Sycamore couple finds a passion project with an expiration date.
Some people run marathons. Some people learn how to play an instrument. Others, it’s skydiving.
For Kurtis and Jennifer Bowersock, both ’04, their bucket-list challenge taps more into their love of exploring the human condition: the 48-Hour Film Project.
“The stories that other people have to share, their unique perspective, and the gifts that other people have to offer,” Jennifer said is what inspires them.
Ironically, it’s the short production time that appeals most to the busy parents of Benjamin, who turns 4 in April, and Cora, 1.
“We fell in love with it,” Kurtis said. “The first time doing it was really special. We had such a blast that weekend.”
The two-day challenge to make the best short film is part of the Indy Film Festival. When they first heard of the challenge in 2013, the couple was familiar with the festival and had attended a few screenings. They were also working as professional photographers.
“We enjoy movies very, very much, and it was just kind of a natural migration from photo to film,” Jennifer said. “The 48-Hour Film Project came, and it was attractive in that we had 48 hours to make it happen and then we were done. So it wouldn’t be a passion project where it would string out for months and months.”
The clock starts Friday evening when the project organizers give participants the required genre, character, prop and line of dialogue — and then stops at 7 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s amazing what you can produce. Part of the beauty is that it doesn’t matter if you want to spend more time on it, you only get 48 hours,” Kurtis said.
And don’t forget to start rendering the file by 4 p.m. Sunday. “Export it no matter what,” Kurtis said.
Their first film, “Grant-A-Dream,” finished third, and their 2016 entry “For Rest” was recognized for best acting — and caught the attention of the film fest organizers.
“It was just beautiful,” said Chris Overpeck, ’04, board president of the Indy Film Fest. It was his favorite of the competition. “They’re very talented people, and it couldn’t be a nicer film.”
For the Bowersocks, the relationships forged and artistic victories are the reward.
“We brought together a variety people to have a special experience, and it’s just awesome what we accomplished as a team,” Jennifer said. “We were challenged with time and all the other parameters that were given, but we produced something great out of it. We had a good time; everybody learned and grew.”
The winning seven-minute-or-less project will go up against films from around the world at Filmapalooza 2019 for a chance at the grand prize and an opportunity to screen at the Cannes Film Festival 2019 Short Film Corner.
“You have the production studios who typically do it each year, and then you have the freelancers like us who do it. But then I’ve seen families walk in and others who’ve utilized an iPhone or a small handheld camera and whatever editing equipment they could download,” Kurtis said. “It’s doable. This is definitely one of those festivals where if you focus on story, people are willing to forgive that your lighting is not perfect, your sound’s not perfect. If you have a good story to tell, do it.”
Jennifer, who is director of risk management for Ivy Tech, was a Gongaware Scholar and graduated from State’s insurance and risk management program. Kurtis, who is a director for the Think Ahead Studios, earned a bachelor of fine arts from State.
“When we came out of there, we were ready to tackle the world,” Jennifer said. “We were well-equipped and both got in jobs within our area of study. Indiana State is a place where we met our dearest friends, relationships that I still hold today. It’s a place that was big enough to have opportunity, yet small enough to where we could make a real impact and have some focused attention with our professors.”
They met in a photography studio in Fairbanks Hall, when Jennifer was taking an elective intro photography course and Kurtis asked her to pose for a portrait. They went on to work until 2014 as professional photographers, shooting portraits, wedding and commercial photography.
“Photography — particularly wedding photography and family photography — is so attractive, because we’re able to take a fly-on-the-wall approach and really capture moments and emotion,” Jennifer said. “People motivate me. It’s about being able to serve others and to make it better — whether it’s a simple interaction or an experience, a process, a relationship.”