Mark Kendall, a student in the MFA Social Documentary Film Department, continues to pick up awards for his film The Time Machine; the film recently received a CINE Golden Eagle Award in the student category, as well as the award for Short Documentary in Telegraph 21‘s Best of Student Docs 2010. The CINE Golden Eagle Award acknowledges high-quality production in a variety of content categories for professional, independent and student filmmakers, and has recognized filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Ken Burns and Ron Howard in previous years. Kendall was joined by alumnus Dustin Grella (MFA 2009 Computer Art), whose narrative stop-motion animation Prayers for Peace about his brother’s death while on deployment with the U.S. military in Iraq, also won a CINE Golden Eagle. Telegraph 21 is a video magazine that features documentary films; the contest winners were selected from an international pool of filmmakers.
Kendall spoke with the Briefs about his film and the recognition its been receiving:
The Time Machine profiles Wil Alvarez, a man from Honduras who works as a watchmaker in Grand Central Terminal. Tell me about the genesis of the film.
The Time Machine is a short documentary that I made for my first-semester directing class. Our assignment was to create a film about a process, and my mind immediately began thinking of ways that I could explore the idea of a process through visual metaphors. The first things that came to mind were to follow a jigsaw-puzzle cutter, someone who embalms corpses or someone who builds watches. I ran the idea past my instructor, and she mentioned there was a watch shop in Grand Central Terminal that might fit well for the kinds of ideas I was interested in exploring.
How do you think the recognition this film has received will influence your future work?
I think every filmmaker wants an audience, and film students are no exception. I’ve been submitting The Time Machine to a variety of festivals and contests because many of them concentrate on sharing and celebrating the work of film students whose work focuses on documentary storytelling. All the successes along the way have really been a vote of confidence that, if I continue to follow my intuition in my work, my films will continue to resonate emotionally with audiences.
What do you find interesting or challenging about the documentary genre?
One thing that I will forever find fascinating about documentary filmmaking is that the filmmaker ultimately is responsible for creating a world—a world that must be explored, reported and imagined. The magic of the cinematic illusion is that the images all become ‘real’ from the perspective of the audience as they are watching. I find it fascinating that this is something we can explore in documentary as well.
Image: Poster for The Time Machine, designed by Danny Preslar.