Studio 22 grants bring on lights, camera, action

Rasmi Simhan

Imagine: A screenwriter who falls in love with one of his characters writes himself into his own film.

Studio 22, a board of 14 students that distributes funds from alumni donations and the School of Speech to student filmmakers, thought enough of the idea to grant the film, “Copywrite,” and two others more than $15,000 Thursday.

Writer/director Steph Green and producers Cindy Joung and Sarah Platt received the $5,000 New Filmmaker Grant for their comedy “Copywrite”; writer/director Christine McKeever and producer Douglas Crapo received the $7,500 Bindley Grant for their drama “Sofa-Size”; and writer/director Josh Spector and producer Jeff Harper received the Studio 22 Major Grant, which is between $3,000- $5,000, for their drama “Revolution.”

Although the grants pay for only a fraction of films that can cost more than $10,000, Studio 22 offers support throughout the production process. The group’s support and a premiere of the films help draw a broader audience than most collegiate projects.

Studio 22 heard petitions this week from the writers, directors and producers of nine films and selected three to receive funding. Students also can petition the board for minor grants Fall Quarter and for finishing grants in February.

Board members said they looked for compelling stories that offer learning opportunities for many students and can be produced within their budgets.

“Since 30 to 50 students get involved in each film, they shape a lot of students’ experience for the following year,” said Speech senior Alison Hartshorn, administrative chairwoman. “We want people that have a great film but also can manage and organize that large scale of a project.”

This year’s films share a dramatic flair, said Patrick Vukovich, screenings and seminar co-chairman.

“The characters in them could become very interesting and complex,” said Vukovich, a Speech junior. “It’s nice to see some things where actors will have a major part in making the film good as opposed to gimmicks.”

For Platt, the grant for “Copywrite” marks the beginning of working at concession stands, soliciting area businesses and asking family for donations to meet a $17,000 budget. While funds help, the grant means more than cash, she said.

“Studio 22 is such an important figure in filmmaking here on campus that its name carries a lot of weight,” said Platt, a Speech freshman. “It makes it easier when you’re asking for donations, and the support they give is tremendous.”

The grants allow students to produce bigger and better films than they might have had resources for otherwise, said Harper, a Speech junior.

“We would have made a film,” he said. “I don’t know if we would’ve made this film.”

Grant recipients are encouraged to finish their films before the Studio 22 premiere next June. But from hiring crews to fund raising to shooting and editing, producing a film in a year can make for a tight schedule.

“Everyone always talks about how they’re flunking classes and losing sleep right after getting a grant,” Harper said.

But the result is worth the effort, he said.

“Seeing everyone work together on something — all these different pieces come together and make something beautiful like a film that everyone can get something out of,” Harper said.