Lights, camera, action! ASU MainStage showcase to feature capstone projects from 11 seniors

Friday's event will feature cinematography, editing reels, short films and documentaries produced by graduating students

Months of work are about to pay off for a group of Herberger students, who will premiere their capstone projects at a special showing at the end of the week. 

Eleven seniors will present their work Friday night at the MainStage Spring Senior Film Showcase, which will feature a mix of student-produced cinematography, editing reels, short films and documentaries.

Gene Ganssle, a lecturer in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, was the foreman of the jury that selected the pieces to be featured on Friday. He said this year's event includes works created by both film and media production and filmmaking practices majors.

“We want the showcase to represent the best of our film program and be a great representation of the kind of work that ASU students produce,” he said.

Ganssle said he enjoys attending the showcase every semester because it’s an opportunity for parents and friends to celebrate the students’ achievements.

“To have their films played at a large venue on a big screen and get applause, laughter and reactions to their work is one of the most rewarding things a filmmaker can have,” he said.

For the students, it represents not only the chance to impress an audience but to give them a behind-the-scenes look at the amount of work that goes into the media they consume every day.

Rebecca Wilson, a filmmaking practices senior, has worked with the Herberger Institute for four years to create motion graphics, some of which will be included in a reel as part of the showcase.

“It would be fantastic for the audience to see (my reel) and say, OK that’s what motion graphics are and … to see why they are important and why they bring projects to the next level,” Wilson said.

She described motion graphics as images with moving layers designed to make them more “engaging, captivating and aesthetically pleasing.” Wilson uses Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere and a 3D modeling program to animate text and pictures for commercials, films, websites and other media.

On Friday she will present a minute-and-a half-long reel with highlights of her work during her time at ASU. She said the reel is proof that her skills have developed over time.

“Looking through all the work, I noticed I definitely progressed — I could totally tell from my first graphic to the one I’m creating now, there’s definitely a difference and I can appreciate the growth in that,” Wilson said.

Amber Tufts, a senior double majoring in marketing and film, said her own presentation will represent not only a culmination of her work and growth but also a new way she aims to approach filmmaking.

“I’m really inspired by expressing emotion through imagery," Tufts said. "So a lot of my films are silent films that have an original score.” 

In the film she will present on Friday, titled “State of Grace,” she has taken that style and expanded it to include more structure and narrative.

“This project was a little bit of a departure for me in that area, but I think just trying to apply the same aesthetic and style I have in my work ... to more structured narrative pieces,” she said.

The end result was a culmination of a month of writing, two weekends of shooting film and three weeks of post-production for coloring, editing and adding the score, Tufts said. The music for her film was written by Ethan Revere Smith, who graduated from ASU last semester and has written orchestral film scores for over 50 student films.

Tufts said she was grateful for the ability to collaborate with so many other artists in the Herberger Institute.

“Overall the experience was really positive,” Tufts said. “I worked with a really talented group of crew and actors ... it’s definitely not a one-person thing at all. You definitely need to have good people around you, and I’m fortunate that I do.”

The MainStage Spring Senior Film Showcase will be held Friday, April 28 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Paul V. Galvin Playhouse, located in the Nelson Fine Arts Center. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased online here.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated in the photo caption that "Papergirl" was going to be featured in the festival. It is not one of the films featured. 


Reach the reporter at  skylar.mason@asu.edu or follow @skylarmason42 on Twitter.

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