OCFF 2020 – Dramatic Shorts (Block 1)
Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this review are solely those of Marlon Wallace and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of WBOC.
The 4th Annual Ocean City Film Festival, or OCFF 2020, had two separate blocks dedicated to dramatic short films. The first or “Block 1” had seven titles. What kicke off that block was a short film called Sea Salt by John P. Dunnigan, who actually shot his film in Ocean City and on its beaches, as opposed to the others, which were either made in the Baltimore area or overseas. I met Dunnigan (pictured above) on the first day of the festival, that Thursday, March 5. He and I arrived at the Ocean City Center for the Arts on 94th Street at the same time. We were both there to pick up our VIP badges.
He is a newbie when it comes to filmmaking. He’s also one of the oldest in the group. A lot of the filmmakers in the Dramatic Shorts blocks were mainly college-age directors. The only other exception is Joe Carabeo who directed the short film Break. Carabeo is perhaps in his late 30’s or early 40’s, as he’s been producing content for about 20 years and has even created his own media company called Astray Productions. Dunnigan though seemed older, but is fresher when it comes to producing content. During the Q&A after his film premiered on Friday, he talked about never having worked with actors before and earnestly had to figure it out.
During the Q&A, as he did when I first met him, he talked about having to film his movie on his iPhone. An audience member even asked about sound and audio issues. Dunnigan confessed to having some issues in that area and kicked himself for it. Yet, the way he talked about it and the way he commented on adapting his iPhone for more professional videography demonstrated a spark and passion inside of him that was very admirable and exciting for any person at any age, pursuing art and even pursuing filmmaking.
As mentioned, some of the films in Block 1 came from Europe, including a 2-minute short called The Reason by Anton Shtuka from the Ukraine. It was more an inspirational video than a dramatic film, but it was really superb and quite rousing. The other European entry was Leaving to Live by David Rodrigues. It was a French film about a woman trying to save herself and her daughter from an abusive spouse.
Of the two films in Block 1 that were from across the bay, both filmmakers attended the Q&A. The first that was shown was Fields of Our Home by Julian Martin-Poteet (pictured above with beard and long hair). He describes the film as two children facing “their father’s grief and his attempt to repress it. The father, Kurt, uses games and playfulness to hide his grief from his kids and himself. When these moments of surface-level happiness do not aid in healing the pain, the already struggling family must find a way to help them move on.” He talked about the origins of his film and how it was directing it. He reiterated at the Q&A his comments that he emailed to me prior to the screening.
Martin-Poteet said, “My film came out of a couple things. I was a camp counselor and would see kids with rough home lives have a desire to play and leave their troubles all behind. Then having to go back home at the end of the week. Back to that not so great home life. Then I came across the idea of hiding grief with playfulness and was really drawn to that. I also looked at the paintings of Andrew Wyeth while writing. His paintings have a texture and grittiness yet longing and loneliness to them that I wanted to emulate. We actually got to shoot down the road from his house where he painted some of his most famous works, such as Christina’s World.”
The other film in Block 1 from across the bay was White Noise by Lauren K. Scott. This film was also in part taken from the director’s real-life. Scott describes the film as “a short experimental narrative that focuses on the efforts of a young woman trying to purge the memory of a recent trauma. This film addresses themes of loss, pain and suffering, healing, subjectivity, and the incommunicable nature of internal thought and emotion.” She continued, “There still exists a stigma in society surrounding suicide, and more tragically, the victims of suicide and their families. With this film, I hope to be able to shed some light on the realities of life and death as they relate to the themes expressed in this film.”
Scott (pictured above) was a student at Stevenson University. She’s done work for MPT and her specialty is being a cinematographer. It was clear from that Friday audience, even from fellow filmmakers like Dunnigan that Scott’s film was one of the most outstanding. People really remarked about her camera-work and lighting. Despite the heavy subject matter like suicide, Scott really crafts some beautiful and striking images.
For more information about the Ocean City Film Festival, go to http://www.ocmdfilmfestival.com/.