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Festival Highlights Local Talent

by Ryan Loughrey


“Any dream you have is not meaningless”– advice from Colleen McShay.

Colleen McShay is one of many local artists who submitted and won accolades from the Sixth Annual Sundial Film Festival. Her film, revolving around the character Alice and other classic fairy tale heroines, encourages people to dream, and won second prize for narrative films.

The event brought people from the north state together in the Cascade Theatre, dressing as if for a Hollywood gala but being surrounded by the atmosphere of a family gathering, everyone reveling in each other’s company and laughing and generally crowding too close to each other.

The lack of personal space was indicative of just how popular the event was, however, the overall mood was jovial. In the breaks between films, members of the community were encouraged to peruse the photographs that were also being judged, still graphics of the beautiful community we are surrounded by.

The event was hosted by members of the Active 20-30 Club, an organization with members aged (perhaps not surprisingly to a perceptive audience member, which I was not tonight) from 20 through 39. The group has sponsored the event for three years (taking over from the Rotary Club), and uses the funds to “aid underprivileged youths in our local community,” according to the first speaker.

The group also served to introduce the films, as well as bring out the director or directors and ask them questions about their films, giving the audience the unique perspective of seeing the directors beam with pride about their films. They were also humble people, not like huge celebrities and their egos still fits in the community, which adds a graceful touch to the event. The man who stood in front of you at the concession stands and ordered wine may have, and turned out to be, the very same man who directed the thrilling post-apocalyptic film that opened the festival.

The subjects of the films varied widely, such documentaries revealing how Cottonwood Creek School children animated and created the trilogy that is “Whirl,” or the four college students that, off of a whim, decided to send a go-pro into space accompanied by an Indiana Jones lego in the film “Project Space.”

Other films were dubbed ‘Narratives,’ and also had widely varied plots, with some enigmatic and fraught with drama, and others sardonic or morbidly funny, such as the winner of the best animation: “The Perfect Tree.” This Claymation film follows four friends who fight in the search of a perfect tree and their bizarre anecdotal escapades, and the denouement features the heartwarming message that the holidays are naught but a bitter reminder of one’s loneliness and inevitability of failure.

The winner of the competition was a film entitled “Rope A Dope,” which can be found on youtube. This hilarious short film features a character who is beaten up by a martial arts gang, only to awaken the same day after being knocked out. With each day he fights the same fights, he learns and improves. The native Redding-ite director used the martial arts sequences juxtaposed with the skyline of southern California to create his story.

Members of the audience were of all ages, from the youths supporting the films their cohorts had made, to the elderly couple that sat in the back and still held each other’s hands. A far younger couple, two college students Berenice and Trevor, told us that they came to “support local events.” They expressed notions that were no doubt representative of much of the audience. “We are interested in local talent, from videographers to photographers.”

They expressed the notion that local events can be more fun, an inspiring notion when too many college students turn to other means of fun that may straddle the borders of legality.

The audience was driven by a love of community, but what drove the directors? For Christopher Parks, who directed “After the Fall,” it was his love of the behind-the-scenes actions that drove films. “I love to create,” he told us, sipping red wine in his argyle sweater and unkempt hair and artful facial hair, “I remember watching “Star Wars” and watching everything in addition to the movie, seeing how the movie was made.”

For Colleen McShay, who was raised in Indiana but currently attends college in Redding, she has always been “severely interested in film and theatre.” She took a few classes before finally making the film, which featured many scenes of downtown Redding. She wanted to encourage any aspiring filmmakers to “just go for it.”
Four simple words that roll off the tongue so easily, but actually taking the leap of faith and pursuing what you desire is not always so easy. It took eight months for her to actually finish her film, and this is living in a place that is seven states away from her home. So if there are any aspiring filmmakers out there, just remember her story and perhaps it will inspire you to create yours. See you at the next Sundial Film Festival.


Here is a brief description of all the films presented, in order, as well as links to the films (if attainable):

  1. “After the Fall” – Directed by Christopher Parks

This post-apocalyptic world features a young female who wanders the world trying to survive, and           meets another character whose intentions are mysterious.

  1. “Watching the River Run” – Directed by Bob Madgic

A documentary highlighting the beauty of the Sacramento River as told through a collection of photos and videos, with sentimental music.

  1. “The Making of Whirl 2” – Directed by Ben Keeline and Cottonwood Creek School

This won the “Best Student Film” category and explained how students acted, animated, and made  the film Whirl 2.

  1. “Whirl 2” – Directed by Ben Keeline and Cottonwood Creek School

This sequel to the epic saga about a boy that is turned into a frog, and his quest to reverse the curse before it is too late. According to Mr. Keeline, “True to Peter Jackson, there will be a third ‘Whirl’ to complete the trilogy.”

  1. “The Mill” – Directed by Charlie Williams

This in-depth documentary looked at America’s last fully operational steam powered sawmill and box factory, located in Oak Run. It was founded in 1897 and still owned by the Phillips family.

  1. “Shakespeare Bridge” – Directed by Avi Ross

This one minute movie has no dialogue and requires active watching. It’s a short, but filled with unspoken emotions and leaves the audience feeling a little shaken.–8hxWKvHA

  1. “How Was Your Day?” –  Directed by Stacie Moore and Castle Rock School

Follows five students throughout the day as they are confronted by bullies and bad situations. Will evoke memories of the horrors of middle school. At the end of the day, when the parents ask the eternal question “How was your day?” the children give a response that indicate nothing happened. The film aims at raising awareness of teen depression.

  1. “The In between” – Directed by Rachel Nichols

A young woman awakens in a strange forest. Haunted by a shrouded, spectral figure, her only guide is an impish creature who promises to bring her home. She is confronted by memories and unknown pains, and must embrace what she does not know if she will learn the truth.

  1. “Perception” – Directed by Shawn Dyer

Folows the story of two lovers meeting for the first time and seemingly disjointed memories that retell their story of love and tragedy. He learns that his through these glimpses of his past, he is neither alive nor dead, but a world in between.

  1. “Commonplace” – Directed by Colleen McShay

A quirky dramedy that follows Alice as well as other fairy tale characters living in a mundane and drab society. When she begins to dream and imagine, a sort of chaos emerges, causing these characters to question the society they live in. (full version not available)

  1. “Burkino Faso/Clean Water – Directed by Tyler Faires

This documentary followed one student who attempts to bring awareness and raise funds for the production of water wells in West Africa.

  1. “Rope-a-dope” – Directed by Eric Jacobus

The protagonist awakes to find himself on the wrong end of a local gang of martial art thugs, only to awaken the same day after being knocked out. Every day, he finds himself in the same fight, and slowly improves his skills. Winner of the Best Narrative award.

  1. “The Perfect Tree” – Directed by Travis Marlett

Four friends learn a valuable Christmas lesson while searching for a tree. Won the Best Animated Film award.

  1. “Break” – Directed by Elisabeth Williams

A girl caught in a mundane and boring life meets a weird little girl in a tree and discovers the beauty and wonder in life, which she is able to translate into her paintings. (only trailer available)


  1. “Cheat” – Directed by Christopher Glavan

A phobic college student moonlighting as a PI reveals to a client that his wife is cheating at the game words with friends, filmed in a noir style.

  1. “Project Space” – Directed by Mike Dewey

4 guys who have no idea what they are doing attempt to send 2 Go-Pro’s to space.


DSC_0495 DSC_0479DSC_0521 DSC_0524 (Colleen McShay)

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