LEVEL, a horror thriller that plays out a cat and mouse game between a man and a hellish beast lurking in the shadows, has played all over the world, at ten festivals and counting. It screened at this year’s Twin Cities Film Fest and Duluth Superior Film Festivals, as well as the EDU Film Festival, Horror Haus Film Festival, Midwest Sci-Fi Short Film Festival, Fear NYC Film Festival, Telluride Horror Show Film Festival, Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, and a Night of Horror Film Festival in Sydney, Australia.
The short was produced by the IPR’s Digital Video and Media Production Department as part of Hunt’s Field Production class. Its crew was comprised of a mix of professionals and IPR students. This an ongoing series of projects says Digital Video and Media Production Program Chair Trey Wodele. “We do one of these projects every term. One of the instructors acts as producer/director and the rest of us help out where we can. The pros donate their time and the students work side-by-side with future employers and gain real-world experience on a pro film shoot.”
So far, Wodele has been pleased with the product. “LEVEL is a tremendous short film, I’m not surprised that its doing so well. And, we’ve got another short, CTRL + ALT+ DEL, that’s just starting its run, another, Next Caller, is in post right now, and a third is in pre-production with Instructor Justin Staggs and his class.
DVMP Grad Owen Seaton was the gaffer on LEVEL, and at the time, was an IPR student in the DVMP AAS program. Now, he works for Cinequipt Inc. Seaton says, “I absolutely loved working on the film as a student, and seeing the success that LEVEL is gaining both locally and internationally, is super cool. I always strive to one-up myself on every project, so I think the one thing that really helped me is having a strong knowledge of the basics, and then building from there…”
Director Andrew Hunt can’t say enough about Enke’s work, “Ben is a rare breed of cinematographer. First he’s incredibly talented behind the camera. Second, his compositions and lighting is second to none. Third, he tolerates my “nut job” personality. And fourth is his kindness. During many camera setups, I would watch as Ben took the time to instruct the students around him on specific techniques we were applying to each and every shot. I don’t think Ben knew it at the time, but it was pretty obvious that he was going to make one hell of a teacher.”
The admiration is mutual, Enke says he benefits from the production partnership that he and Hunt have developed, “Andrew Hunt is a director who elevates everyone else’s work around him. Performances, cinematography, and post-production all step up a notch… several notches, from having someone like him steer the ship.”
The pair also collaborated on CTRL + ALT + DEL, along with a crew of IPR students. The short also screened at the Twin Cities Film Fest this year. Enke is complimentary of the student work on the production, “I’m constantly impressed by the level of professionalism these students show, and their work ethic is second to none. Not only do they come hungry to learn, but they come eager to impress, and it’s great to have a crew that’s so dedicated to their work.”
Hunt echoes this point, saying, “I never view my students as students when they are on the set. I treat them as working professionals and that’s exactly how they carry themselves every time we’re working. But the real thrill for me is to see these students take what they’ve learned on our professional shoots and then apply them to their own films.”
Watch for future releases of IPR student/professional collaborations. In the meantime, Halloween is the perfect time to watch and share LEVEL as it makes its web premiere.
Watch behind the scenes and interview footage from the making of LEVEL (working title, Reset).
Watch behind the scenes and interview footage from the making of Next Caller, IPR’s upcoming Pro/Student collaboration.