SMP Season Brings Stress and Rewarding Lessons

It’s that time of the year again – the time when seniors working on St. Mary’s Projects begin to freak out. They have had most of the year to work on their projects, and now are faced with a month until they are expected to present said projects in finished form. There are several interesting SMPs in Art and Theatre, Film and Media Studies being worked on right now.

“Right now is about breakdown point for everyone,” said Kelsey Blackmon. Blackmon is doing a study on film noir that showcases gender issues and the effect of the male versus the female spectator. She said that while film noir is famous for its characters’ vices like drinking, smoking and gambling, the classic “femme fatale” character can be a vice as well. Blackmon was inspired by film noirs such as Double Indemnity and The Lady from Shanghai, as well as the recent “neo-noir” Brick. She will give a presentation of her SMP sometime in May.

Alex Vaughan is making a film about assassins. Actually, it’s “a 20 minute-long film that seems to be about assassins but is actually about action movies.” Filming has been going on since

February, and Vaughan plans to complete principal shooting by early April. Vaughan said that scheduling was the most stressful aspect of making the film a reality, but having a crew that “rolls with the punches” and remains enthusiastic about the project helps.

“A movie is always stressful; if it isn’t you aren’t doing it right.”

Vaughan’s father is also a filmmaker, and plays a role in his son’s film – so this isn’t anything new for Vaughan. “I enjoy working on movies a lot; they’ve always been a part of my life.”Vaughan’s plans on screening his film on April 23rd and 26th in Cole Cinema.

Another film being made as a St. Mary’s Project is a documentary about dumpster diving by Judy Sellner. Actually, Sellner is making two films – one documentary that puts a positive spin on dumpster diving, and another that puts a negative spin on dumpster diving. However, Sellner is using all the same footage for both films. Sellner said she wants to “highlight and foreground the manipulative nature of the documentary medium.” So it’s really a documentary on documentaries. In the making of the documentary, Sellner said that the most stressful part was scheduling so that she could have a crew to film whomever she was interviewing. But the experience was rewarding.

“I’ve gotten a lot better about talking to people in interview situations,” said Sellner. Sellner’s film will screen alongside Vaughan’s on the 23rd and 26th.

Some SMPs can take on a far more personal tone. YaHaddy Njie is telling her life story and exploring identity through a series of abstract pen and ink drawings.

“I don’t think that people have identities,” said Njie. “I don’t believe that anyone is the same at any time.”

Njie said that she was inspired by the Buddhist concept that people are empty on the inside, while at the same time filled with everything. “I feel like every day I wake up and put on this new mask.”

These are only some highlights of the many St. Mary’s Projects that are in the works right now. There will be these and far more SMPs to look forward to at the end of the semester – watch out for emails listing the schedule of presentations and exhibits.

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