Motion picture student to premiere short film debut

Nathan Hippenmeyer

Ryan Ballman, Contributing Writer

Motion picture production senior Nathan Hippenmeyer will premiere his short film “Twin Falls” this summer. It will be his short film debut as writer, director and editor.
Hippenmeyer plans to premiere the film this August at the annual Big Lens Festival in Dayton, a festival that showcases films by Wright State film students, and submit it to national film festivals.

“We’re going to have our final cut hopefully by June,” said Hippenmeyer, “and then we’re hoping to send it out in July to Sundance and all the other great festivals.”

“Twin Falls” was filmed in only six days during the summer of 2013 as Hippenmeyer’s junior thesis project. It is currently in the post-production stages where video and sound are being edited.

The film tells the story of a boy named Caleb who fantasizes an adventure in an attempt to escape reality. Hippenmeyer said the film comes full circle when Caleb’s reality is revealed in the end.

The hardest part of the filmmaking process was casting and directing a child actor for the role of Caleb, according to Hippenmeyer. The motion picture production faculty warns its students of likely difficulties with casting child actors, which Hippenmeyer understands.

“When you’re trying to direct, you’re trying to get them to draw from their experiences,” he said, “and they don’t have anything to draw from.”

He felt very fortunate, however, to cast 7-year-old James Covarrubias as the lead. “When he walked in the room, I knew he was special,” he said. “When he read his script, he read it once, and the second time he did it, he had it memorized.”

In one scene, Covarrubias’ character Caleb flies in a 1950s airplane that was acquired from the Oakwood Historical Society. Nick Doll, director of photography and fellow film senior, brought this scene to life by shooting from within the airplane to provide a first-person point of view for Caleb. Doll also happens to be scared of heights.

“I was terrified of heights before we did test shoots in a plane a few weeks prior to shooting,” said Doll. “After the pilot did a few barrel rolls and stalls I became desensitized and could handle anything. I just wished he would have warned me.”

While in the air, Doll could not see what he was filming due to the sun and wind. Fortunately, the shots from within the airplane were a success. He feels very lucky to have achieved Hippenmeyer’s vision of the scene.

“We only had the pilot and that plane for that very narrow time frame so the pressure was very tangible,” he said. “I didn’t want to let the team down and luckily it went off without a hitch.”

In addition to Hippenmeyer and Doll, the “Twin Falls” team included Alex Maxwell as producer and Josh Deane as art director.

Hippenmeyer is currently interning with the locations department for the film “Carol,” starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. It is a period piece set in 1950s New York and is being filmed in downtown Cincinnati.

He plans to move to Los Angeles after graduating this May.

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