North Texas Daily

Shooting Short: new club delves into art of film

Shooting Short: new club delves into art of film

June 14
12:09 2013

Daniel Burgess/Staff Writer

They are poignant expressions, honest confessions, horror stories, memoirs, glimpses into fleeting but intense emotions stretched out over eight minutes.  They are short films, and anyone who has ever felt sad, scared, overjoyed, pensive or euphoric can share these human experiences with others if he or she only knew how to work a camera.

The Short Film Club at UNT is passionate about the medium and works to help people create art regardless of their inexperience or lack of equipment.

“It’s entertaining first and foremost and then it means something, second.  Last one’s optional,” club president Wesley Kirk said.

Kirk is a radio, television and film senior and founded the Short Film Club.  He started making films at 13 years old and runs his own film distribution company, Click Clack Short Films.  The club became an outlet for Kirk’s growing curiosity and lack of in-depth instruction in the classroom about producing short films.

Film production includes planning, filming, lighting, audio, post-production and editing. Kirk came to UNT with five like-minded friends who were also interested in film as a career after making movies together.

“I’m the last one still here because they all realized ‘I got better equipment, I got better contacts, I don’t need a degree to do this, I’m just going to start doing it,’” he said.

Instead of following his friends out the door, Kirk decided to fill the void and share what he knows about film making with other students.  He said he wants the club to be a resource for anyone interested in helping each other, sharing equipment and completing films.

Since its beginning, the Short Film Club has seen several of its members’ visions come to fruition.

Club treasurer Bryan Greene wrote and directed the film “Clay” which depicts a college student who succumbs to homicidal madness while studying in Willis Library. He said the inspiration came when he was sitting in the library, looked up and saw no one but his own reflection in the window.

“Leave it Alone” is a film by club member Erin Summerlin about coming to terms with being single and alone.

Kirk and other members focus on carefully crafting each video, to stray from bad production pitfalls and poor audio that can often plague other amateur filmmaking attempts.

When creating a film, its producers focus on making sharp, steady shots with good depth-of-field. Their use of audio and soundtracks must also be considered so the film looks and sounds like a cohesive product.

The result should be an artistic expression that induces a visceral experience in the viewer, a goal the club ultimately hopes to attain. Members want their films to feel deeply personal and allow the audience to connect with the characters.

The Short Film Club is based on a vision where those with the know-how help others make ideas into reality.

“I feel like a lot of newcomers – they come in with an idea in their head,” Vice President Jason Zhau said.  “They want to either improve on it or they want to get that idea into film and they don’t know how.  They expect us to help them with that.  That’s our new direction.”

Short films range in length from 40 seconds to 40 minutes, but can still tell an entire story full of emotion and offer several advantages to filmmakers.  Smaller budgets make projects possible, and the short length makes them more accessible to viewers.  But the process often involves trial and error.

“In film you have to fail many times till you get to where you want to be,” Zhao said.

Faculty advisor for the club Tony Mendez considers Kirk to be the leading authority on short films and called him a “social entrepreneur” whose main goal is to promote a common good.

“I’m hoping that in addition to film and media majors here at UNT, we’re going to attract other people to the club,” he said.  “Look forward to seeing either production or special events that show how short film producers can be entrepreneurial – stay tuned.”

Newcomers are welcome, but they must bring their own talent.

“You have to have an eye to begin with and then you can learn all the technical stuff,” Kirk said.  “But you can’t teach someone to see a beautiful shot.”

“Clay” by Bryan Greene

“Leave it Alone” by Erin Summerlin

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