Creative Tradition Continues at Highbridge Film Festival

WILMORE, Ky. — What began as an experiment in 2005 continues to inspire the creative talents of Asbury University students — and the friends and families who support them — as the 2013 Highbridge Film Festival demonstrated this weekend.

Asbury's a cappella singing group, "Ahem," performed for the crowd waiting for the doors to open.
Asbury's a cappella singing group, "Ahem," performed for the crowd waiting for the doors to open.

More than 1,200 people packed Asbury’s historic Hughes Auditorium Saturday to view 13 Asbury student films and one high-school film that had been screened by professors in the School of Communication Arts. A panel of industry judges recognized several films within this group for further distinction.

Judges for this year’s festival included Christopher Bessette, a director of films such as “Trade of Innocents” and “The Enemy God”; Lana Corbi, former CEO of The Hallmark Channel’s domestic channel; Brian Godawa, a director, author and screenwriter of the film “To End All Wars”; and Rodney Charters, cinematographer of all eight seasons of the hit show “24.”

For Erik Thein, director of “Comfortable,” the Highbridge Film Festival came directly on the heels of a positive reception for his work at the Floyd Film Festival in Louisville earlier this month. With two successful festivals under his belt, he plans to continue to seek broader exposure for the film.

“We successfully raised about $460 on Indiegogo.com for ‘Comfortable,’ so with that money we will submit to several festivals around the nation, including The Heartland Film Festival and The Atlanta Film Festival,” Thein said.

A reception in the Miller Center for Communication Arts followed the film screening.
A reception in the Miller Center for Communication Arts followed the film screening.

Each of the films in the Festival falls in the “short film” genre and is limited to eight minutes for a narrative, 10 minutes for a documentary and three minutes for a super short. As in years past, the diversity of subject matter and perspectives demonstrated that the office purpose of the Festival — to express and explore the human condition through the power of the visual story — captures both the personal and universal.

In addition to featuring student films, the Festival is put together by students, as well. Each spring, a class called “Special Events Promotions and Productions” plans each aspect of the event, from decorations at the reception that follows the screening to the design of the programs and recruitment of sponsors.

Junior Morgan Irish created a documentary for Highbridge, “Swing Out,” in addition to working on a video promotion of the film festival for the production class. Seeing the process from both sides was both time-consuming and satisfying.

“Between producing ‘Swing Out’ and planning for Highbridge (which included producing the PSA that was featured), Saturday evening's event represented about 75 percent of all my work and effort this semester in just three concentrated hours,” Irish said. “As we all walked out of the Miller Center at 2 a.m. after cleaning up, I felt extremely proud to be associated with all those who helped make Highbridge possible. They were amazing people to work with.”

And the awards go to …

Best High School Film Entry
Aaron Winneroski (“Buddy”)

Best Screenplay
Erik Thein (“Comfortable”)

Best Cinematography
Zac Haske (“Blessèd Veil”)

Best Sound Editing
Phillip Jackson (“Charged”)

Best Sound Mixing
Isaac Blade (“Blessèd Veil”)

Best Editing
Brownrygg Woolls (“Free Flowing”)

Best Original Music Score
Shelby Watson (“Comfortable”)

Best Special Visual Effects
Erik Thein (“Comfortable”)

Best Actress
Rebeca Robles (“Made Up”) 

Best Actor
Andrew Hunter (“Comfortable”)

Best Documentary
“Free Flowing,” by Brownrygg Woolls and “Swing Out,” by Morgan Irish (tie)

Best Drama
“Blessèd Veil,” by Isaac Blade

Best Comedy
“Charged,” by Nathaniel Winckler

Best Super Short
“Charged,” by Nathaniel Winckler

Audience Choice Award
“Charged,” by Nathaniel Winckler

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