Student Filmmakers are Finalists in Local Competition

May 11, 2011 – The first ever Eli Jaffe Film Competition will culminate May 15 at 1 p.m. at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck with a screening of the five projects that have been selected as finalists prior to the announcement of the winner. Film and video students at the five regional colleges were invited to submit projects that addressed public issues. Both narrative and documentary projects were reviewed by a team of judges including local filmmaker Lisa Krueger, screenwriter and Marist faculty member Josh Robbins and Upstate Films Assistant Director Becca Prahl.

The finalists are “Animus” by DCC students Laura Scharschu, Francesco Paolo Cordaro, Devin Pickering, John England and the COM 211 Team; “Only Embodied” by DCC students Robert Anderson, Natalie Hanson, Antonio Sorci and Brandon Reuter; “Haiti: The Power of Solidarity and Praxis” by Marist College student Matthew Wilk; “Fifteen is One” by Marist student Matthew O’Neill and “Nobody Else But Me” by SUNY New Paltz student Deanna DiBenedetto.

It was a great learning experience,” said “Only Embodied” co-director, DCC student Natalie Hanson. “Once we turned the camera on, we all got a confidence in our abilities and it no longer felt like a class project. We made mistakes, we learned from them, and that's what it's all about. Once I watched the final cut, all I could think was how excited I was for future projects.”

This semester, Steve Planck and Juan Garcia-Nunez, the Basic Video Production teachers, decided to divide that class into teams and have them collaborate on projects. When the instructors met in February to discuss this new teaching strategy, COM Program Chair Dana Dorrity had reservations, “The challenge in COM 110 Basic Video is that every student has to make a movie, it’s a huge task. If we allow them to team up, some students will come through the class as crew rather than writer/directors. But collaboration is a core competency in video production and in the end we decided that was more important.” The result is a project that has been selected as a finalist in this new competition. Screenwriter Robert Anderson says, "The feeling I had completing my COM 110 project was more gratifying than any essay I've ever written."

After spending a month on character development and script-writing, students in Camilo Rojas’ class used a program called Combustion to composite images. For their 11-minute film, the students created an extremely realistic operating room for a brain surgery scene.

“One the most important elements is to produce a good story,” said Rojas. “And the effects must be seamless; they should help tell the story without being very noticeable.”

The student producers will be at the screening to answer questions and explain their techniques for this visually complex film.

For more information, contact DCC Communications Program Chair Dana Dorrity at