Story by Michael Perez, Office of Public Affairs
USM's Department of Communication and Media Studies Academic Film Showcase 2019 featured a diverse body of student film work. The 100-minute presentation featured live studio interviews, narratives, dramas and documentaries which took turns gripping the audience.
The evening's opening segment featured work from the Introduction to Video Production course. "Cool Beans", a morning variety show directed by Michael Perez, interviewed Mary Allen Lindemann, co-founder of Portland community staple Coffee By Design. Hosts Halsey Redman and Connor Blake asked Lindemann about her career path, coffee, and CBD's role in the Portland community before grilling her in a rapid-fire Q & A called the "Espresso Round."
Black", a short visual story produced by Hunter Mahon, was born from the instruction to select a color and the selection of a soundtrack by Ken Nordine.
"Something is in the color black," Mahon said. The film takes the audience through an introspective account that is only contrasted by shades of white. "A couple is falling apart and you can see the guy reminiscing about the good times."
Without formal acting training or experience, Mahon was conspicuous throughout the showcase by appearing in several other films, displaying the talent that has garnered her a large social media following.
The audience hushed over Asher-Frances Close and Emily O'Neil's Meet Them Where They're At- A Short Documentary About Harm Reduction. The solemn film documented The Church of Safe injection and its founder Jesse Harvey. In it, Jesse describes the mission of the church and current legislation to legalize his practice of offering safe injection supplies.
"Jesse was a neighbor and I got to know him on a personal level," O'Neil said. "We were Facebook friends first when I found out about the church."
"We did some research and saw he was featured on Maine Public, and WGME did something, " Frances-Close said. The producers picked up on the story and travelled to Augusta for the hearings shown in the film.
Given the serious nature of the subject matter, "We certainly did not want to exploit anybody. We chose our words carefully," the producers agreed in reference to speaking with members of the church. Harvey "approved" of the film, and did not request significant changes to the production that made an emotional impact on those in attendance.
The final production shown was a documentary on local underground rapper C-Dot 416. The eponymously named film by Nate Moore and Ayden Carpenter opens at C-Dot 416's most recent release party before rewinding to the rapper's origins revealing the storyline that took him to the present.
How did C-Dot 416 become the subject of this documentary? "He came into Olive Garden with his family and I waited on them. We started talking and added each other on Snapchat," Moore said. "We keep in touch, and when we asked him to be in our project he was super for it."
In “C-Dot 416,” the rapper details his journey from native Scarborough, Maine to Toronto, Ontario, and back. Featuring select cuts from four hours worth of interviews, the film includes footage of C-Dot 416 working at a Scarborough studio.
Moore's experience as a filmmaker revealed itself in the estimated 60 hours of editing that took place for the film. Moore was also the Assistant Director for Cool Beans.
On the other hand, Carpenter was breaking out. "I'd been doing photography for about eight years before dabbling with video editing about three years ago," Carpenter explained. "CMS 460 Documentary Filmmaking was one of my first production classes."
With family and C-Dot 416 in attendance, the film served as the perfect closer for the evening by concluding with the often turbulent rise of C-Dot's music career.
David Pierson, executive producer of the documentaries, said "It's great to see student work." Referring to "Harm Reduction" and "C-Dot 416" he said, "Good documentaries are emotional experiences that engage the heart and mind."
When informed that interviews of producers for this writing were often conducted during the final editing and production stages and before the final products were published a week after the Showcase, Pierson responded: "That's a great attitude, always saying 'I can go back and work on this,' rather than 'Well, this is the best it's going to be.'"
from CMS 220 “Topics in Media Production I" (Kate Kaminski): Ian Beckett, Tony Cooper, Angie DuBois and Hunter Mahon.
from CMS 340/341 “Narrative Filmmaking” (David Pierson/Nat Ives): Ian Beckett, Paul Brown, Christian Cilley, Angie DuBois, Jacob Lamson, Nick McGoldrick, Emily O’Neill, Cherline Ouch.
from CMS 326 “Special Effects & Animation" (Geoffrey Leighton): Nina Caron, Asher Close, Millie Kidd, Michael Spaulding.
“C-Dot 416”: Ayden Carpenter, Nathaniel Moore, Cherry Lemonade, Jacob Lamson, Katie Letellier.
“Meet Them Where They're At - A Short Documentary About Harm Reduction”: Asher-Frances Close, Emily O'Neal.
“Special Collections: Uncovering Our History”: Stephen Bennet, Daniel Cassis.
“Daisies on Fire”: Stephen Bennet.
“Mindful Media": Colin Bechtel, Rory Ecker, Kam Greer, Jacqui Hallisey, Dorothy Harvey, Maverick Keegan, Alex Lemay, Lea Pillsbury, Audrey Pohl.
“Portland Heads”: Riley Dinsmore-Patch, Jacob Douglass, Pete Drennan, Stephen Duckett, Izzy Ferrell-Hodges, Steven Johnson, Lillian Lema, Jeffrey Melcher.
“Cool Beans”: Connor Blake, Andy Butsch, Megan Doak, Garret Doody, Bali LaGrua, Elizabeth McIntosh, Nate Moore, Halsey Redman, Michael Perez, Aira Setimo, Sarah Vandermeer, Emma Walsh