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Double Honor for Film '8 to 8' in Serling Fest

The film '8 to 8' is by Alec Simmons, student at Ithaca's Lehman Alternative Community School in Ithaca, NY. '8 to 8' is the recipient of the 'Best SciFi/Fantasy' award and the honor of 'Best in Show' for 2017.  Here is some feedback from the filmmaker.

What is your film about? A college student keeps noticing a mysterious tower on the outskirts of campus. When he tries to show his friends, the tower is nowhere to be found. But one friend approaches him later, having seen the tower as well. They plan to investigate.

How did you come up with the idea for your film? I made the film at a summer camp called the New York State Summer School of the Arts - Media Arts division. We had about 3 days to get from idea to finished script. At the time, I had just finished an essay film about towers/tall landmarks and my obsession with them. It didn't come out very well, so I was inspired to make something better out of the concept. I came up with a narrative idea that (hopefully) took the concept in an interesting direction.

Talk about your approach to the story and the technical elements you used. I've played with the concept of a thing that only one person can see for a while and I thought this would be a good opportunity to try it out. I wrote the characters to act like my friends there because they'd later be played by my friends there. Since the tower didn't actually exist on the campus, I carefully planned the framing and angles of the shots and then spent hours during post-production compositing pictures of towers into the shots. Deciding on which type of tower to use took a surprisingly long time, too. I eventually settled on Irish round towers.

Thank you for sharing your film with WSKG. How did you hear about the Festival? I've been a fan of the Twilight Zone for a long time, so when my dad showed me the post on WSKG about the Rod Serling festival, I had to check it out.

Which part of this filmmaking experience did you enjoy most? Since the pre-production was 3 straight days of struggling with ideas and revising scripts, and since the post-production was 2 straight days of nail biting and compositing towers, I'd say I enjoyed the actual shoots the most. I spent 4 days getting as many shots as I could, in the morning, afternoon and night. It was particularly enjoyable because my crew consisted of all my friends, who were surprisingly willing to help me. When I woke up with my friend Isaac at 5am to film the sunrise scene before we had to go to class, the sense of gratification that came from it was something I'd never felt before.

Is there anything else you'd like to add? I guess I could add that I probably wouldn't have been able to make this film if it weren't for the resources provided by NYSSSA. Not just the amazing location and the other young artists I worked with, but the creative freedom that they granted us helped me immensely. It encouraged me to try things I've never tried before. So thanks, NYSSSA.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb-eFRHaNhsAlec Simmons | Artist BioI've been making movies for about 8 years now, starting with a flip-phone camera. Since then, I've worked my way through camcorders and DSLRs, watched Youtube tutorials on post-production, and studied a lot of films to improve my craft however I can. I started working for a local award-winning documentary film company called PhotoSynthesis Productions in 2014, and they taught me a lot about documentary filmmaking. In the summer of 2016, I spent a month at the New York State Summer School of the Arts (where I made 8 to 8), and I learned about experimental film from experienced artists. Last summer, I went to the School of Creative and Performing Arts in Manhattan for 3 weeks and got lessons in film theory and production from industry professionals. I'm getting ready to apply to college now, and I hope to go to a great liberal arts college with a good film department.

The 2017 Rod Serling Film Festival will be held at the Art Mission and Theater on Sunday, October 8, 2017 at 3pm, in partnership with Binghamton Film Weekend.