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Clemson Film Club puts on second annual Student Film Festival

Mercedes Dubberly // Contributor

Blake Wright (left), a Clemson Film Club alumni and the host of the award ceremony, poses with Matthew McCurdy (right), a senior graphic communications major, who took home Best Actor in a Comedy and Best Directing for his short film “Into the Wild.”

Clemson Film Club’s second annual Student Film Festival expanded on its first festival in every possible way, with panels, screenings and red carpets that made for an all-day celebration of student work and the love of movies!
The morning of Saturday, March 11, began at 10:30 with an “Off-the-Set” panel of speakers who work in the film industry in areas both on- and off-set. Brodie Blizzard, a December 2022 World Cinema graduate, hosted the panel, with guests Kerrie Seymour, an associate professor of performing arts at Clemson, and a working actress, Rebecca Glenn, a graduate English student at Clemson and instructor of the arts, and Marcos Valadez, a working filmmaker.
The panel spoke of adaptability and resilience, the traits they dubbed most important for making it in the industry.
When asked to pick a piece of advice she wishes someone had told her younger self, Seymour answered, “‘No’ isn’t personal. ‘Yes’ is.” Seymour had a plethora of heartfelt advice for aspiring actors, reminding the audience that everyone in the industry must genuinely love the art to persevere in the face of rejection. “Film, like theatre, tells the story of everybody,” she said.
The day continued after a lunch break with a screening of the 18 short films submitted for judging in McKissick Theater. The audience switched rapidly between raucous laughter and somber silence as stories of addiction, romance and absurdity moved along with masterful efficiency. The entire festival was well-organized and flowed smoothly from each event to the next.
The festival returned to Hendrix Ballroom B for an alum panel of Film Club members with diverse career paths since their time at Clemson. Quinn Raedels, a production worker for the Atlanta Braves; Kenneth Jackson, a working actor best known for his role “Spider” in the short film “Fall Nights in China Grove;” Liz Roberts, a spring 2022 graduate currently working as an actress in Atlanta; and Elizabeth Braswell, a December 2022 graduate also working in Atlanta as a production worker, discussed the support system of Film Club and how taking advantage of every opportunity presented to them at Clemson set the group up for success in the beginnings of each of their careers.
Raedels reminded the audience that “it’s okay to make bad films,” and the four agreed that all experience is beneficial because the focus of a film student during their time in school should be directed toward a comprehensive study of the industry and all of the roles within it.
The main event, the red carpet award ceremony, opened its doors at 7 p.m. at Old Main, where photo opportunities and interviews transformed the lobby into a true Hollywood pre-show.
“Night Drive,” written and directed by Aidan Hubbs, a sophomore world cinema major, and Sam Langenfeld, a junior electrical engineering and world cinema double major, took home the most awards of the evening. The pair took the stage together to accept best music/sound and best production, where they detailed their extensive editing process, to which they attribute their win. Langenfeld returned to the stage solo for best cinematography, where he offered humble appreciation to his “partner-in-crime,” Hubbs, and all those who had a hand in the picture.
Hubbs was all smiles after the award show.
“We just kept working to make sure everything was just right. We didn’t sacrifice anything. We didn’t sacrifice on time, I’ll tell you that,” he said when asked about what got him and his partner their three awards.
“Hearing Red” won the coveted award for best short. Catherine Bergman, a junior environmental and natural resources major, and Sergio Burgos, a senior construction science and management major, collaborated on the film. The picture’s lead actress Naomi Cichanowicz, a freshman, also took home the award for best actor in a drama.
After their win, Burgos offered some heartfelt advice to Clemson film students.
“You don’t need to go to New York or LA or Atlanta. You can make good films in Clemson,” Bergman said. “And you don’t need fancy equipment. Use your heart. Follow your heart. That’s so cheesy; I don’t care,” she laughed.
Film Club President Savannah Gambrell, a senior management major, in one of her final acts in the role, created the Inscribe Legacy award and awarded it to Film Club founder Bennett Meares, with emotional speeches from each of them.
Performances throughout the show included a Bollywood fusion dance number by Clemson Dholna and an acoustic song by local musician Connor Chase.
Many Clemson Film Club and World Cinema alums returned to present awards, as well as faculty from various departments on campus.
Film Club offered special thanks to the world cinema and graphic communications departments for their help in making the festival possible.

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Sydney Olsen, TimeOut Editor
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