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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Fall Studio 22 grantees shine spotlight on collaboration, female-driven stories

Mary Randolph/The Daily Northwestern
Finalists for Studio 22’s fall grants each pitched their films to the organization’s executive board and answered questions about different aspects of their projects. After the pitches, the board deliberated for over two hours, community engagement co-chair and Communication sophomore Mia Bassett said.

A nun, a stripper and two struggling actresses may not usually have many similarities. But this year, they share a common identity as protagonists in Studio 22’s fall grantee films.

Studio 22, a student-run production company, offered two grants this quarter to student-penned screenplays.

This quarter, Communication senior Mantra Radhakrishnan’s “Look Ma, I Made It” and Communication sophomore Maggie Munday Odom’s “Bad Habit” won the $5000 Bindley Grant and Max Saines Grant, respectively.

Studio 22 co-president and Communication senior Jackson Weber said he hopes the grants, as well as events like writers circles and speakers, will inspire film-interested students.

“I want to make sure that everyone who has an interest in film, or even a passing interest in the process of creating art, can take advantage of all the opportunities that are offered to them,” Weber said.

The Bindley and Max Saines grants are the largest two grants the organization offers. Studio 22 describes the Bindley as its “most ambitious grant,” according to Communication sophomore Mia Bassett, Studio 22’s community engagement co-chair. The Max Saines Grant is funded by Emily Saines (Communication ‘86) and Andrew Saines in honor of their son Max, who graduated from NU in 2013 and died in 2019.

The Max Saines Grant is the only grant to require a project to have a separate writer and director. The Saines family also flies the filmmakers to Hollywood to introduce them and their project to the film industry. Weber said the opportunities the grant provides set it apart.

“Having a separate writer and director allows people to collaborate more openly, get feedback more openly and see their work in a more objective light,” he said.

Odom’s film follows a nun and a stripper, both struggling with depression, as they “try out life in each other’s shoes and learn a lot about the world,” Odom said. She’s working with Studio 22 to find a director for the project and, as a theater major, said she’s looking forward to seeing her vision come to life in a new medium.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to take this story that is silly and also allegorical and put it on the screen … and to explore silhouettes and images in film that can’t exist on the stage,” Odom said.

Both Odom and Radhakrishnan initially wrote their scripts in “RTVF 260: Foundations of Screenwriting,” a class popular among non-majors.

Radhakrishnan’s film blurs the lines of reality as each scene between two young actresses, who have only been able to book commercials, slowly turns into a commercial. Radhakrishnan, also a theater major, said she wrote the screenplay casually last winter, inspired by her own experiences as an actor and is excited to “invest more in who these characters are and how their world functions.”

“I’m really interested in exploring the lack of agency and control when you’re a female actor,” Radhakrishnan said. “This is also in conversation with the feeling that art and artists’ work is more replaceable and less valuable as things like AI are innovating.”

Studio 22 received 19 grant applications this quarter, Weber said. Finalists for the Bindley Grant presented pitches for their films and fielded questions from the organization’s executive board before the committee made their decisions.

Weber said Odom’s script stood out to the committee because of “the humor and the message behind it.” Radhakrishnan had pitched “Look Ma, I Made It” before and returned with a revised version this fall, Weber said, adding that the committee “commended her dedication to the project.”

The films will premiere with other Studio 22 grantees — two to be announced in winter and spring — in June 2024. Over the next few weeks, Odom and Radhakrishnan will build their cast and crews before rehearsing and filming in the first half of Winter Quarter. Both said they look forward to the collaboration with their teams and with Studio 22.

“Within the collaborative ethos I hope to bring, I really want this to be a space where everyone feels like ‘This is my project, too,’” Radhakrishnan said.

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