HMAF highlights local, area filmmakers

September 1, 2018

HUNTINGTON — The Camelot Theater’s movie screen has mostly gathered dust since it went dark in January of 2006. But on Wednesday, the wild world of cinema flickered alive as the Huntington Music and Arts Festival or HMAF rolled in an evening of short, locally made films as part of its third annual 72-Hour Film Challenge.

A packed crowd gathered in the 4th Avenue Arts auditorium to celebrate the creative works of 21 teams who completed the challenge. Twenty-eight teams started the competition.

The number of films was up quite a bit from last year when 17 teams entered the challenge with 13 teams able to finish in time. To complete the challenge on Thursday, Aug. 23, every registered team got a random two-word prompt consisting of a verb and a noun. Their challenge was to make a five minute short film in any genre that someway relates to those words. The film had to be turned in by Sunday, Aug. 26.

Ian Nolte, who teaches at Marshall University, once again organized the HMAF Film Challenge. After the screening, he told the audience that all of the filmmakers should be applauded for their tremendous efforts in creating a film under extreme time constraints.

“This local filmmaking community which ranges from right where we’re standing and reaches down to Birmingham, Alabama, and over to Scott Depot a little bit, made a feature film’s worth of content in one weekend which I think is outstanding and amazing,” Nolte said.

Judging the contest for the second year, was Nolte’s colleague at Marshall, Walter Squire, director of the relatively new Film Studies at Marshall University.

Squire had an incredibly tough job as each film brought its own interesting qualities from J.J. Waters’ film completely made from stitched together GIFs and music, young Elliott Hughes’ third animation entry into an HMAF fest, Andrew Brown’s one-man (and crew) film, the bloody cooking themed short “Stew” by Joe Phipps and the wild 3D-filmed trippy music-fueled piece by Glass Diaper.

“Choosing winners was really

difficult, as all of tonight’s films were amazing, not even considering they had to be produced within 72 hours,” Squire said. “It so exciting to see how vibrant the greater Huntington-area filmmaking scene is.”

Squire handed out the three top prizes (which all won cash prizes funded by HMAF) to First place, Coseri, “The End of the Nighthawkes; Second place, Drew Navy, for “The Lift” and third place to Zoe Nichols, a high school junior, for “Fight Wheel.”

“When Nate Cesco won 1st place at the inaugural HMAF 72-hour film challenge in 2016 with “The River Dolphin,” I thought I would never see a finer and funnier mini mockumentary,” Squire said on stage. “Nate’s ‘The End of the Night-Hawkes’ bests that previous effort by quite a bit. I’m amazed by the writing, that the prompt words “bird” and “strike” could lead to such a wild and wickedly funny story. There are too many quotable lines to pick just one or two to repeat, and the fabulous script is supplemented by great visual details, not the least of which is Sneaky Pete resembling Hunter Thompson turned rogue bowler. Well done.”

Nate Cesco, who wrote the film with fellow stand-up comics, Cody Lambert and Nathan Thomas (who are also in the film), said the two words drew up a lot of different images but they landed hard on bowling after brainstorming other possibilities.

“We listed it all out and we said bowling early on but we went down like another 20 other rabbit holes and it got to be like 8 o’clock that night and we were like ‘Bowling,’ ” Cesco said of “The End of the Nighthawkes,” which is streaming live on their page now at https://www.facebook.com/CoseriTV/.

The Coseri team, which snagged a guest appearance by Tim Irr, a couple years ago for the film challenge, was able to get WSAZ sports anchor Keith Morehouse, to add his trademark color commentary about this “legendary bowlers.” Thomas said he simply tweeted out to Morehouse what they were doing, he jumped on board and came over and knocked it out.

Although Coseri has made a lot of other work, including a full TV show pilot, they said have found that they have developed a real knack for fleshing out mockumentaries.

“We have a sketch book of ideas and if you go through it probably 80 percent of the ideas are mockumentaries so we’re like let’s just do a mockumentary,” Cesco said. “And we really like it — it’s a lot of fun,” said Lambert.

The Coseri team said it is incredible to experience the film fest together with so many other creative filmmakers.

“In this film festival there are so many ridiculously talented people here — things like Josh Knight’s suicide film was just amazing and beautifully shot,” Cesco said. “There’s so much variety too, it’s cool to see. Before there was like maybe a 13 or 14 teams and now there’s almost 25.”

Drew Navy, who won last year’s HMAF 72-Hour Film Challenge, with a suspenseful film, “Loft,” was back in style, winning second place for “The Lift,” a clever sleight-of-hand heist film shot at Central on Main, the new restaurant in Barboursville.

“In addition to being a fun take on the heist genre, “The Lift” is immaculately edited and contains an infectious soundtrack,” Squire said. “In other words, Drew uses to great effect all of the major tools available to filmmakers.”

Shot and edited entirely on her iPhone, Zoe Nichols won third place for “Fight Wheel,” a wordless story about the passage of time that she wrote and directed.

“Shot and edited on an iPhone, “Fight Wheel” takes a wonderfully metaphoric approach to the prompt and is innovate in its telling a wordless story via a series of graphic matches and symbolic edits, quite a feat for a high school student,” Squire said.

To further encourage the effort that filmmakers have put out, Nolte handed out special certificates to each of the filmmaking crews for the special strengths they brought out in their films. He also gave them feedback on their films.


The festival awards, selected by Ian Nolte, went to each film for successfully completing the challenge:

• Hot Fusion for Wildest Film

• Visual Vindication for Creative Application of Prompt

• Coyote Boys for Original Storytelling

• Strange Weirdos for Weirdest Heart

• Kid Ketchup Productions for Cryptid Research Fellowship

• Dive Productions for Best Predicatment

• Andrew Brown for One-Man Crew Award

• Brainwrap for Best Ensemble Performance

• JJ Waters for Most GIFs

• Elliott Hughes for Best Animation

• Marshall University Film Club for Perservarent Spirit

• Drew Navy for Most Swagger

• Greene Knight Films for Evocative Imagery

• Zoe Nichols for Visual Storytelling Award

• Joe Phipps for Bloodiest Film

• The Mighty Schmucks for the Bobby and Patty Cormin Award

• The SixOhSix for Toughest Tough Guys award

• Cheap Skate Productions for Interesting Character Decision Award

• Ryan Murphy for Biggest Scares

• Glass Diaper for Best Music in Multiple Dimensions

• Coseri for Best Jokes

You can view all 21 of the submitted films at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9LjN_o4jILP6QfqVR452fo9o-dcg1ADg

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