For a week in July, five students from various Alabama high schools and two Troy University graphic design students came together to create a murder-mystery short film, titled “SHORTCUT,” during the annual Summer Spotlight Intensive hosted by the Department of Theatre and Dance. Less than a month later, “SHORTCUT” was chosen as an official selection to the Student World Impact Film Festival (SWIFF).
SWIFF is the premier student film festival that attracts submissions from 5,000+ aspiring filmmakers in over 100 countries each year.
“Working on ‘SHORTCUT’ was not only a fun experience, but I worked with people who have forever changed my life. Getting accepted into SWIFF is only the icing on the cake for me,” said Collin Hardin, actor and crew on the film.
Student Rory Stagner created the storyboards for the film and acted as both the first murder victim and the mom. Stagner has been part of multiple Summer Spotlight camps and said she gained a new appreciation for the work filmmakers put into their craft.
“It is crazy to me how our little murder film was able to make it this far,” she said. “So many people love ‘SHORTCUT,’ and it is wonderful to see that people enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it. I’m so happy that our hard work paid off, and I’m excited to see our film in the SWIFF festival!”
The intensive was held from July 17-23, and the young filmmakers worked together to write a script, create storyboards, plan a shot list, shoot scenes and edit footage. At the end of the week, their short film was featured in a showcase for family and friends.
“The opportunity to work with other like-minded artists is something indie filmmakers our age don’t get to experience,” said Brandon Underwood, actor and crew member. “Through this camp we got to experience that opportunity and see the awesome results of our work.”
The film camp is a new addition to the Summer Spotlight lineup and was hosted by Chris Stagl, design professor.
“This has been an amazing opportunity to work with students from all over the state, including two of our own design students, and see this project come together,” Stagl said. “I gave some general directions, thoughts and ideas they could try, but ultimately the students created this entire project on their own. They deserve every bit of the credit and kudos. I cannot believe they got their film into an international festival so quickly–it just goes to show the hard work they put in paid off!”
The film can be watched in its entirety on YouTube.