Final short film festival dedicated to Jack Canfield - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Final short film festival dedicated to Jack Canfield

CASPER, Wyo. — The last ever Wyoming High School Statewide Short Film Festival begins at 7 p.m. Friday May, 24.

17 student-made films will be shown at Natrona County High School’s John F. Welsh Auditorium. Tickets for the festival are $10.

NC film and television instructor Lance Madzey said that this year’s festival is dedicated to Jack Canfield.

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“We are also dedicating the film festival to Jack Canfield,” he said. “I graduated with him back in 1989 and was looking forward to seeing him this next summer at our 30 high school reunion. He took his life recently and we want to send some more awareness about depression out there into the world.”

Madzey, some of his students and Kelly Walsh film and television instructor Jeff Chavez talked about some of this year’s film line-up.

“We have every genre represented – a great way to finish up!” Madzey said.The film selections (listed below) were announced via video on Facebook.

Students Evan Short and Canyon Hawkinson said their film “Juggle, Juggle” made it into the festival and is a sort of tribute to their teacher.

“Mr. Madzey, he likes to juggle,” Hawkinson said.

Hawkinson added that there is no dialogue in their film.

“It’s a lot easier to make things dramatic without dialogue,” he said.

The students added that they are sad to see the festival go, but understand the decision.

“Choosing to stop a big production like this, there must have been a lot of reasons,” Hawkinson said.

Madilyn Davenport talked about her film “Lost & Found,” which features her neighbor’s dog Cole. She said her film has a message about the importance of adopting older dogs.

“Whenever you go to the pound, you see younger dogs getting adopted,” Davenport said, adding that older dogs need adopting as well.

Madzey said that directing dogs is a difficult task.

“This one’s going to jerk tears,” he said. “It’s about a dog who’s owner dies unexpectedly. And so what happens to the older dog when he’s left in that house by himself.”

“It also gives a shout out to that it’s better to adopt animals then shop around for them at pet stores and stuff like that. And so it’s got a great message. And I think the audience will appreciate that. It’s not easy to direct a dog.”

Jillian Wallace’s film “Detour” is also in the festival.

“Jill, she likes to act,” Madzey said. “She’s won best actress the past two years in a row. She’s in two films this year. One directed by her boyfriend and she’s in the second one that she directed.”

“I’m really proud of her for doing her own thing, and it’s really metaphorical as well. It’s about what it’s like growing up as a teenage female and she gets pretty deep.”

Wallace said she wanted to push herself by making her own film this year.

“Madzey has always taught me that you can’t get things done if you don’t apply yourself,” she said. “He’s always been by my side telling me to push myself.”

KW students also have some films in the festival, one of which Madzey described as “some stop-motion sickeness.” That film is “Darkness Revealed.” Chavez also talked about this film.

“A kid by the name of Jia Yang Liu, he’s created two films outside of class that are just, one is a stop-motion and the amount of time and effort that goes into a stop-motion are just ridiculous,” Chavez said.

Olivia Elvestad’s “Him” is another KW entry.

“It is absolutely gorgeous,” Chavez said. “She wasn’t in a class so this was pretty much all on her own free time, shooting and coming in before and after school and editing the project.”

“This is the third year that she’s entered it and every year that she’s entered, she’s walked away with some kind of award. And this is some of her best work out of the three years, visually, editing, story-telling, it’s all there.”

Chavez continued.

“And another one I think audiences would be interested in is called ‘Phubbing’ by Stephen Lavato,” he said. “It’s about cell phone and technology addicition. He’s gets a really good point of view of not only his kind of age group. Parents, he talks to a school psychologist. It really covers all the angles of it. I think it was a very well done piece.”

KW senior Nicole Klungness has two films in the festival.

“She has two films, a narrative and a documentary,” Chavez said. “Her narrative is just, oh, it’s emotional to watch, it hits all those right points. There’s definitely an emotional connection there for me.”

“She also did a documentary on cross-fit. I think this is another excellent piece. She talked with a couple of different athletes as well as some physicians, a trainer. It really encompasses the idea of cross-fit.”

Madzey said that not all of the films were made by Casper students. “Umbral” comes from Cody.

“This one I think is pretty sick too and it’s from Cody High School,” he said.

Madzey said that previous festivals have seen more participation from around the state, and the declining number of submissions are one of the reasons he thinks it’s time to stop.

“We used to get a ton of stuff,” he said. “We’d get stuff from Cheyenne, Laramie, Riverton, Big Piney one year. I didn’t even know that Big Piney was in Wyoming until that year, I just didn’t know.”

He talked about another film which stands out because of the festival coming to a close.

“This is like a post-apocalyptic film called ‘Crooked Mile’ about survival,” he said. “So Ava’s dad, Charles Conkin, directed films like this when he was in school in the late ’90s, and now she’s doing the same kind of films. And her film is in the festival this year, so that’s kind of another full-circle thing.”

Both Madzey and Chavez said the festival is packed with a lot of strong entries and that they’re looking forward to the screenings.

The films will be judged in various categories.

The judges are Lucas Lee Graham, a cinematographer who worked on “Escape From Tomorrow” and “Suburban Gothic,” Maria Olsen, who acted in “Starry Eyes” and “Paranormal Activity 3,” Dick Grunert who has written for “Adventure Time,” Michael Champion, who acted in “Total Recall,” “Toy Soldiers,” “Star Trek” and “NYPD Blue,” and World Air Guitar Champion Justin Howard.

The following films will be screened at Friday’s festival:

  • Juggle, Juggle
  • Umbral
  • Are You Happy?
  • Blood of Brothers
  • Crooked Mile
  • Darkness Revealed
  • Blood Money
  • Detour
  • Him
  • Her Journal
  • Lost & Found
  • Phubbing
  • Rhubatosis
  • Remi Storm Stukey
  • The Box
  • Psychosis.
  • We Could Never Be