New class provides writing and film experience

A professor challenges his class to do something extraordinary before they graduate. His students make a bucket list and when one of their classmates dies, his friends decide to do the things on his list in his memory. That’s the plot of “David’s List” a short film being produced by Travis Bockenstedt’s communication arts May Term class. The film is student written, directed, filmed and edited. 

“We have a lot of students that want to do communications but not necessary do journalism,” Bockenstedt said. “I wanted to create an opportunity for students who wanted to do advanced production, and there’s a lot of students interested in short film.”

The class was able to secure funding for a DSLR cinema kit, which allows them to shoot the  film digitally. “We’re using a lot of tools we normally don’t use,” Bockenstedt said. “We’re doing a lot of advanced lighting and advanced sound.”

Bockenstedt said “David’s List” is a “dramedy” that will be entirely shot, produced and edited during May Term. All of the participants in the class are working behind the camera. The class put out a casting call and held auditions to find the actors by having them stand in front of cameras and reading lines.

Hollis Hanson-Pollock plays Ellie in the film. Ellie was David’s girlfriend before he died.

“I think she’s pretty complex emotionally because her boyfriend just died,” Hanson-Pollock said. “It’s interesting to see her develop throughout the film.”

Hanson-Pollock said she was involved in theater and speech in high school but hasn’t been involved in theater while in college.

“It was really fun to get the part and get to do some acting again,” she said.

The class wrote the script during the first week of May Term, did blocking last week and will shoot and edit the film this week.

“Writing turned into a five day, all day process,” Bockenstedt said. “We were writing as a group of screenwriters would for SNL.”

The film will premiere at the Palace in Waverly on Tuesday, May 22 at 5:30 p.m. Bockenstedt said the Palace has been a valuable community partner. Simon Sager, one of the students in the class, said the class is tailored to what he wants to do in his life.“It’s been awesome just to see Mr. Bockenstedt and all the others who have been the driving forces behind it put it all together,” Sager said.

Sager said the rigorous schedule of the class can be daunting but that it keeps, him and the other students in the class motivated. He said, “It lights a fire under us and keeps us motivated. The group writing has been really fun.”

Sager said the class has given him the opportunity to try things he’s never had the chance to do before. He said his favorite part was getting the opportunity to be a director. Bockenstedt said he’s hoping to have the class turned into a quarter or half credit class during winter term. The casting would all be done during winter term with all the production happening in May Term. “We want to make it a regular thing here,” Bockenstedt said.


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