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Students Experience Hands-on Filmmaking with the Pros

Anthony Collamati’s short film, ‘Base Camp,’ produced with a crew that included Alma College students, makes its world premiere at the notable Fantastic Fest film festival.

An opening scene from ‘Base Camp.'An opening scene from ‘Base Camp.'

Anthony CollamatiAnthony CollamatiA woman with social anxiety finds a mountain climber frozen to death on her lawn in the middle of summer in the Detroit suburbs.

That’s how the story begins in Base Camp, a narrative short film directed by Anthony Collamati and assisted by Alma College new media studies students. Fantastic Fest, recognized as the largest genre film festival in the United States, will present the film’s world premiere during its 15th annual festival in Austin, Texas, Sept. 19-26.

Fantastic Fest specializes in horror, fantasy, science-fiction and action movies from around the world. The festival champions challenging and thought-provoking cinema, celebrating new voices and supporting new filmmakers. Its pedigree includes world premieres of films like John Wick, Zombieland and There Will Be Blood.

Maggie ZouMaggie Zou“I’m honored and thrilled that Fantastic Fest has accepted Base Camp,” says Collamati, associate professor of new media studies at Alma College. “You put in so much time and effort to create a film, but it never feels like it’s finished until you find an audience.”

Watch the trailer.

Collamati served as the director of the 21-minute film. Colleague David Haynes, English instructor at Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities, was producer/writer. Alma College’s Stephany Slaughter, associate professor of Spanish and a documentary field producer, served as associate producer.

The film’s professional cast and crew were international in scope and included Nordisk Film Shortcut, a postproduction house based in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Australian sound designer Frank Lipson, whose movie credits are extensive and notable.

Tavyon Richardson, left.Tavyon Richardson, left.‘Enthusiasm, Energy, Effort’

Filming took place over five summer days in 2017. Collamati brought along then-Alma College students Zachary Baker, Zachary Bosley, Joe Harrison, Zachary Kribbet, Tavyon Richardson, Brianna Yaroch and Yuanyuan “Maggie” Zou to experience a live film set and assist as needed.

“Our set location was a strange old house in the middle of Pontiac,” says Collamati. “The set was like a ‘base camp’ for the cast and crew. And it was great to have students be a part of it.”

Richardson, a 2018 graduate, worked with the sound crew. Yaroch, a 2017 graduate, was a digital imaging technician. Baker, who graduated in 2018, served as second assistant director, while Zou, a 2017 graduate, was the wardrobe supervisor.

Zachary BakerZachary Baker“I try to integrate students with professionals in the industry,” says Collamati, who teaches filmmaking. “To put them on an actual set during filming is a hands-on experience I can’t match in the classroom. The students always come away with new enthusiasm and new skills.

“I don’t know how many other liberal arts schools do this, but special opportunities like this get at the heart of Alma’s mission,” he says. “We offered Alma students the chance to collaborate on a professional film set, but the students gave the film their own gift — their enthusiasm, energy and effort. I can’t thank them enough.”

Base Camp is Collamati’s second short film that involved Alma students. His first, Break My Bones, won “Best Thriller” at the Hollyshorts Film Festival in 2016 and “First Place in Cinematography” at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. Read more.

Story published on September 06, 2019