Reel Experience: David Ames
by Courtney Clemente '09
David Ames ’72 is president of Ames Enterprises and director of Global Energy Holdings Group. As an undergraduate TV and radio major, Ames was staff manager for WICB and head of the station’s film and graphic department. Those interests led him to establish the David R. Ames Film Award in the Roy H. Park School of Communications last year to inspire creativity and recognize the talents of young Ithaca College scriptwriters and filmmakers. The annual award of up to $10,000 included matching funds from the Park School.
Launched as a competition in fall 2008, the award program required students to submit original scripts in September. In October, four finalists were chosen from among 30 applicants. The finalists were then asked to put together a production team and a production proposal, and to pitch their projects to the award committee. Only one would be awarded the funds to turn his or her script into a film.
“We were really blown away by the work of all the finalists,” says Julie Blumberg, assistant professor of cinema, photography, and media arts and committee chair. “Some of it was at the professional level.”
By late October, the committee announced Haldane McFall ’09 as the winner. In November, the young filmmaker and his crew of Zack Redmond ’09 and Joshua Bushueff ’09 traveled to New York City to cast actors and scout local locations for filming New Susquehanna. With only three actors and simple shooting locations, McFall says they were able to focus on the details and include some intimate moments.
“The film is about a man traveling to his hometown, where he runs into his old girlfriend and his father,” McFall says. “It’s meant to be about regular people; it’s not sci-fi or action.”
“The students usually have a bare-bones budget,” adds Blumberg, saying she feels it’s important to give students an opportunity to produce a professional-level film. “The award gave them a higher production quality than they’d usually get in a student film. That’s what David Ames wanted, and he really wanted it to start with a writer, so that’s why we chose the script first.”
Although McFall didn’t get much sleep throughout the process, he says it has been an incredible learning opportunity.
“It really is a crazy amount of work,” admits McFall, who in addition to budgeting, organizing, and producing the film was taking four other college courses. “There’s an endless list of things to do. It’s several hours every day, but at the same time it’s super fun. I’m making a movie. What’s to complain about?”