s theme was 1950s Atomic Science Fiction Movies: “We actually shot the intro in 3–D and passed out glasses,” said Fuller, who explained that the showcase themes are not gimmicks: “We have an opportunity not just to show off student works but to teach about a genre of film,” he said. “We are using themes to connect with film theory and criticism.”
Planning the showcase (another edition of which happens in May) means long hours for Fuller and the students. “This week leading up to showcase is actually my finals week…,” Wogoman said. “Thursday is the day all the final projects are due, so the other lab aids and myself will be spending Thursday night putting them together into the showcase Blu-ray and mastering the DVDs to sell. It usually lasts well into the morning.”
Nights in DeVos
And students with films in the showcase are also logging a lot of overtime, said Fuller: “These people work just mercilessly hard,” he said. “It would be hard to convince people of the number of hours that these people spend in the editing cubicles—they just don’t go home.”
There’s a lot of appraising going on at Media Showcase, Fuller said, and a lot of networking. “The 100-level students are looking at what the upper-level projects are like. And the seniors are looking at the underclassmen and thinking, ‘Aw, he’s got game.’ So, allegiances are beginning to form in the lobby after the show. It’s one of the big nights we create community.”
It’s also the night that media production student test their work on a wider audience. “The payoff is the reaction of their parents and their sweeties and their friends,” Fuller said, “and to have that happen all in one night is a rush.”