Return of the Killer Doorknobs

By Keith Davis

The four 10-year old boys thought it was safe. Tie one end of a string around your buddy’s tooth, tie the other end around a door knob, slam the door, and collect big-time from the Tooth Fairy. But oops, that slamming door yanked out more than their friend’s tooth. The plot thickened, and for the first time in 18 years, student filmmakers in the Park School were making films about someone being done in by a doorknob.

The film, Bicusp Buddies, won the Grand Prize in the 2009 Golden Doorknob Award competition, an honor last bestowed in 1991, the year Gustav “Skip” Landen, professor emeritus of cinema and photography and the creator of the award, retired. To celebrate the return of the Golden Doorknob and pay tribute to Landen’s achievements as longtime faculty member, some 70 faculty, alumni, and students gathered in Park Hall Auditorium on Friday evening, October 9, to view the best of this year’s Doorknob films.

“Skip started the Golden Doorknob in 1970 as a class assignment,” said Bill Carraro ’81, producer of past Doorknob winner Doorknob Pistoleros whose current effort is The Adjustment Bureau, with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. “His idea was to challenge students to work in teams and figure out how to do something on budget and on schedule. The lessons it taught gave me a firm grasp of how films are made. Bringing back the Golden Doorknob is a way to make sure that current students know this type of work is how you build your foundation as a filmmaker.”

Carraro, who established an endowment fund that would generate the cash prizes for the annual Doorknob competition, joined forces with assistant professor of television and radio Steve Gordon, M.S. ’08, and producer Carl Mazzocone ’81 (Boxing Helena) in reviving the Golden Doorknob competition in honor of Landen.

“For aspiring filmmakers, making a Doorknob movie was a rite of passage,” said Mazzocone. “A great tradition has returned to IC.”