Capital students take home a win at Oklahoma film festival

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Students Wesley Murray and Nate LaGuardia recently won Best of Student Film at the EyeCatcher Film Festival in Oklahoma, as well as the award for best audio from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for their film “Buzzing in the Garage.”

“’Buzzing in the Garage’ is a short film about Tom (Steve Hamm), a father whose daughter has recently gone off to college,” Murray, junior, said. “Facing an impending divorce and under a lot of stress from his dead-end job, Tom reaches out to his daughter for support.

“Our project is about growing old and understanding the complications that come with it,” LaGuardia, senior, said. “Students don’t often understand how their decisions affect their parents lives. It’s about understanding what type of impact students can have on their parents.”

According to Murray, the students ran into a lot of roadblocks during pre-production.

“We didn’t want to do the cheesy student film trope of having a grown adult played by a college sophomore, so we knew we needed adult actors,” Murray said.

They casted Amy Clark, who Murray had seen around Columbus, to play Tom’s wife, and she then put them in contact with Steve Hamm to come in and play the role of Tom.

“For the scene at the end … we needed some pretty dramatic smoke to set the atmosphere, but the fog machine we had was broken,” Murray said. “We ended up having three people hidden around the frame with vapes, just constantly puffing for like 30 seconds while Steve acted out the scene. It was one of those ‘we must look so freaking stupid right now, but the shot looks cool, so who cares’ moments. …We really had to roll with the punches.” 

Before working on “Buzzing in the Garage” together, Murray and LaGuardia barely knew each other, but sat next to each other in class and decided to work together for the project.

“Jim Higgins was the professor for our Advanced Video class, and the day we screened our project for the class, he pulled us aside afterwards and told us that with a little bit of tweaking, he thought we had a shot in some festivals around the country,” Murray said.

“I sat down and made some editing changes, and we asked my friend Jessi Bennett (who also did the location sound) to do some extensive foley work,” he said. “Victor Anstine also completely re-did the score.”

The competition at EyeCatcher was a mixed bag, according to Murray.

“Sometimes you’d watch a 90-minute feature and think ‘I just don’t get that one at all,’ even though that same feature could have been someone’s favorite of the screening,” he said.

There were plenty of other student-made short films at the festival, according to LaGuardia, and he noted that each film offered something for him and Murray to learn from.

“We were just happy to be at the festival; we didn’t expect to win,” he said.  

LaGuardia was the film’s writer, and he said that it all started as a dream. This was the first short film that he wrote from start to finish.

“I woke up in the middle of the night in a dead sweat,” LaGuardia said. “I grabbed my phone and wrote down everything that I remembered. It took over a year to make this film, from when I originally dreamt it and wrote it down, and another year to get it into the Eye Catcher Film festival.”

“Buzzing in the Garage” can be found by searching on Facebook, or on Vimeo.

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