Student films to premiere at the Majestic Theater

Aubreanna Miller, Editor-in-Chief

Gage Dawson, Joeseph Merkel and Emma Franco will premiere their student produced and directed films on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Majestic Theater. 

The free event will debut Dawson’s film “The King of Berry,” Merkel’s “It’s the Journey” and Franco’s “Girl.” 

Each film has had a team of countless students who have poured hours into filming, editing, audio work, acting, screenwriting and more. Mike White, associate professor of film, has also played a crucial part in the formation of these works. 

“The King of Berry,” named from WSC’s own Berry Hall, arose from a class project Dawson did as a freshman in a video production class, where he taught others how-to be “swaggy.” Now as a junior, the director worked with a fellow film student, Nathan Gusman to turn the short video into a comedy film.  

In this production, the main character, a student dressed in orange pants and an Albert Einstein tank top who Dawson describes as a “delusional a-hole,” becomes heartbroken after a girl turns him down. Through his troubles, he must face his actions and try to make some better decisions.  

Filming quickly became Dawson’s favorite part of the operation, as everyone had great chemistry which added to the fun and made the hard aspects of production worth it. 

“One of the things that definitely is hard about filmmaking is figuring out where to start with all of your footage,” Dawson said. “You just have to take it step by step until you’re finally building that product that you want.” 

It is not the destination, “It’s the Journey,” with Merkel’s film which follows two friends who decided to hike to the Grand Canyon. After walking for weeks, the pair decide to stop in a small town for a day, but trouble arises when they fall into relentless arguing.  

As a self-proclaimed “sound-guy,” Merkel enjoyed the rewarding feeling of editing sound to perfection. He also worked on the sound for both other films in the premiere.  

“I’m really excited to see how everything turned out,” Merkel said. “I’ve helped on a lot of films in my relatively short time in this program. With sound, if the sound is bad, people will notice and that’ll detract from [the film]. But good sound, no one should ever bring that up, because it should just be there.” 

Franco’s film came to her while listening to “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” by the Beatles. While singing along to the lyrics, she saw a dancing ballroom scene, sparking the concept of the movie.  

The 14-minute romance follows two college students, Austin and Jess, who have a whirlwind, once in a lifetime love story.  

Franco attributes most of the success and fun of the film to her producer, freshman Kaylee Harder, who brought eagerness and energy to every step of the operation.  

After a semester of work, Franco feels excited to showcase “Girl” at the premiere and take the film to festivals such as Bison Bison. 

The collaboration and community within the arts and humanities department makes all these projects come together successfully, Merkel said.  

“I think that’s the best part,” Merkel said. “There are so many workshops, and everyone is so busy, but people are still finding the time and are willing to put in the extra work even outside of the class because they really have a passion for it.”