September 20, 2021

Alum Beth Kearsley on her film '360' (screening at the CFA Gala!)

This Wednesday is the CFA GALA: GLOW. It's a powerful evening show highlighting the creative works and research of our students and faculty, celebrating three 2021 Distinguished Alumni, congratulating our scholarship recipients, and thanking our generous scholarship donors. Representing the Film & Media Arts Department is alum Beth Kearsley ('21), whose short documentary film "360" will be screening at the event. We asked Beth a few questions about "360" and her insights into filmmaking. 

What inspired you to make this piece?

When I was approaching the project, I knew I wanted to make a documentary that had space for highly stylized aesthetics. I think there is an opportunity in nonfiction filmmaking to create a world emulative of a film’s subject instead of just replicating the world in the form of realism. With that idea in mind, I determined Micha Osuchowski would be a great subject because of her very vibrant personality and the curated aesthetic she has shaped for herself. I was inspired by music videos, DIY/punk culture, and the internet when it came to the presentation of 360. When it came to the narrative of 360, I thought it would be timely to illuminate the types of people in the thrifting subculture as thrifting is rising in popularity.

How did you balance the skateboarding and thrifting elements of the story?Still from "360"

Structuring the two elements was a task of finding moments in the footage where you see how both activities relate to one another through the themes of nostalgia and self-perception. The thrifting elements had a chronological structure naturally built-in, and the skateboarding elements were fluid. So, I would essentially find and plug in the skating scenes that had a similar tone to the already determined timeline of the thrifting. It was a lot of just testing things out in editing to get a feel of what worked. The music and animated transitions also helped with the pacing and moving between the different segments without getting too lost. 

What lessons did you learn while making this film?

The biggest takeaway for me was to trust the process. In documentary filmmaking specifically, your subject can lead you to important aspects of your film that you could never have planned. For instance, I initially did not intend for skateboarding to be part of 360. But upon shooting with Micha for a few days, it was clear that skating was something that she cared about just as much as thrifting. Luckily, the two activities were motivated by similar impulses in Micha’s life and worked well together thematically. So, the film organically changed from being only about thrifting to about Micha as an individual who happens to thrift and skate. I think the film is so much better for having the skateboarding stuff. Had I not allowed the film to naturally take shape by following the inclinations and passions of my subject, the skating would not be there at all. 

Still from "360"What was it like working with Professor Emelie Mahdavian on “360”?

Working with Professor Emelie Mahdavian on 360 was a great experience. She was supportive of me trying different things out, like using stop motion or an 8mm camcorder. For whatever new idea I had, Emelie would point me to references that could be sources of inspiration. Plus, her background in editing was super helpful to have when I was in the editing process because she would see things in the film that I wouldn’t always pick up on. I appreciated having her as my mentor for 360, and the film wouldn’t be what it is without her guidance.

What are you doing now? Any upcoming projects?

Since graduating, I’ve been working as an assistant editor on a couple of features. So far, it’s been an insightful experience to work in a professional setting and learn all the ins and outs of editing and post-production on a larger scale. I don’t have any personal projects in the works just yet, but hopefully, I can get something started soon.

 

You can find Beth Kearsley at beth.mov on Instagram, and bethmov on Twitter. The CFA Gala is this Wednesday, September 22nd at 7pm in Kingsbury Hall. It is free, with no tickets required, and a dessert reception will follow the show. 

Last modified on September 20, 2021