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  Filmmakers discuss cautions of craft with Avila students  
  Kansas City, MO    
October 7, 2010

The words of five filmmakers – including two Avila University graduates – were filled with cautionary tales when speaking about their latest projects to a group of Avila students at a panel discussion Wednesday, Oct. 6, at Dallavis Center.

Each of the five filmmakers, plus panel moderator and Avila professor Ben Meade, had entries in the Kansas International Film Festival taking place this week in Overland Park, Kan. And, while making films that varied widely from murders in inner Kansas City, Mo. to living in a garbage dump in Guatemala, the message from all five seemed unified – making a movie is a lot of hard work and involves overcoming countless obstacles. But, in the end, it's all very much worth it.

"Everything was like a big obstacle," Avila grad David Matheny said of the making of his feature, My Step-Dad's a Freakin' Vampire! "Mentally preparing yourself for all the obstacles is most important, I think. There's just no way you can be ready for everything.

"Most of the time, you're freaking out in your head, but playing it cool so everyone thinks everything is fine."

Scott Moore shot his documentary, The Dump, which details the lives of 11,000 living and working inside a huge landfill, completely in Guatemala and said he had to adjust to the Guatemalan way of working.

"Not everything is shot on schedule," he said. "And, there are roosters everywhere, so there was always some sound coming in."

Mike B. Rollen, another Avila graduate, said the most difficult part of making his documentary, Kansas City Murder Factory, was whittling down 180 hours of footage into roughly 90 minutes.

You're always going to be left thinking there was something you could've done better, the filmmakers agreed, but at some point, you simply need to move on to the next project.

"I remember hearing how Steven Spielberg hated Jaws when he saw it, but loved E.T. with all the special effects," said Cassie Jaye, whose award-winning documentary, Daddy I Do, compares abstinence programs in schools with schools with comprehensive sex education programs. "You just have to let it go and move on."

Meade closed out his line of questioning by asking each filmmaker, 'If you could do it all over again, what's the one thing you would change?' Jaye said she try to get a bigger-name celebrity to comment in Daddy I Do. Rollen said he'd digitize footage as he shot it rather than do it all at the end. Moore said he'd take a smaller crew with him down to Guatemala.

But, it was Matheny who summed up the feelings of all the filmmakers with one short quip.

"I'd get more money," he said.


About Avila University
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.