Student film gets big screen premiere


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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