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Student film wins first place at Milwaukee Festival

November 13, 2008

The student film “Pushed Over,” produced by UW-River Falls students, won first place in the college narrative category at the Milwaukee Spotlight Student Film Festival held in early October.

The film is a comedy about a girl who gets a new job, but whose boss management skills are so cruel that they push her to the breaking point. According to film director Nathan Piotrowski, about 90 percent of the events in the film are based on real life experiences.  It is based on a story written by former UWRF student Holly Conwell, who was also producer during the film’s production, and stars UWRF students Beth Van Kampen and Dustin Koski.

The film is the end result of a special topics course offered last semester in the communication studies and arts department. The course, Feature Filmmaking, required that students form two groups and produce an original piece over 10 minutes in length.  The course was supervised by Evan Johnson, the former head of the digital film and television major.

Prior to being shown at the film festival, the movie premiered on campus last spring.  According to Piotrowski, the film had a great turnout from both faculty and students.

In order for the film to have been submitted to the festival, the film needed to be edited to comply with time constraints, which was done by UWRF student Ryan Brennan. After filing the appropriate form, the film crew waited for some time without hearing anything from the festival.

According to Piotrowski, the wait was disheartening to the group until they were contacted one month prior to the festival about qualifying. Everybody involved in the film, except the actors and Johnson, went to Milwaukee.

“If you want to pursue a career in film go for it. The department has a great program with great people,” Piotrowski said.

The production team had college support in this endeavor. Speech communication and arts Chair Robin Murray explained that both the department as well as the Dean’s Office gave their full support to help the students involved. 

The movie was produced in a professional manner with a significant amount of time devoted to preproduction. Before filming, the crew made storyboards, planned the schedule, looked for locations to film and other such activities. Filming took roughly a month to complete and was done in sessions that spanned several hours.

“Acting in the film was one of the best experiences in my life. I met some incredibly talented people and was able to be part of something fantastic. The process itself was also very educational because I have only ever acted onstage,” Van Kampen said.

Despite not winning the grand prize at the Festival, “Pushed Over” is going to be shown at a currently undisclosed film festival for winning in their category. The production crew also has plans to enter the film at similar festivals held in Madison and the Twin Cities and plans to get the movie shown on the campus television station in the future.

View a 30-second clip of the film here.