A Chaotic Film Festival Brings Order to The King’s College
Assisted reporting by Libby Winn and Liza Vandenboom,
This fall, The King's College's traded Interregnum’s annual 30-minute reading test for a 12-hour long film competition. The change has been met with both opposition and enthusiasm. On a Friday night at 6 p.m., the first Interregnum Film Festival began. In between brainstorming, scripting and filming; students had plenty something to say about the Film Festival.
A group of freshmen in the House of Queen Elizabeth I (QE1) looked with excited eyes to their Helmsman, Jennifer Ingrahm, as she entered classroom 633 accompanied by Olivia Stevers, the Houses’ Competition Associate.
After two hours of brainstorming, writing and rewriting, they had the script, the script of QE1’s video submission for the first ever Interregnum Film Festival. The prompt this year focused on the theme of Order and Chaos, challenging students to create a film that showed a life that balanced these two contrasting topics.
The House Scholar, Annabell Hutchinson looked about the classroom at her fellow Queens, ready for the new challenge they have before them. Addressing the room, Hutchinson thanked everyone for being there, then turned to the pair standing in front of the room. She thanked Ingrahm and Stevers for writing the script that will be the backbone of the house’s project and then sat down, making room for the scriptwriters to address the room.
Ingrahm pulled up the script, beginning to excitedly explain both her vision and the script to the room full of girls. She paused.
“This is the first film competition we’ve ever done as well, so there’s lots of grace.” With a kind smile and gentle voice, Ingrahm reminds the house that “We’re all figuring this out.”
Little did they know, they would be crowned champions by the end.
The mood is light but anxious eagerness rippled through the room. The script was ready, filming locations were selected, the film team gathered their coats and set out into the night.
When the film team returned at 11:59 p.m., the editing team took over, creating a film out of the content they captured.
The stage is set for a long night.
In years prior, the first Interregnum event was a graded reading test. This past weekend that changed. The test was replaced with a twelve-hour film festival, requiring all students at The King’s College to attend a lecture and mandatory film screening.
“We knew pretty early on that we wanted to get rid of the reading test this year.” Paul (Hank) Jeannel, The Interregnum Committee Chair said. The process of finding a new competition to replace the old test was a long one that began with the committee finding a way to best interact with the theme and readings.
“If you just read and regurgitate, how much are you exploring the theme” Zsuzsa Williford, the Interregnum Committee Vice-Chair, wondered. There were many problems with the reading test, Williford went on, explaining, “We found that people weren’t doing it in the right way. If everyone would have read the reading test that would have been great.”
Why a film festival? “We really wanted to bring the Interregnum of the spring into the fall while also centering the fall conversation on the readings,” Jeannel said. The film festival idea was one of the earliest event suggestion to replace the traditional reading test. Jeannel continued, “We kept thinking about it and talking about it that it was the strongest idea.”
The move to introduce a new competition and eliminate an old one was met with some initial apprehension and confusion from the student body. The thought of a school-wide all-nighter, the potential lack of involvement, and the loss of the benefits of the test were the forefront concerns of upperclassmen and executive team members.
“To be honest, the first time I heard it I was a little disappointed because I’m a scholar and I was looking forward to the reading test... Now that we’ve come so far I am excited,” scholar for the House of Thatcher, Cara Swain said.
She came to terms with the change as she came to realize what this interactive competition would do, which is allow “more people to participate and do what they’re good at. The reading test didn’t do that for everyone.”
For many students who are competing and are more creatively inclined, this event was exciting, incentivizing participants to do the reading. But, did those who simply went to the required events do the reading?
Junior in the House of Susan B. Anthony (SBA), Paris Weller reflecting on the Interregnum change, said some benefits are lost from no longer having the reading test. “More preparation individually goes into preparing for the reading competition, increasing the incentive for people to read.”
