Northwestern filmmakers win Best in Show

A filmmaking team from Northwestern College placed Best in Show at the eighth annual Prairie Grass Film Challenge at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Northwestern audiovisual technician Lem Maurer, assistant professor of theatre Drew Schmidt and senior computer information systems major Matthew Latchaw of Oskaloosa, Iowa, made up the winning team. “Lem saw a TV commercial for the event over Christmas break,” explains Schmidt. “He thumbed through their website, watched a few past videos and thought, ‘We could do that.’”

The rules stipulated that contestants had only 48 hours to write, shoot and edit together a short film for the contest. “On Thursday, we were given the genre ‘comedy,’ as well as a required character, line and prop,” says Schmidt. “We decided to go with an idea that stemmed from one of those 3 a.m. ‘what if’ conversations I had with a roommate in college. We wanted the film to center around feeling extremely awkward, and we eventually came up with the idea, ‘What if we wrote a play about a coat rack, but with pants on it?’”

Schmidt wrote the script on Thursday night. On Friday morning, Maurer and Latchaw constructed a shot list and gathered equipment. After rounding up a few actors, the film was shot Friday afternoon and edited by Latchaw later that night.

By Saturday morning, the film was fine-tuned. “We cleaned up the audio, tightened up the scenes, and added elements to help the story make sense,” says Schmidt. “It was quite a rush, but because we had made good choices from the outset, it was a comfortable pace. And it was fun!”

Their submission, “Pants Rack,” won overall Best in Show at the competition, which was accompanied by a cash prize of $250.

The contest drew interest from filmmakers across the United States, with teams as far away as California, Colorado and Missouri.

The film starred Northwestern sophomore religion major Lincoln Morris from Oskaloosa, Iowa, as a character who was preparing for a job interview. After noticing a coat rack in the office with four pairs of trousers hung from its spindles, he mistakenly assumes everyone in the office isn’t wearing any pants. Supporting actors in the film include Lyric Morris, a senior art/graphic design major from Oskaloosa, Iowa; Jana Latchaw, a junior theatre major from Oskaloosa, Iowa; Michael Stokes, director of Northwestern’s audiovisual department; and business instructor Brandon Woudstra.