Campus News

View Year

Juniata Film Students Create Award-Winning Film in 24 Hours

(Posted November 19, 2007)

John Huffstetter, a freshman, comes to a realization in the student film \'Robin\'s Cage.\'

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Making a movie in 24 hours using a bird cage as the film\'s pivotal plot point is not exactly optimum working conditions for the cinematic auteur, but a group of Juniata College digital media students did exactly that as a challenge for the 2007 Insomnia Film Festival, sponsored by Apple Inc., creating \"Robin\'s Cage.\" The hurried production was no obstacle to quality because the television network MTVU, which is a licensed closed-circuit music and entertainment network marketed to colleges and universities, chose \"Robin\'s Cage\" as \"Film of the Week\" for the week of Nov. 18-24 and will air on the network at noon on Friday, Nov. 23. Watch the film. The film, which stars John Huffstetler, a freshman from Bridgewater, Va., focuses on a pampered young man who is awakened to the possibilities of life, independence and freedom by a timely class on Buddhist teachings. He experiences an epiphany while purchasing a bottle of milk, and races home to perform an act of humanitarianism. The 3-minute film was made Oct. 13, when Apple\'s film festival published a list of 12 film elements. Entrants for the contest had to pick a minimum of three film elements for their project and write, cast, film and upload the movie to Apple\'s Web site within 24 hours. Juniata\'s film team was comprised of a four-person crew, including set designer and propmaster Scott Thomas, a junior from Johnstown, Pa.; cinematographer Neil Perrin, a junior from Huntingdon, Pa.; and co-directors Tim Auman, a junior, and Jigar Patel, a senior, both from Jonestown, Pa. The film has earned a spot as a quarterfinalist for MTVU\'s Best Filmmaker on Campus Award, which is awarded at the \"MTV Movie Awards,\" a nationally televised awards show. The film also will be in the running for best film at the Apple Insomnia Film Festival, which will name its award winners Nov. 20. The film also can be seen on the Apple Web site: http://edcommunity.apple.com/insomnia_fall07/item.php?itemID=1620. Each film will be evaluated by a panel of \"A\"-list film directors, including Nora Ephron (\"You\'ve Got Mail\"), Terry George (\"Hotel Rwanda\"), Mary Harron (\"The Notorious Bettie Page\"), James Mangold (\"Walk the Line\"), Mira Nair (\"The Namesake\"), Jim Sheridan (\"My Left Foot\"), Barry Sonnenfeld (\"Get Shorty\") and Luis Valdez (\"La Bamba\"). The Juniata filmmakers chose three elements in their movie: the character name Robin Darjeeling, the \"match cut\" film technique, and a bird-cage prop. \"One of the local businesses, Raystown Music and Aquarium, let us use a bird cage free of charge,\" says Thomas, who gathered most of the props. Most of the locations for the film were in Huntingdon, including use of Perrin\'s parents\' house. \"The scenes of John Huffstetler waking up were actually shot in the middle of the night, so the lighting we used to do that came out very well on film,\" says director Auman. In addition to actor Huffstetler, the cast includes Donald Braxton, professor of religion, who makes a cameo appearance as, well, a religion professor. Neil Perrin\'s mother performed a small role as a voice on an answering machine. The students operated on a shoestring budget, shooting the entire movie on digital video. \"I think the only thing we paid for was two half-gallons of milk,\" says Patel.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.