Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism. Support independent student journalism.
The Dartmouth
June 17, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Student film festival showcases undergraduate productions

Each year, Spaulding Auditorium screens over 200 movies, ranging from Hollywood blockbusters like "Independence Day" to smaller, arthouse fare such as "Twelfth Night."

But every spring, Spaulding is also home to the films of Dartmouth students who have worked on film projects in Filmmaking I classes or gone on to do honors projects or independent studies.

This year's festival also gave a taste of what may come for Dartmouth's current seniors who pursue life in the film world -- Serguei Bassine '95 returned from New York University with a student film he made there, along with a recently completed documentary about a local farm.

But the bulk of the program consisted of the works of seniors, from Phil Lord's and Chris Miller's animated movies to three experiments in editing by Steiner Kierce.

Kierce, who is currently interviewing at firms in New York City that specialize in pre-production and post-production, said he never considered studying film until he got to Dartmouth.

"Basically, I came from an all-science high school," he said. But after taking a course in the film department during his freshman fall, he decided to go in that direction.

The three films by Kierce that played at this year's festival on May 29 included scenes from Canadian fishing documentaries and carnival movies set to soundtracks of modern music.

Kierce said the projects grew out of an idea to merge films with the art of collage. The film studies department acquired a box full of old Canadian movies, which Kierce said he eventually put together to create cinematic collages.

"I just sat down and watched every single one of these films," he said. Then he broke them down by frames and started reading up on film theory.

To complete the soundtracks for the films, he went all over campus, from Hallgarten Hall, the campus center for electro-acoustic recording, to the dorm room/recording studio of Drew Kevorkian '97, who composed the soundtrack for one of the films.

Kierce said he transferred the film to video and he and Kevorkian "just sat there and watched it 50 to 100 times." In the spring, Kierce reversed the process and edited a film to a pre-existing piece of music.

All this work in the editing room has given Kierce a good background and taught him how to "juxtapose images to create meaning," he said. This experience should be helpful while he tries to "break into the industry."

Kierce already has a foot in the door, though. He worked as a locator for the Tim Allen movie "Jungle 2 Jungle," securing locations for filming in New York City. "That basically solidified me going to New York" after graduation, Kierce said.

Different from many internships, Kierce said, "it was like a real job. I was the first one there in the morning and the last one to leave."

As for the long-term future, Kierce, who is a double major in film studies and studio art, said he hopes to work as an art director in the industry or even direct shorter works like commercials or music videos. "Even making [preview] trailers wouldn't be a bad deal," he said.

Even though he did not consider studying film until he came to Dartmouth, Kierce said he has always been interested movies -- he made video projects with a camcorder in high school whenever he got the chance.

His course of study at the College was a bit more regulated, although he still had a lot of freedom. The film studies professors helped steer him in the right direction and acted as "a stimulus for creativity." They were able to look at his work and tell him whose work he should look at for guidance.

Kierce is not the only senior filmmaker hoping to work in the industry. Lord and Miller will be taking their animation talents to California after graduation.

Both animators have multiple projects under their belts. Lord's "Man Bites Breakfast" follows his "Self Mambo," which appeared on the Cartoon Network, while Miller's "Sleazy Goes to France" is a sequel to a five-minute Sleazy the Wonder Squirrel cartoon in which Sleazy died and went to both heaven and hell. That film went to the International Animation Festival in Stuttgart, Germany last spring.

Lord and Miller shared an animation studio in Clement Hall, behind the Hood Museum, where they worked on their projects.

Other seniors who showed films at the festival were Brian Dalton '97 and J. Brooks Weaver '97.