Stories Growing Films, Dartmouth’s first film production club, was founded during Fall term of 2011 with the goal of making socially conscious films and bringing together students as well as community members.
“This club has been an idea of mine for the last couple of years,” Jonathan Sigworth ’12, co-founder and co-president, said. “Before I transferred to Dartmouth in 2009 from Wesleyan, I took a year off to make a short documentary about my spinal injury in India from 2006. I realized that I wanted to make more films that could have a significant impact on an audience.”
Stories Growing Films is comprised of about 25 active members, including an executive board, department heads in charge of a number of specific tasks in all stages of production and students who help execute these responsibilities.Courtesy of Amanda Granizo
“For our first production, we really wanted to see if this club was possible,” Alex Stockton ’15, co-president and co-founder, said. “Now we’re taking on a much bigger project to show that we believe in ourselves. We want to make a professional film and stretch what we can do as a group.”
This year the club is primarily working on a short film titled “Stickup Artist,” written by vice president Varun Bhuchar ’15, directed by Sigworth and produced by Stockton.
“This film is an action comedy, and it follows a young college graduate who’s decided on a career in the arts instead of a successful Wall Street job as he comes face-to-face with the realities of independent living and, in order to survive, resorts to robbery,” Sigworth said. “It’s basically about the value of pursuing your passions instead of just trying to be successful in life.”
“Stickup Artist” is a longer film than “Hey Tolu” and also involves live and computer-generated special effects, which the group hopes will attract more people.
“It’s a big production,” Stockton said. “It’s not easy to film primarily on weekends and only with students, but we do have a lot of people working on it. We don’t want this film to be seen simply as a production by college students; we want it to gain national recognition.”
The club chose to produce Bhuchar’s film at the end of the production term last year out of 10 submissions total.
“I was really humbled by this experience,” Bhuchar said. “It’s a little surreal; it didn’t hit me that it was happening until auditions when everyone was reading the words that I wrote.”
Currently, the club is in pre-production for this film, which involves everything from revising the script and casting actors to scouting locations and designing costumes. “Stickup Artist” will then be filmed during Winter term and Stories Growing Films will hold showings in the spring, according to Sigworth.Courtesy of Amanda Granizo
This year the group launched SNAPS (Super Neat Awesome Peachy Shorts), an additional way for crew members and students to get more involved in filmmaking. During this term, there will be public screenings of the two SNAPS created during pre-production.
“We have members pitch their ideas for a three minute short, and then students collaborate and shoot one of those ideas over the weekend,” Sigworth said. “It’s a great way for them to learn to use the equipment and how to work together.”
In addition, Dartmouth Alumni in Entertainment and Media (DAEMA), a group of Dartmouth alums in the entertainment industry, have reached out to Stories Growing Films this year to serve as an additional resource for the club and its members.
“They’ve asked the presidents of Stories Growing Films — Jonathan and I — to be liaisons with them, so we Skype into their meetings and let them know what we’ve been working on,” Stockton said. “We show them our work and get feedback on it. It’s also a good resource for people to get jobs and internships in the industry, which was one of our original goals as well.”
When it comes down to it, Stories Growing Films really hopes to reach a variety of different people across campus. As long as you have an interest in films and seeing what happens behind-the-scenes, this club wants to have you involved.
“We encourage anyone, regardless of experience, to come join,” Bhuchar said. “A lot of members don’t have any experience, so we teach them. We also try to involve a lot of different clubs in what we do; we want to be a group that makes movies and also involves the rest of campus as much as we can.”
Bhuchar is a member of The Dartmouth Staff.
Stories Growing Films meets on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. in Wilson 205.
Screenplays are accepted at any time, simply blitz them in to the club.
Tags: filmmaking, hey tolu, Jessica Zischke, stories growing films