June 16, 2014

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Student-Faculty Project Wins Cinematography Award at BALD Shorts Film Festival

VALDOSTA — A short film produced by a faculty-student team during Valdosta State University’s second annual 48-Hour Film Festival in early March collected a coveted cinematography award at Georgia College and State University’s 2014 BALD Shorts Film Festival.

“The students were very excited about the achievement,” said Marie M. Elliott, head of the Mass Media Area in VSU’s Department of Communication Arts and assistant professor, “… they put a lot of hard work into making the film happen.”

On March 7, VSU’s Mass Media Area, in conjunction with the Film and Video Society, kicked off the university’s second annual 48-Hour Film Competition. Elliott and her team of students were given a prop, a character, a line of dialogue, and 48 hours to write, shoot, direct, and edit a four-to-seven-minute film at any location available to them, using the very limited resources at their disposal.

The end result was the award-winning four-minute, 55-second film “Blackbirds.” It was shot on location in Milledgeville at a coffee shop called Blackbird Coffee, which is owned by two of Elliott’s very good friends, Jimmy and Iona Holder. Elliott noted that the charming, real-life location was ideal for the script she had written and that she knew it would be more beneficial for her team to travel the 360-plus round-trip miles than to attempt to recreate the scene on or around the VSU campus.

“… it paid off in the end, and my students got the experience of shooting on location and winning an award,” she said.

Explaining the film’s concept, Elliott shared, “It is about two young baristas who fall in love at work. Although blackbirds have many symbolic meanings, I chose to focus on the allegorical representation of those who are tempted by the flesh.

“Since I already had an idea in mind, a simplistic plot about two people who fall in love at work, two coworkers who are in love even though it is frowned upon by their boss, it just made sense to call the film ‘Blackbirds.’”

“Blackbirds” won the Best BALD Shot Award at the 2014 BALD Shorts Film Festival.

Elliott is no stranger to the BALD Shorts Film Festival. In 2013, a short film she and a group of students created during VSU’s inaugural 48-Hour Film Festival was named an official selection for the Georgia College and State University event. That film was titled “The Weigh-In.”

“Next year,” she said, “I plan to enter a documentary I am working on that I started in Ireland during the Mass Media Area study abroad trip this past May, titled ‘Killer Sandwich.’ It features a Dublin food vendor who uses only social media to attract customers in a city where food trucks have to compete with local markets to sell their products. It is a really fascinating topic ….”

Elliott’s colleague, Frank Barnas, professor of mass media, shot all of the footage for “Killer Sandwich.” The duo is in the process of editing the film this summer. 

The BALD Shorts Film Festival, sponsored by the Bobcat chapter of Alpha Lambda Delta at Georgia College and State University, is designed to celebrate the artistic vision of the state’s students, faculty, and independent filmmakers.

Contact Marie M. Elliott at (229) 249-4876 or mmelliott@valdosta.edu for more information.

“Blackbirds” can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-q_XCY7F4M&list=UUGmr7LSHGXNqT_Ad71FiVQQ.

“The Weigh-In” can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDE2bTZUofE&feature=share&list=UUGmr7LSHGXNqT_Ad71FiVQQ.

On the Web:




• Producer and Director: Marie Elliott

• Cast: Maria Barber (coffee girl), Sam Wilson (coffee guy), and Marie Elliott (boss)

• Writer: Marie Elliott

• Script Supervisor: Eddie Zipperer

• Cinematography: Marie Elliott, Garrison Muelhausen, Josh Santana, and Amanda Tudor

• Editors: Marie Elliott and Garrison Muelhausen

• Color Correction and Titles: Garrison Muelhausen

• Assistant Director: Josh Santana

• Casting: Iona Holder

• Makeup Artist: Mary Cims Bennett

• Equipment Managers: Garrison Muelhausen and Amanda Tudor