Film festivals around the country are continuing to be affected by the coronavirus while also affecting many students and professors as well. This includes Wayne State College student Shelby Hagerdon and professor Dr. Mike White.
The BisonBison film festival, held in Ponca City, Oklahoma, is open to filmmakers in the areas of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas. It was livestreamed through the internet on April 3. Hagerdon’s film, The Offer, and Love Sick, produced by Kate Lundahl, were included in the submissions accepted.
“Bison is the most prestigious undergraduate film festival in the central states,” Hagerdon said. “It is a great opportunity for students as they look into the possibility of grad students and learn valuable networking skills. It’s also great for them to see their work understood and respected. While I would have loved to physically attend the festival, I am grateful they chose to livestream instead of cancelling the festival. A couple days before the announcement, I actually sent an email begging for them not to cancel.”
Dr. White said the festival is a great way for filmmakers to network and make connections for future endeavors.
“Eleven students were planning to go to Oklahoma City for the Bison,” White said. “The event has workshops, showing, and other events. It’s a great place to meet other filmmakers, make professional connections, and network for grad film programs. This is hard because it’s the first time our films have been finalists in a national festival, and I’ll be honest our chance of winning is very good.”
The Iowa Motion Picture Association is another awards show, held in Ottumwa, Iowa, that students from Wayne State College were up to participate in. The IMPA decided to postpone the awards until August, which students are grateful for, as it was originally scheduled for the same day as the Bison awards.
“The Iowa Motion Picture Association puts on an annual award show for the best films in Iowa,” Hagerdon said. “This is their biggest year yet and they were only able to show a handle of films at the actual event in August, but they are screening films every Sunday evening until the festival.”
Not only was the postponement a disappointment for the students, but also for Dr. White, as he is also up for an award at the IMPA.
“This was not only disappointing for the students, but for me personally,” White said. “My feature film Ever Fallen is up for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Actress for Shelby Hagerdon. I was very happy when they opted to delay versus postpone. One hundred twenty people, including many WSC students, worked on the project. They’re work [needed] recognized.”
Many students from WSC have been affected by the postponement or cancellation of the festivals. Missed opportunities and missed networking opportunities for their futures. As for continuing filmmaking, Shelby said she is still working.
“I am still on campus and I’m definitely still producing,” Hagerdon said. “In fact, we’re planning on producing some videos for the Holland Academic Success Center. So be on the lookout for those. I’m obviously a bit disappointed we were unable to finish the spring films, but I know we will be back at it again in the fall.”
Dr. White said that going online has also affected some of his film working classes, but he is trying his best to continue to offer students the most opportunities.
“It’s forced me to become really creative in development,” White said. “Fortunately, partners like Adobe and ARRI have made their products and training resources available to film students. We are still about to teach most of the skills we planned with the exception of having on-set experiences. However, we will be back on set in the fall and be able to give that to students then.”