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Students Take Unconventional Approach in Producing Short Films

The videos ranged from a few seconds to a couple of minutes. And they couldn't have been more diverse.

Peter Eudenbach, assistant professor of art at Old Dominion University, challenged the students in his experimental video class to produce short videos that break with traditional narrative - through the adaptation of a poem, dream or video self-portrait.

A dozen of the best short videos by Eudenbach's students were screened for classmates and other students and faculty last week, resulting in an eclectic half-hour of video.

There was the dreamlike vision of a visit to a cemetery. A student tempted and tormented by a sock puppet. An endless chain of dachshund puppies coming through a doorway.

The art students took to the projects well, Eudenbach said. Part of the challenge was getting the students to think outside the usual comforts of conventional storytelling, he added.

"I wanted them to use video as an art form, to think about the moving image in a totally different way."

James Anderson, who produced the sock puppet film, called "Sock Dream," said he started out creating an entirely different project, using the sock puppet as a device in that piece. The more he worked on his project, the more the interplay between the sock puppet and him became the piece itself.

"It was a very interesting process. It was hard to think about doing a video in this way at first. It's a totally different approach," said Anderson, a senior drawing and design major from Virginia Beach.

Caroline Martin, a senior from Richmond, Va., majoring in photography and printmaking, didn't produce a short film for the festival. But she said that seeing what her classmates came up with will help greatly as she wrestles with her own project - a 17-minute documentary about a sexual abuse survivor.

"It's been really interesting seeing how creatively (her classmates) have made these videos. It gives me lots of ideas," Martin said.

Eudenbach said his students stretched their minds "to do things like some of what we've seen today." One student shot his video through a camera's viewfinder. Another built a model of Virginia Beach and lit it on fire, while a reading of a passage from the Book of Genesis played backward.

"It's not natural for students to think like this, given how they've been bombarded with television and films shot in a conventional fashion their entire lives. But I think they did a good job of it," Eudenbach said.

This article was posted on: April 26, 2010

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