Film Short: Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s Award Winners Go Far
On March 16th Alice Mathias and Andy Landen, two graduate students from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, accepted the 2009-2010 Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker’s Award at ShoWest in Las Vegas for their short film entitled, “Message in a Bottle”. The duo received $10,000 and will have their film, which was about a romance born from a recycling project, featured in over 21,000 movie screens across the nation this fall as part of Coca-Cola’s pre-feature programming.
Prior to receiving this honor, however, the pair had begun collaborating on Far, a series of eight thematically and visually connected videos set to music from the indie rock band Filligar’s most recent album “Near or Far”. Three One Two Productions, a young partnership comprised of students or recent college graduated musicians, writers and filmmakers, released the eight music videos, which were written and directed by seven USC students and one graduate film student from DePaul in Chicago. Beginning on March 2nd, one music video was released every Tuesday for eight weeks via the band’s website and other online platforms including Facebook, MySpace, You Tube and the Filligar iPhone application. The last video debuted last week, prior to the new Filligar album scheduled to come out in June.
Alice, who served as Far’s producer, is the older sister of three brothers in Filligar and the best friend of another band member. She managed to solicit significant discounts and donations on 16mm film, a Bolex camera, a Sony EX3, a RED camera package and a number of bizarre costumes, getting the videos produced on a limited budget. Her goal in undertaking the project was to work and empower her friends, while developing her skills as a music and film producer. Everyone involved recruited classmates and friends from across the country to help edit, shoot, gaff and act in the videos. The final scene in The Willows features a bar full of USC Film students dressed as former US Presidents and the directors themselves also appeared in one another’s videos. Mathias commented that, “from a filmmakers’s standpoint, it was an unusual project because it involved a lot of directors collaborating on individual videos that connected to each other. The directors worked on one another’s films as cinematographers, production assistants and even actors.”
Alice’s fellow Coca-Cola winner, Andy Landen, directed one of the videos and acted as DP on two more. The other directors taking part were Giles Andrew, Brian Brown, Jeff Hersh, Pete Mignin, Joselito Seldera and Meredith Upchurch. All eight of them collaborated in developing their stories, which have been described as a wild series of interconnected short films aimed at featuring reoccurring images, themes, props and actors. Each component of Far appears stylistically distinct, yet somehow part of the whole.
Filligar, the acclaimed rock band that contributed their music to the project, encouraged the participants to create whatever they wanted with the films, without any revisions or requirements. Alice said that building the film project around the band gave her a great reason to hangout with and get to know different directors and writers she is interested in working with. Now that Far is completed, she is enthusiastically looking for new projects to pursue. At the top of the list would be producing a music video from the band’s upcoming album should the opportunity arise. In addition to these films, Alice has also done commercials and worked on post production for a few features.