Student Films in the Spotlight at Cleveland Festival

For Kent State digital media production majors like Cyrus Adkins, ’23, senior year is marked by the opportunity to create a television or digital film project from start to finish. This is part of the capstone course, Production II, and from it, comes student-produced short films, documentaries, music videos and podcasts that outside organizations and film festivals — regional and national — often recognize as outstanding.

Cyrus Adkins
Cyrus Adkins, '23, discusses his film "The Beauty of Violence," which he completed for his senior capstone and was accepted into the professional category for Cleveland's Short. Sweet. Film Fest.

Adkins, who completed his capstone in Fall 2022, directed and produced “The Beauty of Violence,” which combines elements of ballet and punk music — a creative vision he’s been ideating for several years.

“It’s a story about anxiety and acceptance, mainly centering around a nameless woman who enters into a punk rock show and that evolves into a ballet dance,” he said. “A lot of it is based in my experiences in the Akron punk scene when I was a freshman … I remember going into these basement shows and seeing all of these different types of people.”

During the first weekend of March, Adkins’s, and several other Kent State student and recent alumni projects were featured at the Short. Sweet. Film Fest. in Cleveland, a regional film festival that specifically highlights excellent short films.

Adkins’s capstone film was even bumped up from the student to professional filmmaker category. He considers the recognition as a whole to be a great honor and validation as he prepares to graduate this May and pursue a career in production.

“(This recognition is) something I never thought I would have,” he said. “I’m very hard on myself sometimes. I’m used to being a background player, never giving myself credit. A lot of my professors have encouraged me to make the next step.”

Other Kent State students and recent alumni whose creative projects were screened include the following. Five of them were senior capstone projects, and one, “Half Nelson,” directed by Michael Stockwell, ’24, was created for the sophomore class, Production I:

  • Student Filmmakers Category:
    • Sam Michael, ’22: “Dead and Gone” (Senior Capstone Project)
    • Jacob Marzluf, ’22: “The Cellist” (Senior Capstone Project)
    • Michael Stockwell, ’24: “Half Nelson” (Production I project)
    • Madison Ledyard-King, ’22: “Dreams” (Senior Capstone Project)
  • Professional Filmmakers Category:
    • Cyrus Adkins, ’23: “The Beauty of Violence” (Senior Capstone Project)
    • Elizabeth Juhasz, ’18, and Sarah Smith: “Behind Closed Doors”
    • Alex George, ’22: “The Man With the Cough” (Senior Capstone Project)
    • Zachery Arthur Gosen, ’19: “What’s Best”
    • Jake Marzulf, ’22, and Andrew Chope: “Closer”

Associate Professor Scott Hallgren says he and other faculty in the School of Media and Journalism are thrilled to see so much student-produced work recognized at a festival like Short. Sweet. Film Fest.

“We feel it speaks to the growth of the program and the caliber of work being done in our classes,” he says. “With Cleveland now being a top-12 destination for film/TV work in North America, the future looks bright for digital media production and Kent State."

Filming production
Photo courtesy of Maple Films / Evenfall production

Kent State student and alumni work has been widely recognized at the Short. Sweet. Film Festival. in recent years. Last year, the miniseries “Evenfall,” directed and produced by Kent State alumni Dustin Lee, ’07, and Jon Jivan, ’08, under their production company Maple Films, earned recognition for “Outstanding Local Film” at this festival. The miniseries has been airing on YouTube since then, and the seventh and final episode will be released on March 20, 2023.

“It was a great honor to win some local recognition, especially amongst the other local films that we were up against,” Lee said of the 2022 award. “There is a lot of film talent in Northeast Ohio, and we’ve been fortunate to have some of the best people in front of and behind the camera with Evenfall.


POSTED: Tuesday, March 7, 2023 11:32 AM
Updated: Monday, March 13, 2023 04:48 PM