Student film is out of this world

A scene from “Formative Terran Project.” A scene from “Formative Terran Project.”


The assignment for the students in SCRN 209: craft a short science fiction film that is shot entirely on the Clark University campus and incorporates a number of artistic disciplines. The film must also be completed within 15 weeks on a micro-budget. Doable? No problem. Well, that's not entirely true. There were a few problems, but that was the point. The students in the advanced-level digital filmmaking course taught by Professor Stéphanie Larrieux overcame their share of obstacles to experience first-hand the rewarding, sometimes terrifying, process of making an original movie on a tight timeline. The result of their efforts was "Formative Terran Project," which debuted Dec. 8 in Razzo Hall. The 11-minute film, written, prepped, shot, and edited by the students, imagines a futuristic world complete with a robot who engages in hand-to-hand combat, a virtual reality voice with attitude (think of the film "Her") and a running theme about what truly constitutes a utopian society.

Cast and crew members gather on stage for a Q&A with Professor Stéphanie Larrieux. Cast and crew members gather on stage for a Q&A with Professor Stéphanie Larrieux.

After receiving a round of applause from the audience, the students involved with the film gathered on stage to discuss their collaboration, which resulted in creative breakthroughs, enduring friendships, and thoughtful problem-solving (for instance, how to compensate for the loss of two key team members from the project). "In a way it's harder to work with friends," acknowledged Skye Wingo '16. "If there's a problem, someone might not speak up because they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Once we got over that hump, we were able to work as a team." He added, "I would definitely make a movie with this crew again." Jaime Lara '16 said a highlight of the experience was how each team member brought a particular talent to the project. "Seeing everyone do what they're really good at, and enjoying what they're really good at, was an inspiration to me," he said. Professor Larrieux said she appreciated watching her student filmmakers "rise to all the challenges — because there were plenty of them."

Crew members on the set of 'Formative Terran Project.' Crew members on the set of 'Formative Terran Project.'

Most of the students expressed an interest in pursuing careers in various types of media after graduation. Carlos Deschamps '16, who directed "Formative Terran Project," said he has his sights set on film and television directing. Others spoke of careers in cinematography, sound editing and costuming. Noted Lara, "It's very rare that in a class you get to have a dry run for what you want to do with the rest of your life." Larrieux noted that "Formative Terran Project" came in on time and under budget, with her students donating the remaining funds to a Worcester charity.