September 26, 2016

Film Series features Webster alumna films

The Webster University Film Series hosted The Show Me State Filmmakers Showcase Screening at the Winifred Moore Auditorium on Thursday, featuring films by recent graduates of Webster’s film program.

Webster alumna Lacey Turner wrote and directed the first entries: Right Hand Man and Abhita. Both films took different approaches to the destructive nature of violence that pressures African-Americans. Abitha was Turner’s 2014 senior-overview piece at Webster.

Webster Film Series director James Harrison was originally approached by local film entrepreneur Steven Maurice about hosting a showcase at the auditorium.

“I get calls all the time about people wanting to do things and we’ve gotten to the point where there has to be some sort of Webster connection for us to work with,” Harrison said.

The showcase was designed to show a group of current work in order to get financing for future work. So the event, originally, was to be a private screening.

The screening on Thursday, however, was open-to-the-public.

Harrison said the filmmakers decided to open the event to take full advantage of the auditorium’s 240 seats. So rather than just invitees, the screening attracted Webster Film Series and St. Louis International Film Festival fans like Barry Shelton.

Shelton, 55, is an IT specialist at Boeing in St. Louis whose daughter is a Webster graduate alumna. His interest in the showcase was to see how film schools prepare their students for getting into the film “business.”

“When you’re in medical or law school, part of the curricula is about the logistics involved to get into a practice. I was wondering if that happens in film school,” Shelton said.

After Turner’s films, Alvaro Aro showed his senior-overview: Sophie.  Aro graduated in December and currently freelances as a director of photography.

“With Sophie, we were able to create a film where we wanted to show just what a passionate group people from St. Louis could bring,” Aro said.

Aro also has cinematographer credits in two other showcase films:  Turner’s Abhita and Maurice’s Dreamer.

Maurice began his study of filmmaking though acting and appeared in the others’ work in the showcase.

Dreamer: a vignette on the power of daydreaming, was Maurice’s fourth film for his production company, Top Dog Studios. The company produces family-oriented, faith-based films.

Next, Alessio Summerfield and James Reichmuth, executive producers and co-directors at St. Louis-based film and video production company Forever An Astronaut, debuted what will become a feature-length film. Based on St. Louis game developers the Coster brothers, the documentary arose out of the Dev-Diary, a web-series produced by their company.

Forever An Astronaut has recently completed a rebrand for Alive Magazine and also does short-form narratives and music videos, but the main focus of the company is film-based storytelling.

“No matter what we do, we want to keep pushing forward with fun stories and interesting characters,” Summerfield said.

The Q & A session following the screenings included questions from the audience and was moderated by KMOV’s Anthony Kiekow. The showcase was Kiekow’s second time on campus Thursday. He was interviewing for an election-year story earlier in the day.

“I see everything I can, but I’ve never actually done anything in film, I’m a TV reporter. But I love getting to hear these guys talk about it,” Kiekow said.

Each filmmaker emphasized their openness to collaborate with audience members on future projects. Michael Francis, a local writer-director-producer of reality-based nonfiction TV also participated in the panel.

Maurice announced casting auditions this week for his next production titled “Jack and Jill.”

Turner announced that his company, 4 Feet Off The Ground Productions, begins shooting this week on a six-part drama series titled The Lou. The episodic follows the lives of eight local friends during and after the events following the decision to not prosecute police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson in last year.

“I was able to get a lot of different points-of-view from people involved on different sides.I think The Lou will do this city some good,” Turner said.

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