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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Shields Library acts as Muse for student film

Student filmmaking may not appeal to everyone, but it’s hard to deny the appeal of a familiar on-campus setting – even such an infamous structure as Shields Library.

At Whim’s End, a short independent film created by senior English major Randall Wilson, is scheduled to premiere on Friday in the Technocultural Studies Building.

The film, shot solely in Shields Library and surrounding areas like the Quad, involves a quiet correspondence between a boy and a girl through a medium of library books. A trailer to the film, available on the film’s MySpace page, suggests a curious development between the characters as they search for and find out more about each other.

The film is the first of the Serendipity Series, a set of three films written and directed by Wilson. The series, funded completely out-of-pocket, is a project of Wilson’s Culthouse Productions – a nonprofit production company aimed at bringing together filmmakers in the Davis community to create independent films.

Finding actors and crewmembers for the film didn’t prove to be a difficult task for Wilson, who primarily asked friends and people she had met in previous film classes to join the production. Production assistant Andrea Manners, a senior technocultural studies and film studies double major, credited the ease of this process to what she perceives as a tight-knit community of student and local filmmakers.

“Because Davis has a pretty good following of students interested in film and producing film, all of us pretty much know each other at this point,” she said.

Senior film studies major David Vasquez, who had taken a film studies class with Wilson, played the part of the boy in At Whim’s End.

“I have never acted before, so it was more than a bit daunting to imagine myself as an actor,” he said in an e-mail interview. “But I would have regretted letting this opportunity pass me by. It was fun.”

Wilson, whose influences include directors such as Michel Gondry, Baz Luhrman and Stanley Kubrick, drew the story idea from a quote she found placed in book in Shields Library. Soon after, she began writing the script with the library as the main setting.

Shooting in the library required significant preparation and clearance. Amy Kautzman, associate university librarian for the humanities and social sciences, worked with Wilson in allowing the library to be used. She explained in an e-mail that the library “asks that all nascent and professional directors work through [the library] to ensure the students are not interrupted as they study and that UCD is not used for commercial purposes.”

“[Wilson’s] professionalism (a well written script, great presentation, and plan for a shooting schedule) and excitement made this film a very easy decision for the Library,” Kautzman said.

Students studying in the library signed waivers if they were included in the shot. According to Wilson, many showed excitement toward the film and cooperated with the crew.

“I thought [the library] would be an interesting place to have the film take place. Everybody thinks of different places for different films,” Wilson said. “[The library] had so many interesting settings, whether it was windows to sit at, giant windows, tables … [and] bookshelves. We found gorgeous places where on film it looked beautiful.”

The premiere of At Whim’s End will be held Friday at 7 p.m. in the main room of the Technocultural Studies Building. More information is available at myspace.com/atwhimsend.


JUSTIN T. HO can be reached at arts@californiaaggie.com.


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