Smile Politely

Moving pictures

This past Saturday at the Virginia Theater, filmmakers and film lovers came together to celebrate the ecstatic product of a lot of hard work and big dreams.

As you may (and should) already know, the CU Film Society has undertaken — with the help of a lot of local actors, artists, and technicians from the Champaign Movie Makers organization — to make the dreams of aspiring young writers come true. From the 150 scripts submitted by local students in grades K-12, 22 were chosen and filmed. The ideas contained in these scripts ranged from the broad to the heartbreaking, from simplistic to undeniably complex, from magic to zombies to children coping with loss.

Per the tradition established last year, the filmmaking experience culminated in a Red Carpet Gala on August 9, with a staggered set of film premieres. The first block of films, written by students K-7, was the “suitable for all ages” block, while the second set of films, written by students in grades 8-12, included a few moments requiring more mature audiences. Each block of films received its own red carpet walk, and a collection of 60 movie posters — based on the filmed scripts and nearly 40 other submitted works — also had a display courtesy of CUDO (the Champaign-Urbana Design Organization).

The films, as well as their screenwriters, casts, and crews, are as follows:


The Adventures of Mr. Pancake

Written by Ayan Ehsan, Zander Hackman, Olivia Havard, Nolan Lawson; Director: Andrew Nygard; Cast: Mike Trippiedi, Bill Kephart, Quinn Fisher; Crew: Michael Bach, Andrew Stengele, Emily Jahn, Thomas Polk, Molly Cooper, Leighann Calentine.

A Visit from the Tooth Fairy

Written by Adrian Blume; Director: Robin Berthier; Cast: Rowan Fisher, Emma Loewenstein, Wyatt Taber, Cara Maurizi, Adrian Blume; Crew: Sam Gingher, Hugo Berthier, Lucas Miller, Judy Chiu, Se Hye Kim, Eliana Rosales, Christen Mercier, Nick Mercier, Toni Schindler, Ray Pingree.

Who Babysits Zombies?

Written by Dalton Carmien, Eric Miebach, Kalani Rentschler, and Audrey Young; Director: Chris Lukeman; Cast: Matt Shivers, Laura Welle, Chris Lukeman, and Matt Fear; Crew: Becky Griesheimer, Matt Shivers, Anne Lukeman.

The Taming of the Beast

Written by Braylen Chaney, Griffin Goddard, Nina Martinez, and Jasmine Yancy; Director: Michael Bach; Voice Talent: Matt Shivers, Eric Sizemore, Michael Bach.

The Sorceress

Written by Madeline De Coste; Director: Emily Jahn; Cast: Thomas Polk, Sara Jahn, and Hannah Niccum; Crew: Yuta Nakamura, Earn Saenmuk, Julia Polk, Sara Jahn, Jane Jahn, Jessica Staire.

Below: Hannah Niccum and Thomas Polk in a scene from The Sorceress. Photo credit: Earn Saenmuk.

Double-O Kevin

Written by David Cerezo; Directors: Joe Taylor and William L. Kephart; Title Animation by Dan Drake.

Guys Go Green

Written by Benjamin and Claire Keating; Director: Mike Trippiedi; Cast: Phillip K. Galaras, Victor Miely, Veronica Bechtel, and Gary Ambler; Crew: Larry E Gates II, Bill Yauch, Debbie Richardson, Philip Meadows, Jennifer Bechtel.

Below: Veronica Bechtel in Guys Go Green. Photo credit: Jennifer Bechtel.

Fast and Furious 8

Written by Urias Smith. Director: Andrew Stengele; Cast: Kofi Bazzell-Smith, Chase Todd, Molly Cooper, Nadine Gleason, Eva Gleason; Crew: Andrew Nygard, Barrett Nicol, Earn Saenmuk, Molly Cooper.

