Still from the short film, Circus Peanuts. Directed by John Farley. Actors: Gavin Martin (left), Thomas Rocha (right).

Film students dive head-first ‘Into The Deep’


by Carlina Grillo

Into The Deep, a student film-makers showcase, was put on by the Cal Poly Humboldt Art + Film department on Sept. 15 at the John Van Duzer theater. The showcase included a diverse collection of 19 creative short films. 

Since the fall of 2022, film students have been preparing to make the dive head-first ‘Into The Deep’ with their films for this showcase. Each student film-maker took an exclusive journey of self-discovery to create these one of a kind films, and that was made apparent by the depth in each and every film.

“‘Into the Deep’ is more than just a theme,” read the program handed out at the showcase. “It’s a guiding principle. It encourages us to venture beyond the surface and embrace the uncharted territories of storytelling,” 

With a total screen time of around 80 minutes, viewers were taken on a voyage down a deep, and at times dark, college-core rabbit hole. Bouncing between experimental films like ‘Momento Mori,” directed by Wren Kosinski, narratives like “Shrimp Film,” directed by Solomon Winter, and documentaries like “Camino,” directed by Nat Cruz, each piece was completely different from the one before. 

Film production professors Dr. Michelle Cartier and Dave Jannetta attended the event and expressed the joy they felt during the showcase. 

“This was the most solid showcase I’ve seen in a minute,” Cartier said. 

He recalled how big the event used to be pre-pandemic, and how good it felt to see a room full of people celebrating student film-makers. 

“We’re incredibly proud of the work they’re doing as artists,” Jannetta said. “I want students to make work they’re proud of.” 

Whether viewers were giggling at Humboldt public bathroom reviews, learning about fisheries and sustainable fishing practices, deep in thought from spoken word and interpretive movement, or questioning their sanity as the films became increasingly unhinged, this showcase proved that Cal Poly Humboldt students are filled to the brim with imagination and creativity.

John Farley, a film major in his fourth year, directed the three and a half minute film “Circus Peanuts. This was a memorable satire mafia film that played at the beginning of the show. The film involved local mobster clowns pushing circus peanuts, and a mafia boss dealing with a snitch in their peanut ring. 

“It was quite a rush to see something I worked on displayed on the big screen,” Farley said. “Sitting next to my crew who helped with the making of this, we were probably laughing the hardest.”

Farley ran into a bit of trouble behind the scenes. After a whole day of filming, the original footage for the film was deleted. What viewers saw at the showcase, was actually the second attempt.

“I felt so defeated, but luckily we were able to rally the troops to get another crack at it,” Farley said. “We got together the following week and shot the entire film in one day. It was fast paced, but an absolute blast getting what we needed to get between scenes and locations. When the actors can’t keep a straight face during a scene and end up breaking character, it is a reassuring feeling that what I’m making will turn out funny.”

At one point in the latter half of the night, it seemed like films began bleeding into one another and causing a sense of chaos that made viewers question their sense of time. This chaos was apparent as viewers would begin to give an applause just to realize the film wasn’t over. 

Eventually, realization struck the audience that these pieces were all a part of the larger puzzle: “Teen High School Movie: The Show: The Broadcast,” directed by Mara Lifquist. This film could be described as “Black Mirror” esque, and that is a compliment not to take lightly. This narrative film was around 14 minutes and contained satire commercials, frequent call backs and impressive horror effects. Between laughter and fear was a dissociation from reality that prompted a yearning to watch the film again.

At the end of the night, viewers left the John Van Duzer theater feeling inspired, touched and possibly disoriented.

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