Despite financial struggles, student film “Happy Holidays” gets approval for production
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Student film needs funding – Junior film student Sassy Mohen needs $15,000 for her film “Happy Holidays” By Erica Mobraaten Panther Staff Writer
Independent student film “Happy Holidays” has proven to be anything from happy for its crew. Under the direction of junior film production major Sassy Mohen, the feature began its filming Tuesday after more than a year of stress, equipment troubles and lack of funding.
The feature-length film was initially rejected by Joe Slowensky, the undergraduate chair of the film school, as being too ambitious – most senior thesis films are under half and hour in length, according to Mohen. Because of the need for adequate equipment to film the project, Mohen and her crew appealed Slowenski’s decision. After countless e-mails and a formal appeal, they finally received approval the last week of October.
“I can understand why they would be skeptical about giving us equipment. Every film student wants to make a feature,” Mohen said. “But we are not just a bunch of film kids just having fun. This is our career. We are serious about this.”
Written by Mohen, the film is about a young woman who grapples with limitations that she faces during college. Mohen first started writing the script in July 2005.
Many obstacles have prevented “Happy Holidays” from being produced, money being one of the problems, according to Mohen. The feature will need $20,000 and Mohen currently has only $5,000. The cost of a film can run between $5,000 and $35,000 depending on the specifics, according to Mohen and other film students. Despite financial troubles, she is determined to make this project happen.
“My crew and I are college students; we are used to taken the little we have and making the most, “Mohen said. “I don’t have a problem taking a risk because I am confident my crew can handle any obstacle thrown at them.”
Some students praise her ambition. Sophomore Dillon Morris, the director of photography as well as advertising coordinator for the film, believes that “Happy Holidays” has promise with online promotional advertising and more than $5,000 in donations from private corporations. “We haven’t gotten direct negative feedback, but some people don’t show support for it, “ he said.
However, Morris believes that the reason behind that is because people who initially expressed interest in the film don’t want to get their hopes up too high. "Sassy has definitely poured her heart and soul into this and she definitely wants to make it happen,” Morris said.
However, senior Alex Rodd feels that her efforts and certainty of the film’s success are unfeasible and unrealistic. “[She’s] asking people to devote a huge amount of time [to filming the movie] and these students are too inexperienced to know what they’re doing for a project that is too big at a student level, especially for people that haven’t previously done a bunch of short films,” Rodd said.
Members are expected to put about 30 hours of work a week into the production process. Mohen estimated that she puts in about 36 to 48 hours a week.
Sophomore Wesley Thayer, the assistant director, feels that the rumors against the film are unfair and judgmental. “Regardless of whether or not these judgments are valid, these people speak negatively with authority, but don’t know what they’re talking about because they are not involved,” Thayer said.
Production Manager Michele Kennedy, who oversees pre-production processes for student films, acknowledged that since the project is not class related, Mohen would need approval but Chapman would support the project. “Chapman’s extremely supportive of the ambitions of its students and we do have a system in place for students who wish to pursue this type of project,” she said.
Mohen is aware of the controversy of the film, but has high hopes that it will benefit Chapman in the future. The film’s release date is set for Thanksgiving 2007.
“I like the challenge. It’s like, why do you have to follow the rules if they’re meant to be broken?” she said. “I think that if you have the drive, anyone can do something like this.”