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Calvin Students win award at Chicago Film Festival

This article discusses a Calvin student group that won an award at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival. It goes into detail about the making of the film and the process of getting it submitted.
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Read the Calvin News and Stories article that profiles this same student group

Student Collaboration Wins Best Student Film


"A Royal Pain" proved to be the opposite of its title when a Calvin student group took home an award at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival November 4.

A collaboration between media production, music and art majors, "A Royal Pain" won the award for Best Student Film at the comedy festival taking place at Chicago’s DePaul University. It was the 36th award won by a Calvin production group in the last four years.

Directed by recent Calvin grads Daniel Reinisch and Josh Kappers, "A Royal Pain" is a seven minute animated short about a dragon attempting to imprison a princess that keeps eluding him. The film’s animation, created by setting Calvin grad Elizabeth Steiner’s drawings to motion, was shepherded by Calvin grad Taylor Wogoman with help from senior Jeremy Li and Calvin grads Ben Vanderput and Steven Camp. Along with the animators, senior Logan Knoppers provided the film’s orchestral score. 

The group was rounded out by senior Vivi Oliveira, who produced the film. Oliveira worked to make sure the group stuck to their deadlines and schedules. Along with keeping track of the animators and overseeing recording sessions, Oliveira found time to give her team some nourishment. 

“Providing food was what everyone enjoyed the most,” Oliveira said. “We always had food.”

The film came to fruition after its director and head animator came up with the idea for the film. 

“Reinisch and Wogoman had the idea of making an animated film, and as the idea developed, they decided to recruit more people to help with the project,” Oliveira said. 

The group made the film’s animation using the Adobe After Effects software program. According to Oliveira, Wogoman taught the program to his fellow animators after learning it himself. As a result, the world of the film was brought to life. 

The group was also helped in the process by media production professor Brian Fuller. 

“The film was the result of a bottom-up initiative, wherein visionary students approached me and asked, ‘How do we get there from here?’” Fuller said.  

According to Fuller, the process of making an animated film is a tough and unforgiving task.

“The nature of animation requires that literally every pixel must be designed and approved by a rigorous group process,” Fuller explained. 

As the film’s advisor, Fuller was proud of the finished product and the group of friends that made it. 

“The real key to their success was that this group loved and respected each other,” Fuller said. “They truly are the best of friends.”

After the film was finished and presented at last year’s annual Student Showcase, "A Royal Pain" was submitted to film festivals—a process that is very important to Fuller.

“Submitting student work to festivals has been a priority since I came to Calvin eight years ago,” Fuller said. “It’s one thing to make movies your mother loves. It’s another thing entirely to competitively share films with a creative community and earn new lines on your resume.”

According to Fuller, Calvin’s student films are submitted to festivals with the aid of Without A Box, a site that helps to manage the films online. 

“We typically enter [the films] made in 200-and 300-level courses into perhaps three festivals each,” Fuller said. “The trick is to match the films with appreciative audiences and judges.”

The experience of taking part in a film festival was a positive one for Oliveira.

“The festival was really fun,” Oliveira said. “We made a lot of connections and it was very educational and encouraging to see other filmmakers doing great things.”

Coming out of the festival with the award for Best Student Film was an unexpected shock for Oliveira and her team and only added to the experience. 

“Winning the award was a surprise and an honor,” Oliveira said. “We were proud and thrilled to see our film on the big screen and being recognized.” 


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