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Student film gets big screen premiere PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Tuesday, 23 April 2013 12:04
On Thursday Bowling Green State University graduating senior Ethan Roberts will see his first film "Fish Tank" projected in high definition, and make a little bit of campus history.
The Thursday film showing at 8 p.m. will be the first student film shown in the Donnell Theatre in the Wolfe Center for the Arts,
Securing the venue to show his film took as long as producing it. Roberts knew as soon as he started preparing for his honors project that he wanted to project it in high definition. "I wanted the experience to be fuller for the audience and I thought the visual story I was trying to tell called for HD."
He'd heard that the Donnell had a HD digital projector so he "starting campaigning" to screen the film. Even a year out there were only two available dates. he said. "It was definitely a process."
Production on the film started in September. According to Roberts' summary: "Rowan, a shy 15-year-old, escapes into a secluded bedroom during a party. He is inadvertently joined by Andrew, a fellow classmate whom Rowan secretly harbors feelings for. Over a shared soda can of pilfered vodka, the two young men drift through moments of awkwardness and intimate conversation. Both a coming-of-age story and a cinematic meditation on social alienation, 'Fish Tank' reflects on the painful, silent oblivion that consumes teenagers who cannot submit to the high school status quo."
The admittedly dark film was inspired on his very first day of class at BGSU.
It was Monday in the first meeting of an honors section of Introduction of Sociology. "I learned about  personal alienation as punishment by society."
Those who "can't meet the standards of the status quo ... are punished by society."
That idea germinated in the back of his mind, so when he started a script writing class he drew on it as a theme.
Both characters feel alienated for different reasons. One by the expectations of different religious groups. "He feels like he can't meet these high expectations and when everyone else around him seems to meet them, he feels isolated."
The other character feels alienated because he doesn't fit the heterosexual norms of society.
Roberts says he wants his audience to realize these adolescents are isolated not because of what they done, or choices they've made, but "because of things society has imposed on them."
Filmmaking itself requires close work with others. "The biggest thing I learned is filmmaking is collaborative to the core." Even though he wrote, directed and edited the film, as well as doing publicity, he still relied on many others to realize his vision. That included two advisors Daniel Williams and Aimee Reid.
Roberts, who grew up in Bryan, was drawn to filmmaking because he's always loved storytelling as well as art. He was also interested in public service.
"I saw filmmaking as an amalgamation of those three things," he said. "I really want to tell stories that stick in the minds of audiences."
Filming, editing and projecting to the highest possible standards would best assure that happens, he said.
So he filmed "Fish Tank"  in super 16mm film. "We're taught in 16mm. We learn this delicate discipline then when we get into the real world our chances to shoot on film are decreasing," he said. So he wanted to take this opportunity to work in film.
He ended up shooting 5,000 feet of film for his 30-minute movie.
Once it was shot, and developed - shipped to a lab in Maryland that gave the best student discounts - he transferred it to digital to edit.
This might be, he said, the last time he gets to work in film.

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