April 30--CEDAR FALLS -- Minutes before the proverbial curtain went up, aspiring moviemakers Carrsan Morrissey, Luke Kreger and Tarrell Christie were trying to keep their nerves in check.
The three Cedar Falls High School juniors are responsible for all five short films shown at this year's Tiger Film Festival held Thursday in the school's auditorium.
Kreger and Christie collaborated on three of the films: "It Came From Planet Titan," "C.F. Noire: The Diamond Thief" and "Battle of the Big 'Uns: The Cosmic Invader," while Morrissey created "Horrible Things Part I" and "Horrible Things Part II."
"I'm a little nervous," Christie said. "I just hope they get it. Some of the stuff we do is a little cheesy. I hope they understand it."
"This is what I want to do for a career," he said.
"I'm nervous but very excited," Morrissey said.
Morrissey not only submitted films to the festival but is one of the event organizers.
"We would meet after school," he said. "We decided what we wanted this event to be."
Setting the stage for the event, students re-created the Hollywood sign in the lobby, as well as a concession stand offering popcorn and other treats to moviegoers.
The theme was carried into the auditorium with a red carpet, balloons and stars. Quotes from classic movies were projected onto the screen.
Emcees, dressed in their red carpet best, introduced each film.
As the lights went down, the first film appeared on the screen. "It Came From Planet Titan" depicts what happens when an infection takes over a research facility. Up next was "C.F. Noire: The Diamond Thief," a black-and-white crime drama based on films from the 1940s. Then came Morrissey's two-part "Horrible Things," a horror film revolving around a demon Morrissey calls the "perfect villain." The final film shown was "Battle of the Big 'Uns: The Cosmic Invader," a sequel to two movies Kreger and Christie submitted to last year's festival about alien gorillas.
The budding directors incorporated special effects, sound effects, even humor to tell their stories.
A panel of teachers chose winners in five categories, and audience members, voting by text messages, chose the viewers' choice winner.
After all the votes were counted, the awards were divided equally between the two camps. Kreger and Christie won for technical merit for "Battle of the Big 'Uns: The Cosmic Invader" and best direction and editing for "C.F. Noire: The Diamond Thief." Christie also won for best supporting performance for his portrayal of President Barack Obama in "Battle of the Big 'Uns." Josh Ochoa received the best performance award for his role as the demon Nazzrack in "Horrible Things," and Morrissey captured both the best film and viewers' choice awards.
"It was really, really cool," Ochoa said. "Looking up at the screen and seeing myself, I don't see that I do anything that special, but it was so cool to be able to work with my friends and have fun."
Social studies teacher Chad VanCleve was one of the faculty members who oversaw the event.
"Even with a lot of other school activities going on tonight, we still had about 100 people show up," he said. "The films were fantastic. They gave the people a real feel for their work.
"And I can't thank the kids who put this together enough, from the emcees to the people behind the scenes," he said.
(c)2013 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)
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