One of the directors new to the Lander Film Festival this year is filmmaker Daljit Kalsi Jr., whose entry titled “Triggered” looks at gun violence.
According to a press release about the film, it offers a look inside the broken home of a crumbling American family, after a gun is found in a teenage girl’s backpack.
In the release, director Kalsi Jr. says the film has “an important message for anyone considering picking up a gun in anger.”
Kalsi Jr., 32, is a journalist with Fox Carolina in Greenville and said he enjoys filmmaking as a hobby.
“School shootings are happening right and left,” he said, noting part of developing his script for “Triggered” was asking the question, “What’s the thought process leading up to something like that happening?”
Part of the rules for Lander’s two-week short film competition is use of a required line of dialogue. The line Kalsi Jr. had to use was “Never here. We agreed, NEVER HERE.” by Paul Zybyszewski, a television writer/producer who has written for “Marvel’s Agents of Shield” “Hawaii Five-O” and “Lost.”
“That just seemed fitting for some type of confrontation about something that is not supposed to be,” Kalsi Jr. said, adding it worked well for his story framework.
“What we were going for in our teenage character is a message that a gun isn’t the right way to go,” Kalsi Jr. said. “I hope people are moved by it.”
No stranger to tackling tough topics, one of Kalsi Jr.’s earlier films, “Bound” — about human trafficking awareness — won best overall at the 2017 Tryon International Film Festival in North Carolina.
“I heard about the Lander two-week film contest from another filmmaker here in Greenville last summer,” Kalsi Jr. said. “It sounded like a little test I’d like to take. I wanted to see what kind of film we could make it two weeks.”
Most challenging, he said, was editing the script and film to the required competition length.
“We had a four-page script,” Kalsi Jr. said. “When we shot that and edited it as scripted, it was seven and a half minutes. I didn’t want to change anything, but shaving off two and a half minutes that I wanted in there was difficult.”
This is Lander’s 9th Annual Film Festival. Filmmakers of all ages and experience levels have entered.
They are competing for top honors in three divisions: open, college and young filmmakers (for entrants who are in high school or younger.)
Each participant is assigned a specific line of dialogue, written by a big-name Hollywood writer or director. Entrants have had two weeks to write, shoot and edit short films that use the lines they have been assigned.
Submitted films are to be between three and five minutes long, including credits.
Awards and screenings of competition entries are at 6:30 p.m. April 14 in Lander University’s Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center Auditorium. Admission is $5 for students and $10 general admission.
Also scheduled during the day of the festival:
– Screening of the 1945 film, “Leave Her to Heaven” at 10 a.m. April 14 in Carnell Learning Center room 200, with Lander professor Misty Jameson. Free admission, open to the public.
_ 2 p.m. with Matthew Lipton, a producer/lighting director, April 14 in Carnell Learning Center room 200. Lipton has worked in feature films, television and national commercial advertising campaigns. From Hollywood, California, Lipton now lives in Charleston. Note: this is a recent change to the afternoon schedule. Craig Titley is unable to be here due to changes in season finale shooting dates for Marvel’s Agents of Shield.
Additionally, like last year, the 33 films in this year’s competition will be shown after the festival, at dusk, April 17, at the 25 Auto Drive In Theater. Free admission. Concessions will be available.
Paul Crutcher, Lander broadcast and emerging media specialist, said it’s fun for writers, directors, film crews and friends to be able to watch their movies on a big screen, both during awards night and at the Greenwood drive-in theater.
“It takes a lot of work to get films done in two weeks,” Crutcher said. “Word is getting out about Lander’s film festival. Since we started this, we have had upwards of 125 films.”
This year, there are 25 first-time directors with entries.
Crutcher said filmmaking communities throughout South Carolina and parts of North Carolina are well-represented, along with other parts of the country.
“The open division is very competitive,” Crutcher said. “I’m glad I’m not a judge. Everybody is bringing skill to the table.”
Crutcher said the young filmmaker and college divisions are competitive, with a death scene in one youth entry that is “one for the ages” after a character eats a poisoned doughnut.
“It is laugh-out-loud very funny,” Crutcher added.
Crutcher said this is Lander’s “version of the Academy Awards.”
There’s even an entry by one of Lander’s athletic directors, highlighting Bearcat sports and a Lander art class has entered a film.
“This festival has also been a good student recruiting tool for Lander,” Crutcher said. “It’s a great way to build a partnership with students who have a leaning toward this type of work.”
Crutcher said classic film screenings during the festival have introduced him and others to a variety works.
“The one this year is one of the first Technicolor movies and you really see how they used color,” Crutcher said.
For the workshop with Craig Titley, Crutcher said attendees will learn about Titley’s writing process and how that translates to episodes he’s written for Marvel Agents of Shield.
“We think we will have a full house for that,” Crutcher said. “Get here early.”