Lights, Camera, Action! SUNY New Paltz’s very own student productions club, Hawk Studios, took over the auditorium in Coykendall Science Building (CSB) Thursday Dec. 7 to showcase a plethora of narrative films and documentaries directed by members and nonmembers.
The CSB lobby was completely transformed for the night of the event. The Eboard of the club created a red carpet photo-op, completed with a real red velvet rope. Students were excited, taking photos before the event , during small intermissions and after once awards were announced. Hawk Studios planned the event to every detail, even inviting Hugo the Hawk to be a guest appearance for the night and help judge the films. After guests got their photos taken, they were also invited to snack on some popcorn, the ultimate movie refreshment.
Typically, Hawk Studios likes to wrap up their semester with a smaller film screening of the work they’ve produced throughout the year amongst club members and friends, but this year Vice President, Sophia Singer, wanted to flip the script and do something a bit more memorable that would create a legacy for the club beyond their years. “I went to a performing arts high school in the city and I did film there. So at the end of the year, we always had a big film festival. And that was like one thing I missed doing at New Paltz because I think it’s just a great way to bring the community together and also bring filmmakers together to show their work,” Singer told The Oracle.
The energy was vibrating inside the auditorium. Quinn DiPalo, President of Hawk Studios, explained “My biggest accomplishment from the film festival is the numbers that we brought here today.” A lot of people were at the festival to see Gunkman’s debut, but everyone there was excited to support their friend or fellow filmmaker. The film festival showcased multiple short films with breaks between to allow students to refresh themselves and keep people excited for Gunkman, Hawk Studio’s longest production timed at about 22 minutes. Nia Doty, Ava Tokar and Miriam Webkinz explained that they were there because their friend was an actor in one of the films. “I thought it was really interesting. I didn’t think I was going to have anything like this to do at college, but it was a really good experience to see all the talent,” Tokar explained.
Val Turco, the Director for Center for Student Media, and Professor Megan Sperry attended the event and were also both judges for the film festival. “It’s good to watch the student work that’s not for my class.” explained Professor Sperry. “I’ve been teaching TV studio mostly this year. And so to see stuff that students I had for TV studio, who are now in field, or seminar, like, you know, further along the production track, creating stuff and seeing how creative they are, it’s great.” Turco was also extremely excited to see the numbers of students coming to support other students. “It was fun for me to sit in my office this afternoon and listen to people say, ‘you’re gonna be there tonight?’ ‘Are you going tonight?’ And I really think it bridged the gap between the major and you know, the Department of student media,” She said. Singer reached out to professors in the digital media productions department and faculty adjacent to judge the student’s so that awards could be fair and professional. The complete judging panel was Professor Sperry, Professor Hong, Professor Barry, Valerie Turco, Dan Stevens, and Hugo the Hawk!
The awards for the evening were Best Documentary, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Ensemble, Best Picture, and an Audience Favorite Awards. The Winners of Audience Favorite and Best Picture won gift cards to Best Buy. Documentary film Artifacts: Matt Horner swept multiple categories winning the supreme title of Best Picture, a $50 gift card to Best Buy as well as tying with Gunkman for Audience Favorite. Artifacts was a film created by students in the DMJ department, Emrys Ellis, Isaac Rostan, Mollie Zoldan, Jude Ferrara and Emma Boyle. “I’m really happy to have eyes on our film. It’s like, this is like the biggest audience that will have watched our doc at the same time. That’s really awesome and exciting to see our work and everyone else’s.” Zoldan told The Oracle. The film was a beautifully shot portrait piece highlighting a sculpture artist from upstate New York who emulates the organic shapes eroded into rock.
The first annual Hawk Studios Film Festival was an overall major success for the club, filmmakers and students who attended. An evening watching movies was a perfect way to unwind and destress from the upcoming finals week. If you couldn’t have made it out this year, mark your calendars for next year- you won’t want to miss it!