Student film festival debuts Oct. 23


Ninety-two films were submitted to film festival coordinator Kayla Oldow. Fifty-two will be shown at this year’s festival on Oct. 23.

Blood, guts and teenage demonic possession are just a few of the things you can expect to see at the Webster University Film Festival. 

The Film Festival will feature 52 films created by students at the Webster campus. The festival was originally supposed to take place last spring, but COVID-19 put the show on hold. Finally, on Oct. 23, students like Joseph Vrenick will have a chance to display their work. 

Vrenick’s film co-directed by Chance Whitlach, “Double Bill (Blood Oaks/ Sex Demon),” is a take on the classic grindhouse genre. 

“[Grindhouse is] kind of a dead genre that’s also very polarizing because the films of that genre were extremely graphic, very sexual, not politically correct [and] sometimes grim,” Vrenick said. 

Students look at their camera behind-the-scenes as they film a movie for the upcoming festival. Photo contributed by Kira Thompson.

The story focuses on two young teens who have the goal to lose their virginity. Their journey to losing their innocence is halted when the boyfriend, Don, played by Kyle Cuddihee, is overtaken by a demonic presence. 

“The movie is a small 15-minute slice of a Grindhouse Theatre experience and it’s a movie heavily inspired by the films of Sam Raimi, specifically The Evil Dead trilogy,” Vrenick said.

He describes the process of creating this film as somewhat of a challenge. From finding a crew to developing a cast, there were a number of obstacles Vrenick faced along the way. 

“Arguably the biggest challenge was finding a crew that would be willing to work on a movie of this sort,” Vrenick said. “It’s not an easy sell for people and it’s understandable as to why people wouldn’t want to have their name on a project like that.”

Despite his worries, Vrenick’s film was nominated for three awards and ended up winning Most Shocking Indie Short and Best Big Bad. 

Horror is not the only thing you will find at the upcoming film festival. Over the span of three days, viewers will be able to view 52 films of varying genres. Webster students and community members alike are welcome to join in on the festival. 

On the festival site, films will be made available from Friday, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. to Sunday, Oct. 25 25 at 5 p.m.,” festival coordinator Kayla Oldow said. 

Oldow has been working alongside students Logan Jordan and Brandon Carroll, as well as faculty advisor Kyu Park. Together, the team has been working for months to produce a virtual festival that could put a fresh spin on the production compared to years prior. 

“So, in previous years, the Webster Film Festival went by a different name. It was called ‘Take 18’ or ‘Take 19’ depending on what year it was. We wanted to change the name to make it more apparent that Webster University students were involved,” Oldow said. “In previous years, there were about only 10 submissions, this year we got 92 submissions and we are going to be showing 52 of those films made by Webster University students.”

Not only will viewers see an array of student films, but they will also have the chance to attend a Q&A from a Webster Alum. On Oct. 24, Alvaro Aro, director of photography in Saint Louis, will be speaking and answering questions via Zoom from 11 a.m. to noon.

“I’m currently working on setting up a few more fun interactive things for the audience, but it’s simple,” Oldow said. “You can watch student films from the 23 to the 25 and engage with student creators as well as the larger community.”

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