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Ole Miss cinema competition cont….

October 7, 2010

By Melanie Addington

Oxford Film Freak


This is part of an occasional series following the Ole Miss cinema competition. Last week was the first in the series explaining the ground rules for the competition and introducing new film professor Alan Arrivee.


Working as a team to create a film takes a certain level of trust and dedication. For these film students, moving towards the goal of winning $500 to help produce their short film to screen on campus in spring, the Ole Miss cinema competition is the first film experience for some and just another step towards a filmmaking career for others.

For Chetan Patel, who has teamed up with Britt Allen and Jordan Berger for his film, he is excited to collaborate.

“I look forward to working with my teammates.  Film can truly be the most collaborative creation one may ever come across,” Patel said.  “A great film happens when teammates are given the freedom to experiment and support to collaborate.  That is the way I approach it.”

Patel said he is not much of a movie goer but prefers to catch up on classic films using Netflix, often watching theatrical and then director’s cuts of films to understand the differences. Raised in Iuka, Miss, he was the son of two recent immigrants from India. He attended Mississippi School for Math and Science then dropped out of his undergraduate degree to instead pursue a medical degree. After completing, he has decided to finish his bachelor’s before jumping back into the medical field.

Patel’s group has proposed a dramatic short film that was inspired by LaffCo organizer Bruce Butler.

“It’s a film about an orphaned young woman who is already struggling with teenage anxiety,” Patel said. “Upon moving into her uncle’s home she is drugged and rape.  Unsure of the rapist and the father of her now fertilized egg, she stands at a crossroad and has to make a life changing choice.  A choice that no matter what will strip away her innocence.”

For Patel, if his film is selected, it will be his first film experience other than working with cameras during his time at Newswatch. Patel is preparing for his medical residency but is taking his time to enjoy film classes before moving into the rigor of 80-hour work weeks.

Britt Allen knew he wanted to help Patel if he is chosen but also threw his own film into the ring.

“Crocodile Tears is a short film about a pre-med student named Madelyn Close. She suffers from manic depression,” Allen said. “One day in class, she has an embarrassing breakdown; her first since she began dating her boyfriend of a month, Scott Sanders. Madelyn faces major questions that need answering, when all she wants is to keep everything to herself.”

As a sophomore, Allen had wanted to take film courses his freshmen year and couldn’t, but knew when seats opened up this year for film production and narrative techniques and screenwriting that it was time to start taking them.

“Now that Ole Miss has Alan on staff, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Allen said.

Wanting to be in the film business since he was a child, Allen knew that taking part in the competition can let him have access to resources that will help him begin to get more experience.

“Growing up, I had to spend most of my time writing screenplays and honing my storytelling skills because I never had the proper equipment, actors, crew, and budget to do any substantial filmmaking,” Allen said. “It’s such a technical and time-consuming process, I never had the heart to ask my friends and family to contribute hours upon hours of their time to take part in the short films that I had written. So, this competition is a chance to collaborate with other people who want to take the process seriously, and it provides a nice middle-ground in which I don’t feel like I’ll be blown out of the water by an opposing, more professional production, because we’re all working under the same constraints concerning budget, production value, etc.”

Allen said he found Patel’s short film proposal engaging and knew he wanted to take part on it.

“He and I have a very similar style, in terms of both storytelling and visual sensibility. When something just “clicks” like that, I can’t ignore it,” Allen said. “The fact that I’ll ultimately be pitting my own film proposal against his isn’t a bad thing. In the end, networking, building strong creative relationships, and gaining the hands-on experience that I’ve waited years and years for is more important to me than winning.”

Allen took part in his high school’s film club and worked on a short called “Prodigal” which won the State Superior and Judges Choice Awards at the Skills USA film production competition in Texas where he grew up. He also plans to film a music video this summer. As a self-proclaimed movie dork, Allen grew up having family movie night in the theaters each weekend and says his useless film knowledge often impresses friends and family who call them the movie critic.

Jordan Berger, who joined Patel’s group said he has always loved film and was heavily involved in high school.

“I came to Ole Miss looking to be a theater major with emphasis in film,” Berger said. “The film program, although beginning to significantly grow now, has not been very prevalent. Everything has been done as a branch off the theater department. I am very serious about a trying to pursue a career in film after college and therefore I am trying to take every film course available at this university. I am also interested in possibly attending further graduate film study.”

Berger said he has been wanting to make a short film for awhile now so the competition seemed like a natural fit. In high school Berger started his schools newsprogram and also made a 40-minute documentary, “Legacy” for his senior project. He also has worked commercially for his uncle’s sports recruiting website and entered a commercial contest for Ashley Home Furniture to which he received runner up and won $500 dollars.

“I love filming anything and everything, and tring to form some sort of story from it,” Berger said. “Today there are so many ways one can capture video and present it as a story, I’m interested to see the creativity of everyone. To me the competition also represents hope that Ole Miss is beginning to develop a film department, which is also very exciting.”

The Ole Miss Cinema Competition will announce the winning teams this fall with production planned for winter and the films to be screened this spring.



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