Ryan Wilhelm is a physics major, yet his future lies in the very different world of the arts.
Wilhelm, RC 19’, is from Maryland, and he spends his free time making films. One of these short and often experimental films is going to be featured in the Richmond International Film Festival (RIFF) at 4:45 p.m. on March 1. RIFF is among the largest international film festivals in the Mid-Atlantic, featuring more than 120 films, industry panels, Q&As and live music from Feb. 27 – March 5.
Wilhelm’s film, titled “Life is but a Dream”, is a short experimental film produced on a twenty-dollar budget that Wilhelm said is about “social conformity and refraining from individuality.”
He submitted “Life is but a Dream” through a website called “Film Freeway,” through which filmmakers can apply and submit their films to multiple festivals. “I just sent them my film and filled out all the information and just waited to see what they would respond with," Wilhelm said, "And yeah, I got accepted.”
“Life is but a Dream” is the first film that Wilhelm has submitted to a film festival, and Film Freeway requires a $60 entrance fee. “I was like 'Mom, you’re wasting your money,' but I was psyched when I got in," Wilhelm said.
At a table in 8:15 at Boatwright, Wilhelm balanced his skateboard on his chair and pushed back his long, shaggy blonde hair as he attempted to explain the concept of his 2:30 film, which challenges the sense of individual freedom that society seems to promote and simultaneously deride. “Often society tells you to be yourself but in reality it kinda seems like, don’t be that much of yourself. You know?” Wilhelm said.
Wilhelm began producing films during his freshman year of high school when he and his friends created a film club at their school. “There was no club for film, and we wanted to do that, so we just asked the dean of students if we could make the club ourselves, and it got approved," Wilhelm said. Today the club continues to be popular at his school.
Wilhelm creates films for fun now, but someday he wants it to be a career. The content of his films is serious, and they contain social messages in which he truly believes.
“[The content] really has to connect with me," he said. "Otherwise I think it’s going to come across as something that I didn’t put much effort into. It has to really portray my ideas and it feels a little vulnerable to do that but that’s what I believe the bests films come out of."
Once Wilhelm settles on the inspiration and concept for his film, he writes a script. During the writing process he begins to have an idea of what exactly the film will look like.
From there, all it takes to achieve his cinematic visions is $20, a trip to Target and a few willing friends as actors.
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