Wis-Kino co-directors Josh Klessig and Sam Lawson introduce the group's January slate of short films.
The local short film society known as Wis-Kino kicked off the year in a brand new screening spot on Sunday night. Moving from their longtime home at the Orpheum Stage Door theatre, the group got together in the large back room at the Escape Java Joint coffeehouse on Willy Street.
"This is much more intimate than the Orpheum was," says Josh Klessig, one of the co-directors of Wis-Kino. "I like it -- it's a much more laid back venue."
The new venue did provide a more informal and snug setting for the eight films submitted by local filmmakers. Most of them adhered to the monthly theme, "Drip," an element that the filmmakers were encouraged (but not required) to include.
The flicks kicked off with a pair of very entertaining entries by Craig Knitt, an Appleton-based filmmaker and cinematography instructor. His work as a teacher was highlighted in Making the Rounds, a single-take steadicam look at the overlapping lives and conversations of students in their high school hallways and cafeteria. The film was choreographed to cycle through the halls and encounter various students multiple times over five minutes between classes, and Knitt and his students hit every mark on their fifth take. His second film was the crowd-pleasing Drip, a themed entry that followed a Rube Goldberg device -- a bowling ball, ramps, a candle burning a string, pulleys, garden shears, a weight, an old fan, a toy boat in a pan of water, dominos, rice falling into a scale, a rifle, an orange, an ax, and a cat -- created to stop a dripping basement faucet.
Following these entries, the Wis-Kino screening continued with the drip-themed shorts. The Fall by Emily Mills featured a first-person soliloquy by a drop of water hanging from a calcium-encrusted faucet, awaiting its gravitational fate. Musing abstractly through liquid light and color, The Jar by Shelby Floyd and Heidi Johnson peered through the bottom and sides of a water- (and olive-) filled jar as droplets of oil and dye plummeted into it. They also created The Apparatus, which took a stop-motion look at the titular object encrusted with drips of multicolored wax. The final themed film was the animated If I Was a Drip by Roger Bindl, in which a Seussian poem from the perspective of a droplet was read atop a series of water-relevant objects drawn to look like ice sculptures.
The full list of films screened by Wis-Kino contributors follows below:
- Making the Rounds -- Craig Knitt
- Drip -- Craig Knitt
- The Fall -- Emily Mills
- Middleton History Center -- Phil Wissbeck
- The Jar -- Shelby Floyd and Heidi Johnson
- Big Sequel -- Emilio Tozzi
- The Apparatus -- Shelby Floyd and Heidi Johnson
- If I Was a Drip -- Roger Bindl
Three short films from Wis-Kino's sister group in Louisville were also shown at the screening.
It's film festival season in Wisconsin again, and Knitt was also busy at the screening looking for any last-minute submissions for one he organizes in Appleton. Along with Tony Mayer, Tom Thorne and Jason Buss, he is a co-director of the Wildwood Film Festival. Held every spring, the festival is dedicated to Wisconsin filmmakers and primarily features short works. "Every film has a Wisconsin connection," says Knitt, "be it that the filmmaker went to school in the state, if they grew up here, or even if the film is set here."
Wildwood is organized in part to provide a film festival opportunity for people living in the Fox Valley. "It's a great networking opportunity," says Mayer, "a great socializing opportunity to meet people you didn't know were in that area." The festival is set for Saturday, March 24, at the Appleton Performing Arts Center.
The next Wis-Kino screening, meanwhile, is on Sunday, Feb. 17, at Escape Java Joint, with "Love/Sex" serving as the seasonally appropriate theme.