Here at Deerfield, students are fortunate enough to watch their peers perform on stage, put their creativity on the canvas, and rock on under the bright lights at events like KFC. Such artistic occurrences happen on a consistent basis throughout the school year, always keeping the community entertained.
But there comes a special time in the spring where a particular arts program receives the spotlight: cinematography! With recent film showcases, Telluride Mountainfilm and the Widdies, taking place during the month of May, many are unaware of what goes on behind the making of each festival.
Science Teacher Eric Calhoun helps run the Telluride Mountainfilm festival here at Deerfield. The festival originated with a shared interest in environmental documentaries by Mr. Calhoun and Audrey McManemin ’17. McManemin and her family had a strong bond with Mountainfilm, and eventually brought the festival over to Deerfield.
When asked about his original hopes and intentions with Telluride, Mr. Calhoun responded, “Mountainfilm celebrates ‘indomitable spirit’ through film and I wanted to share that positive energy with the Deerfield community.” With two siblings working as environmental documentary filmmakers, Mr. Calhoun added, “I know how powerful the medium can be in terms of education and spreading a passion for the outdoors, [so] I wanted to help share that with Deerfield.”
Indeed, Telluride has accumulated great success at Deerfield, as countless students enjoy learning about the world around them through film. From a short film highlighting extraordinary skiing to a human interest story about ‘yoyo-ing’ in East Baltimore, Mr. Calhoun said, “I think Mountainfilm has helped connect Deerfield to communities and experiences that most of us have never experienced personally.”
Meanwhile, the Widdies, a longstanding film festival here at Deerfield, focuses on showcasing student-made videos for various purposes. Whether they are used to entertain, to teach, or to reflect, they are one of the most prominent showcases of cinematography on campus. It has become somewhat of a tradition at Deerfield to attend the Widdies every spring.
Videography Teacher Timothy Trelease, recalls the event taking place before he arrived at Deerfield.
“My understanding is that students would get together to screen videos in the small auditorium before I came to Deerfield 13 years ago, but the event was fairly lowkey,” he said.
He elaborated, “Once I started teaching Videography every term, interest grew and the quantity of quality work increased exponentially.”
With the diverse set of minds here at Deerfield, one never knows what they might see on the big screen at the Widdies. Mr. Trelease added, “I think there is something for everyone, with the range of genres covering everything from comedy and jump-scare to documentary and social commentary.”
When asked what differentiates videography from other art programs here at Deerfield, Mr. Trelease noted, “Like other disciplines within the visual and performing arts, Videography provides an outstanding opportunity for students to collaborate with each other. … As technology has become more sophisticated, affordable, and user friendly, the quality of the films and enjoyment of the process has been phenomenal.”
Nick Fluty ’20 said, “There was a lot of freedom in the filmmaking process. A lot of options on the table to choose from.”
James Whiteley ’20 reflected on last year’s Widdies by saying “It was very interesting and satisfying to see my work being shown in the big screen.”
Alex Weinman ’19, who has been producing a feature film of his own, was excited to share a teaser of his movie at the Widdies.
“I began making films at the start of freshman year, and took a videography class last year as a sophomore. This current film I am making is not for a particular class; I am doing it independently because I love it.”
After all, film festivals here at Deerfield give filmmakers, like Weinman, a chance to portray their true passions on screen to their peers.
It gives the viewers a fun and entertaining night, and as Mr. Trelease put it, “I would like to think that the Videography Showcase adds as much value to attract and engage prospective and current Deerfield students as any of the other outstanding events staged by the Visual and Performing Arts Department. “
“Telluride Mountainfilm celebrates ’indomitable spirit’.”
– Eric Calhoun