Watch Out for Butterflies

Written by Megan Graham, Alejandro Hernandez, and Jocelyn LeFaivre; Directors: Thomas Nicol and Joseph Taylor; Cast: Julia Megan Sullivan and Keith Hays; Crew: Matt Wiley, Joseph Taylor.

The Goo Party

Written by Adrian Blume, Pieter Duursma, Lucas Feng, David Risinger, and Daniel Tersiev; Director: AJ Christensen; Cast: David Risinger, Adrian Blume, Bella Nilles, Katie Nilles, Lexie Nilles, Dane Hunter, Matt Shivers, Lindsey Gates-Markel; Crew: Keith Hollenkamp, Andrew Nygard, Leon Harrell, Thomas Nicol, Nick Mann, Barrett Nicol, Earn Saenmuk, Iman Sharabash, Larry Gates, Chris Perardi.

Below: Katie Nilles in The Goo Party. Photo credit: Iman Sharabash.

The Dummy vs. The Mad Robots

Written by Mary Bryant, Trevor Hahn, Nate Hopkins, and Jackson Reder; Director: Carter Boyce; Cast: Micah Boyce, Michael Schuff; Crew: Luke Boyce, Brett Hays, Allison Greenwood.

Race You to Russia

Written by John Patrick Nicol; Director: Luke Boyce; Cast: Finn Dallas, Parker Evans, Karisa Bruin, Christo- pher Meister, Olivia Nelshoppen, Kalika Shapiro, Laura Bane; Crew: Brett Hays, Myles Beeson, Allison Green- wood, Dora Valkonova, Ashleigh Coartney, Anthony Buck, Anthony E. Cabral, Eric Anthony, Mario Coletta, Kyle Fisher, Garrett Hupe, John Isberg, Isabella Hays, Alex Hughes, Charlie Kessler, Iman Sharabash, David J. Ward.


Mr. Snuggles

Written by Curtis Bradley, Andrew Kowalski, and Garret Williams; Directors: Andrew Gleason, Thomas Nicol, and Anna Zorn; Cast: John Nicol, Andrew Kowalski, Curtis Bradley, Garret Williams, Timothy Norcross, Keegan Kennedy, Gavin Scheunemann, Liam Gleason, Veronica Bechtel; Crew: Eric Watkins, Victor Miely, Dora Valkanova, David Nicol, Elizabeth Nicol, Tad Shroeder, Mike Trippiedi, Sue Trippiedi.

Below: Thomas Nicol, Andrew Gleason, Andrew Kowalski, Curtis Bradley, Garret Williams film Mr. Snuggles. Photo Credit: Anna Zorn.

The Doughnut Dance

Written by Jessie Denning; Director: Jason Knade; Cast: Tim Hopper, Alexandra Pinheiro, and Flavia Borges, Cory Kahane, Shaun Baer, Brennan Stacker, Aliona Loghin, Rachel Berg, Dani Ella, Hannah Dobratz, Nicole Prusinksi, Bree Murphy, David Weiss, Sabrina Harms; Crew: Brett Hays, Jason Knade, Devin Delaney, Ben McBurnett, Stacey Buckner, Ronnie Kwasman, Kate Grube, Ashleigh Coartney, Angie Gaffney, Mario Coletta, Zach Alsen, Lauren Gingras, Kenna Hynes, Ashley Petrie, Alexandra Hadley, Alex Hughes.

The Time Will Come

Written by Kiarra Hall-Brooks; Director: William L. Kephart; Cast: Ellison Radek, Mike Prosise, Katie Prosise, Kiarra Hall-Brooks, Johnalene Radek, Ana Almeida, and Sylvie Leyerle; Crew: Andrew Gleason, Eric Watkins, Mike Boedicker, Mike Trippiedi, Julia Megan Sullivan, Anna Zorn.

Below: Mike Prosise, Ellison Radek, Katie Prosise, and director Bill Kephart of The Time Will Come. Photo credit: Anna Zorn.

The Brainstorm

Written by David Hopping; Director: Dan Drake; Cast: Jessica Dockins, Elvis Deane, and Laura Cynkar; Crew: Dan Drake.