The Film Festival excited and validated creativity within the student body. Emmae Thomasson, a Junior in (SBA), explained that “having an outlet to create with legitimate incentives is a good way to bring in students who wouldn’t be given a platform for their art. [...] It feels stupid to do something creative without a reason, but when there’s a reason it’s really rewarding.”
Weller agreed, adding that this competition allows for “a creative outlook for students who want to help their house from a more visual arts perspective.”
In response to the pushback against the twelve-hour timeframe House of Susan B. Anthony senior and Communication Coordinator for The Interregnum Committee, Damaris Perry said, “Hopefully in the future, class can be canceled and we’d have that 24 hour period to do it.”
Elle Rogers, the Academic Coordinator for the Committee and Senior in the House of Margaret Thatcher, pointed out that “canceling classes wasn’t an option this year.”
Jackson Fordyce, a junior in the House of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as well as the Institutional Coordinator for the Committee, supported the current approach to the new competition. “The time crunch is a cool way to build a bond between people in the house. Housemates would reminisce, ‘Remember that one time we were running to get the train from Times Square to get to school by 11:59?’ Those memories will last longer than the reading test will. I think it embodies what The King’s College is and I think the prompts reflect that too.”
Another aspect of the limited time was that it takes the pressure off of executive team members to sacrifice too much time in preparation for the event and forces them to rely on the help and talents of people outside of their team. It cannot be completed by four people; it requires a network of involvement.
This network is present in the House of Winston Churchill, president of the house, Zach Wagner, noticed. “As far as I’m aware, I’m the only one on the exec team helping out with this. Which is totally fine. We have a lot of upperclassmen who have just picked up the baton.”
However, there were some concerns about whether this new competition requires everyone to prepare. Some can see how the new arrangement allows for some people to be completely uninvolved in the competition aspect without penalty.
“While there are fewer people involved, I think those people that are involved are definitely getting a lot more out of Interregnum than they were the first two years I was here,” Wagner said.
Daiya Malone, sophomore and Interregnum Liaison for the House of Clara Barton echoed this sentiment. “ I do think that at least for the participants involved with the making of the film and with the critiquing of the film, that they do have to have a pretty adequate understanding of the text assigned. Of course, I’m not sure if it can account for every single individual in the school.”
Brent Buterbaugh, freshman in the House of C.S. Lewis shared his thoughts on the Film Festival.
“I think that it’s going to be a good team bonding experience. I really like the direction our stories going in. I think we’re going to be able to turn out a pretty good product. I think that the 12-hour time frame is neat. One of the things that kind of irritates me a little bit as a filmmaker is that it forces us to use iPhones.”
On the topic of class divisions, senior and Interregnum Liaison for the House of C.S. Lewis, Jake Weronski, claims that though the freshmen and sophomores seem to be embracing the change and the juniors are onboard, “a lot the seniors are apathetic towards it, as seniors usually are about things at this point.”
By 6 a.m. on Saturday morning every house had submitted a video for the Film Festival. Later that day, each house submitted their own film critique of another houses’ film and the student body gathered on campus to watch the work of their housemates and classmates on the big screen.
At 8:45 p.m., QE1 received first place, accepting the prized Oscar-style trophy as the competition’s winners. The Houses of Sojourner Truth and Margaret Thatcher would take second and third place and collect their own trophies.
Popcorn littered the white linoleum floors, professors told jokes and people broke into a dance party. The upperclassman would recognize this energy from Interregnum in the spring and the underclassmen, on a high of house camaraderie and hard work, left school that night with a taste of what is to come.
Earlier in the competition on Friday night, before the films were complete and the committee could relax in the success of the event, a sense of chaos had fallen over the school.
Teams with iPhones and props ranging from cigarettes to dogs were scattered across the city. Some people stayed behind at school to keep hot coffee brewing and the energy level high. The House of Churchill paraded down the hallway, capturing a scene, then marched down the hallway when with frustration when it didn’t fit their vision. Fordyce started to walk back to the Interregnum Committee room but paused to take it all in.
“I think the vibe of the film festival is what Interregnum is all about,” Fordyce concluded.