First impressions, they say, stay with you permanently. A small audience was reminded of this when they gathered on March 11 in the Film Studies Center of the University of Chicago’s Cobb Hall to attend Fire Escape Films’ Winter Screening of new student films. The evening featured six short premieres by both first-time filmmakers and old hands. One film was not shown due to technical difficulties–a reality of student filmmaking that makes it difficult for the club to cultivate a more professional reputation. Those on display ranged greatly in style and subject matter.
The tone of the screening was casual and relaxed as the eager young community of student filmmakers came together to examine their work on a big screen. The film that garnered the most response was fourth-year Jack Mayer’s “Artist,” a short about a young artist as he struggles through the realization that his work has been once more rejected. It was a theme with which many members of the film group could probably empathize, and there were some unsettling moments when the film hit a little too close to home.
For some members the club simply serves as a creative outlet, but others pursue filmmaking with the voracious appetite of those committed to making it in the industry. Perhaps this characteristic is responsible for the disparity of production values apparent in the films produced by the group; some are artfully shot on a prized HD camera, while others appear thrown together in a lo-fi whirlwind of reckless inspiration. Despite this discrepancy, it was clear that each audience member had come to the screening lured by the simple magic of movie making. As the lights dimmed and the screen flickered to life, the audience relaxed into the darkness as happily as they had their very first time.