A documentary by two Notre Dame student filmmakers has been featured in 12 film festivals across the country and won numerous awards. It's the latest success story for documentarians from Notre Dame, a line that extends from How to Die in Oregon director Peter Richardson to The Great Alone’s Greg Kohs to Wordplay director Patrick Creadon. That tradition of excellence extends to 2015 graduate Dylan Parent, whose short documentary on a Holocaust survivor screened at the St. Louis International Film Festival, and Erin Zacek ’11 and Dan Moore ’11, whose film was chosen for the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival.
Greg Kohs ’88 will wait as long as it takes to earn the trust of his film’s subjects. Kohs, who majored in American studies in the College of Arts and Letters, makes his living directing television commercials and independent documentaries. His newest film, The Great Alone, about four-time Iditarod champion and cancer survivor Lance Mackey, won the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival this summer.
Justin Mitchell ’95, Greg Kohs ’88, and Mike Canzoniero ’93—three Notre Dame alumni who became professional filmmakers—were invited back to campus last year to create short films about fans’ first time attending games at Notre Dame Stadium. Producing “First Time Fans” with Fighting Irish Digital Media, Ted Mandell of the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre wanted to give the alumni full access to a Notre Dame football game. But he also wanted to make existing students part of the project, so they could see what it actually means to be “on set.”
In a new course, Special Effects for Studio and Stage, associate professional faculty member Ken Cole taught Department of Film, Television, and Theatre students how to brainstorm and design a wide range of practical illusions for use in creative productions. The group of about 10 students simulated explosions, used makeup to create realistic-looking wounds, built props out of scraps and spare parts, and conjured up a realistic rainstorm.