My Imagination Became a Ninja and It Is Following Me

Written by Gabby Mancuso & Kathleen Sherlock; Director: Andrew Gleason; Cast: Emma Caparoon, Sarah Heier, Cara Maurizi, Ellie Hall, Levii Frost, Madelyn Henson, Peyton Ade, Delaney Scofield, Evan Reiling, Violet Clemmons, Rebekah Mikayla, Bridget DeLorenzo, and Lillian Kilpatrick; Crew: Eric Watkins, Justin Parker, Emily Jahn, Andrew Nygard, Thomas Polk.

Below: Emma Caparoon in My Imagination Became a Ninja and It Is Following Me. Photo credit: Andrew Gleason.


Written by Nick Boeji, Cody Jesswien, and Mason McAnally; Director: Victor Miely; Cast: Adam Austin, Will Barker, Miguel CuEspinosa, Corey Klonowski, Skye Marcía, Xiomara Martinez, Greg Miely, Victor Miely, Peter Milinkovic, Bishop Stevens, Maxwell Tomasze- wski, Breanna Zepeda; Crew: Greg Miely, Eric Watkins, Josh Grube, Adam Austin, Travis Lufsey, Skye Marcía, Charissa Stone.

Below: Victor Miely, Xiomara Martinez, Travis Lufsey, and Greg Miely filming a scene from Chances. Photo credit: Adam Austin.

The Bedtime Story

Written by Jasmine Domingo; Director: Jennifer Bechtel; Cast: Veronica Bechtel, Matthew Reeder, Kate Sly; Crew: Lisa Riecks-Soucek, Andrew Edwards, Michael Adams, Sean O’Leary, Philip Meadows.

Zack and the Mountain Man

Written by Preston Richardson; Director: Thomas Nicol; Cast: Wyatt Taber, Mark Muller, Greg Trumbold, Chris Taber, David Weisiger, Gladys Kephart; Crew: Eric Watkins, Tim Meyers, Jennifer Bechtel, Robin Berthier, Lucas Miller, Anna Zorn, Stormy Powell, Chandra Watkins, Chris Fairfield, Mikelo Kagomont, Becky Griesheimer, Allison Willard, Chad Goveia.

Below: Wyatt Taber in Zack and the Mountain Man. Photo credit: Anna Zorn.

The Runner

Written by Nathan Martin; Director: Anne Lukeman; Cast: Dominique Allen, Maxwell James Tomaszewski, Jeff McGill, Bishop Stevens, Nathan Martin; Crew: Anna Zorn, Dora Valkanova, Breelyn Mehrtens, Chris Lukeman, Thomas Nicol, Matt Shivers, John Isberg, Tim Meyers, Lucas Miller, Brian Paris, Kenzie Armstrong, Becky Griesheimer, Allison Willard.

Below: Nathan Martin (background) and Dominique Allen in The Runner. Photo credit: Anna Zorn.


Written by Ellie D’Andria, Lana Fitzgerald, and Alora Rent; Director: Tim Meyers; Cast: Dema Evans, Max- well James Tomaszewski, Natalie Bina, Joel Higgins, Lindsey Gates-Markel; Crew: Andrew F. Gleason, Chris Lukeman, Thomas Nicol, Nora Snyder, Andrew Stengele, Eric Watkins, Anna Zorn.

Below: Thomas Nicol, Maxwell Tomaszewski, Natalie Bina, Andrew Gleason, Tim Meyers of Imagine. Photo credit: Anna Zorn.

For more information about this year’s competition, this year’s winners, and all things Pens to Lens, visit the website

Pictured at  top of article: director Anne Lukeman and actor Nathan Martin on the set of The Runner. Photo credit: Anna Zorn. Correction: Dora Valkanova.

Below: a slideshow of the 2014 Pens to Lens Gala, with photos by Smile Politely’s Sam Logan.

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