By Lacey Colby and Kaitlin MacRae
Senior Niko Paleologus is no stranger to the Rider film scene. His film With a Little Help debuted in the BLC Theater last semester, and at this month’s Horror Film Symposium, Paleologus’ film Flag and Capture snatched first place at the event’s short film contest.
The seven film entries displayed great variety, with subgenres ranging from suspense to monster movies, but all were under five minutes long.
Flag and Capture, a carefully edited suspense film about the unlikely topic of a game, seems to be an exercise in minimalism and point of view. With no coherent dialogue — the characters only scream or moan in pain — it is an example of how less can be more, especially in creating suspense.
In its one minute and 46 seconds, the film features characters running away from an initially unseen enemy whose perspective the camera has assumed. It occasionally switches to the perspectives of the victims of the chase. The film freezes on certain images like overexposed photographs with eerie sound effects. At the end, it is revealed that the pursuers are just part of a game of Capture the Flag.
“I was asked to make a film about a suspense theme with a twist for my Advanced TV Production class,” Paleologus said. “When I heard ‘suspense,’ I thought of a thriller or horror film. I figured out that just by taking an innocent game, one could turn it into something scary just by filming it at different angles.”
Other competitors in the contest were juniors Jeff Andre, Kristyna Barbella, Michael Ferentino, Melanie Licata and Brian Long and freshman Raymond Strazdas.
An Honorable Mention went to Lush Part 2, a slasher film about “a deranged kid that likes killing people,” according to Andre, who wrote and directed the movie. A second Honorable Mention went to Long’s Camping Trip, a satirical film that reveals a gateway to hell in New Jersey, where youths attempt to summon the Jersey Devil.
Second place was a tie between two films. Barbella’s The Follower tells the story tells of a woman who is trailed by a truck driver on her way home from work. The other film, BIZzANAGE, created by Ferentino, is about an unorthodox romance that at times seems more like a music video than a horror film because of the lack of dialogue and heavy use of original music.
Also featured were two additional films, To Travel, a silent abstract film shot entirely in black and white, and And Then There were None…, a horror film about a monster that captures members of a family.
Each film began with a brief introduction by either its creator or Dr. Barry Janes, a professor of communication who helped run the event. They gave additional commentary and answered audience questions. Each film was met with applause and some questions from participants.
Paleologus was glad to compete in the event and is grateful for the recognition that he received.
“It felt very rewarding to win first place,” Paleologus said. “I work hard on every film I make, big or small, and sometimes I feel like I get thrown into the shuffle so it was very nice to be noticed for making a film.”
To view Paleologus’ films, visit his YouTube page by searching “piratecptjack64.”
Additional reporting by Jess Scanlon