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Summer 2009
Special Edition Vol. 1 of 5

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Lights, camera, action!

Messiah film students write, produce, direct, shoot, and edit an original 30-minute film

student filmmakers

courtesy of Ken Abbott '09

Ken Abbott (right) gives direction to the actors in his short film 'The Blind.'

By Ken Abbott '09

In February of 2008, Melissa Lutz and I, both juniors at the time, decided to embark on a journey of filmmaking. We wrote, produced, directed, and edited a 30-minute short movie, shot on the film department's Aaton A-Minima, a 16 mm sync sound camera that uses film instead of video. Shooting sync sound film, where the sound is recorded separately and synced up later, is challenging and to undertake a 30-minute film using this method was an ambitious student project.

Our project, "The Blind", is the story of the developing relationship between an optimistic blind man and his depressed social worker. It is a tale of discovery and redemption centered on the unique relationship between these two characters. Set principally in the city of Harrisburg, the lead actors were Sydney Allen of Lancaster and Messiah College's own Josh Lebo.

We spent nearly a whole year writing, securing locations, auditioning actors, raising money, scheduling shoots, and storyboarding every shot in the film.

When production finally began in March 2009, long days of shooting dominated every weekend. Our crew of film students— from first-year students to seniors— and dedicated actors trudged happily along with us. Production itself was one of the most testing times as we faced erratic weather, unforeseen location issues, and even problems with the lab where we had our film developed. Yet, we persevered. Most importantly, we learned so much more about the intricate details of filmmaking through these tribulations.

Why shoot on film when video is so much easier? There is something exhilarating about working with film: the tactile nature of the medium; the care and precision required to work with it; even the sound of it passing behind the camera's lens, with the knowledge that every individual frame is another small piece in the puzzle that is our movie, brings a sense of joy.

Film captures the world in a way that no other medium has yet achieved. Contrary to popular belief, almost everything Hollywood releases is shot on film. The opportunity to explore true filmmaking allowed us to take what we had learned in the classroom and apply it in a practical setting. Video is nice, but nothing can replace the look and feel of film— or the enormous amount of knowledge gained through working with it. Having recently moved out to Los Angeles to pursue careers in the entertainment industry, we feel as if our unique experience has prepared us for our future in ways that we can hardly even anticipate. It is our sincere hope that all our time and energy poured into production will add a new chapter to the Messiah College film department.


Author's note on future plans for the movie: We are working on a final cut and have hopes to enter it in a festival, but as our access to editing equipment is now more limited and also the unavailability of our cinematographer (he is getting married in August), this will not happen in the near future. Also, for the same reasons, the movie is not currently available for public viewing in any way.

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View the gallery of '"The Blind" production photographs


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