Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Film and Media Studies | Other Film and Media Studies
“Weight the Week”, is a feature-film endeavor, which became a short film, produced over my senior year at Syracuse University. The film is shot on Super 16mm film stock using an Aaton XTR-Prod professional film system. The film itself began as an introspective and interpersonal examination of an unnamed character’s weeklong journey while waiting for the results of an HIV blood test. The script was developed over the summer of 2007 and was of short feature length, approximately 55-65 pages, and starred an ensemble cast of ten. The production was slated to run for five weeks from October to November.
During the pre-production of the project, various funding sources were secured, an eager crew was harnessed, and professional equipment was rented from New York City. The production value of the piece was superb, but funding and other resources quickly dried up leaving the piece unfinished. Over the next few months various options were weighed with the final decision being made to use the footage available and create a structured story that still dealt with the issues in the original script. It is in this form that the piece exists now.
The challenges encountered during the production process were both numerous and cumbersome. Encountering these problems, solving them, and learning from them was an absolutely integral aspect of my entire capstone experience. Without these challenges I would not have been able to identify my own particular strengths and weaknesses. By identifying these elements I have been able to take my capstone project further through the academic process and use it to help prepare myself for professional endeavors.
Although my project is half of the length I had originally planned, the resulting piece is much stronger. I was able to focus my efforts on a smaller amount of footage and really refine the edits I had to pull together a piece that is both powerful and engaging. Having to virtually reconstruct a narrative through the scenes I had captured challenged me to find the important and necessary scripted moments and create a structural design for the film that most strongly conveys my intentions for the piece. The exercise in editing alone has certainly strengthened my critical eye for the process and hopefully will allow me to be more proactive and certain about shot structures and framing decisions as a director in the future.
This project has also introduced me to a tremendous amount of talented and dedicated individuals who have become trusted peers and treasured friends. These working friendships were always part of my design for “Weight the Week”. I intended to bring together the drama and film departments here at the university to create a collaborative project that will prove the benefits of their cooperation. The piece has indeed accomplished this and already has influenced other directors, actors, designers, etc. to seek each other out.
With the project in its final form (for now; as a film is never, EVER, finished), I leave the project with a newfound sense of accomplishment and reverence for everyone involved. My capstone project has certainly changed my life and has certainly touched other’s. No matter how many indicators of failure have been, and still are, present in this project, there is no doubt that “Weight the Week” is quite a successful accomplishment.
Campis, Dan, "Weight the Week" (2008). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 516.
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