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The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV students debut collaborative short film

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GVL/ Sam Nelson

A short film created by Ravines Film Collective, a film production organization at Grand Valley State University, was released on the organization’s YouTube channel on Sept. 15.

The short film titled “Threshold  blends elements of science fiction and surrealism to bring the story to life. The work originated from GVSU film student Tanner Hamilton and his brother Tate Hamilton’s ideas, and the film draws from works like “The Matrix” and “Spirited Away.” 

The film follows the character of Ian Forsythe, an office clerk who helps customers “cross” into different realities or “thresholds.” Trouble begins when a mysterious figure with a dark cloak and reflective face starts pursuing Forsythe in the office and eventually into the woods. While in the woods, Forsythe discovers an eerie tunnel that alters his journey and leads him somewhere unexpected. 

The short film allowed the brothers and their friends to collaborate to make the story come to life visually.

“The point was to make something fun together with my friends and Tate,” said Tanner Hamilton. “Everyone brought their own personality and input to the project.”

Tanner Hamilton said that inspiration for his projects often comes from physical locations where he can see a story taking place. The idea for “Threshold” began when he sent Tate Hamilton a picture of a tunnel located in the woods at Provin Trails Park located in Grand Rapids, Mich. Tanner Hamilton asked him to write a script based on what he saw. As a result, the same tunnel and woods are featured in the short.

After weeks of discussing the script with his brother, Tanner Hamilton started to assemble his crew to begin the filming process during the Fourth of July weekend. He reached out to GVSU film student Hannah Dunaway to serve as the production designer– a position responsible for the film’s visuals. 

As the production designer, Dunaway was responsible for the art and creative visuals in the film, which included props, hair, makeup, costumes and special effects. When starting the project, Dunaway discussed the script with Tanner Hamilton scene-by-scene and looked for what they needed to be prepared for. 

“We had a pretty small budget, which is typically the case for these types of projects,” Dunaway said. “We (had) to find creative solutions to create the director’s vision.” 

One of the creative solutions Dunaway has to come up with is how to create the look for the entity that chases Forsythe. Dunaway said she acquired a used bridesmaid dress that she “flipped upside down” and made alterations to for the entity’s cloak. 

Joel Potrykus, an Assistant Professor of Film & Video Production at GVSU, said he tells his students that budget restraints should never dictate the scope of a film. He noted that filmmaking is about working around certain restrictions that come about during the creation process.

“Solving problems with your brain rather than your wallet is the most important thing an independent filmmaker can do,” Potrykus said. “Getting in the trenches and on set is what separates those who think they know how to make a movie (from) somebody who actually knows what they’re doing.”

Tanner Hamilton said he is waiting to hear back from 10 different film festivals that “Threshold” was submitted to, most of them being local festivals. Announcements regarding the festival runs for “Threshold” will come throughout the next year.

Potrykus also highlighted that film festivals provide incredible opportunities for GVSU film students to expose their work to an audience. The students in Potrykus’ FVP 321 and FVP 421– “Fiction Filmmaking” courses can debut their work at showcases that occur at the end of the fall and spring semesters. GVSU students are encouraged to attend these showcases at the Charles W. Loosemore Auditorium located on GVSU Pew Campus to support student filmmakers. 

Tanner Hamilton said that since the release of “Threshold,” support has been overwhelmingly positive. He hopes that GVSU student filmmakers can use “Threshold” as an example of what students can do when they try something new and use their creativity.  

“Grand Valley is a creative community,” Tanner Hamilton said. “If people are inspired by this (“Threshold”), then that’s incredible, but I also hope that people just have fun watching it.”

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About the Contributor
Dylan Hoffius, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Dylan Hoffius is the Lanthorn's Arts & Entertainment Editor for the Winter 2024 semester. He previously worked as an Arts & Entertainment staff writer during the Fall 2023 semester. Dylan is a senior at Grand Valley State University, majoring in journalism, broadcast, and digital media, with aspirations to critique film and write for a sports and pop-culture outlet after graduation. He loves to watch movies at the theater, play disc golf and cheer for Michigan-based sports teams, specifically the Lions and Pistons. Follow his Letterboxd account for unbiased movie reviews and rankings. Graduating Winter 2024 Major: Journalism, Broadcast, and Digital Media