Wex from Home: Mad Royal Film Society

Makayla Davis, Public and University Programs Intern

Apr 07, 2020

A young white boy in close-up lies in the grass next to a dandelion, staring directly into the camera, in a scene from the short film Blink of an Eye by Ohio State University student Maya Neyman

Established last year, the Mad Royal Film Society's student film festival celebrates the creative work of student filmmakers at The Ohio State University.

The Wex’s Makayla Davis caught up with the student organization’s president, Jeremy Schwochow (a third-year moving image production major), and vice president Emma Fisk (second-year arts management) to gain insight on the group’s operation and what audiences can expect from the festival. The festival screening scheduled for March 25 could not go on as planned, but two of the films from the program are available to stream below the Q&A. 

Makayla Davis is a third-year undergraduate student at Ohio State studying landscape architecture in the Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture with a minor in African American and African studies. Davis is involved on campus as an ambassador for the School of Architecture, the event coordinator for the school’s nationwide service group SERVitecture, and the secretary of Ohio State’s Student Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. She is also a Land Grant Opportunity Scholarship recipient.

What movie sparked your interest in filmmaking?

Emma: I definitely have very specific movies that I love that have made me realize more fully that it’s something I could pursue... like Lady Bird… I love movies like Black Swan and movies that are a little bit more intense and thriller stuff. A lot of it comes back to things that I would watch with my siblings. I remember watching Black Swan with my brother when I was really young... It was a bonding thing for us.

Jeremy: As a kid, I fell in love with Star Wars movies... Very recently, I started thinking I could make movies. I think a lot of it has been watching student films or getting involved in student films and being like, “Oh, I can make that!”

Emma: I agree that more of it came from student films and seeing people… execute things and... being like, “Oh, wait. If they can do it, then I can do it!”

Mad Royal works together as a group to create several films each school year. From the standpoint of someone who has never been involved in film production, how would one begin to understand the production process?

Emma: We kind of break it up into whatever you’re interested in. We have a screenwriting group. We have a group that specifically does storyboarding. We have production. We have editing. We have set design… We normally start out with the screenwriting group and we give them a few weeks to bang out a script, and then we pass it along to storyboarding and production and those people meet and decide…

Jeremy: Then we plan out all the shots and [it] goes [from there] into making sure we have all the equipment…

Emma: One of the biggest parts of Mad Royal [is that] it can be what you want it to be… If you can’t come to every single meeting, that’s okay… Your commitment can be what you want it to be.

How can someone who has never made a film before learn how to make a successful film?

Jeremy: Trying and failing. A lot.

Emma: Asking for help… If you see someone and you’re like, “I really like what they did,” don’t be afraid to reach out and ask them for advice or help or equipment or... hands on set.

What is the creative process for a group production like? Where does inspiration come from, and how do you decide as a group what to create?

Jeremy: We try to lay a foundation of... respect and tolerance.

Emma: And I think everybody… has to come into the semester film at least knowing that you’re gonna have to compromise. It’s not gonna be specifically your creative vision. I think everyone… does come in with that mentality of, like, everybody’s here to share ideas; everybody’s here to give input [and] it’s not just your thing… If you have a disagreement, you can talk about it…

Jeremy: It’s understanding [that] we’re all students; we’re all learning, so there [are] really no experts.

Emma: And there’s no one person who makes the final decision, ever. We don’t ever have a director… It’s collaborative the whole way.

What should audiences expect of the screenings? For instance, what sorts of films are produced and how high caliber are the productions?

Jeremy: I think a lot of students gravitate towards the narrative aspect of it, but I feel like there’s a lot of experimentation and ambitious thinking… That’s the fun thing about student film: because there’s no budget, there’s no one saying you have to do this, so it can be whatever [you want].

"I think a lot of students gravitate towards the narrative aspect of it, but I feel like there’s a lot of experimentation and ambitious thinking."
Mad Royal's Jeremy Schwochow

Since this is only the second annual film festival, what sparked the inspiration for a large-scale screening of student work? And how will this year’s festival be different from last year’s?

Jeremy: It’s like that… idea that student film can be just as important as other things, even though it’s amateur... It’s… the idea of getting the chance to see your thing that you put all your work into up on the big screen.

Emma: And it’s a great platform for the public... to be able to see student work, like what film students at Ohio State are doing.


Mad Royal Film Festival 2020 selections

Honked or (The Ballad of a Bird Born to Fly) by Luke Rohling

Luke is a first-year Marketing student at Ohio State and an integral part of the Mad Royal Film Society.


Blink of an Eye by Maya Neyman

Maya is a first-year at Ohio State studying Moving Image Productions and Spanish. She has always been passionate about storytelling and loves film’s unique ability to give a voice to those who are often silenced.


Lead image: from Blink of an Eye, courtesy of Mad Royal Film Society

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