Cinema students hold film screening at drive-in theater

"VCUarts Cinema" is projected on a screen in a field at night

Doing the impossible is nothing new to VCUarts Cinema students, but this semester presented a unique filmmaking challenge: How to make wonderful student films safely during a pandemic?

These graduating artists stepped up with innovations based on limitations. They let nothing stop them from creating compelling stories, told with social distancing rules for cast and crew, and rigorous safety standards imposed on the use of equipment and locations.

The results included Investigation, a surrealist set-piece; Iroh, an immersive exploration of VR cinema; and, finally, a horror anthology of three linked eerie films, Brothers, Scarecrow, and Florence, set on a lonesome farm haunted by an uncanny presence in the woods.

Less talky, more purely visual, and strongly poetic films flourished with the help of program faculty and staff advisors on story development, technical aspects, and post-production. The difference this semester was increased student creative autonomy, with impressive results exceeding what the filmmakers might have thought possible when they started this process, after having faced and overcome the difficult outcome of having their summer 2020 Intensive Filmmaking Semester postponed by COVID-19 earlier in the year.

The films were screened in December at a small private showing under the stars at the Goochland Drive-In, with attendees observing social distancing guidelines. The screening was arranged by Cinema Program Coordinator Nikita Moyer, Student Producer Mackenzie Nolan, and Financial Specialist Koshie France, in celebration of these brilliant student filmmakers and their inspiring productions.

Story by J.M. Tyree, associate program director.