by Ryan Fine, Joe Bursley, and Ben Sapet

There were no duds at Frog Baby Film Festival 2018. From top to bottom, the lineup of short films was full of clever and enjoyable submissions in a wide range of genres and styles. The cowboy westerns, action and horror films, and dystopian comedies made it impossible to know what to expect next, and that’s not even to mention the categories for documentaries and music videos. The only thing these films had in common was that they all showcased the undeniable talent of Ball State’s own home-brewed filmmaking community.

Note: This roundup does not include the two submissions in the brand-new Public Service Announcement category, “This Body is Mine” directed by Kate Young and “kNOw PSA” directed by Selena Webb. These PSAs were submitted as part of a contest by Know No, a non-profit organization that aims to spread awareness of the definition and boundaries of sexual consent. The winner, “kNOw PSA,” will be used as the official commercial for Know No. – Ryan Fine


Forenoon of Woe

Directed by Jacob Guenin

Opening up the festival was “Forenoon of Woe,” a succint piece of poetry whose medieval language contrasts with decidedly modern scenery. In the film, a dry protagonist responds with reliable apathy through increasingly dramatic situations. Buildings burst into flames, people get hit by cars, but the man just rolls his eyes and keeps moving. Carefully shot and brilliantly paced, “Forenoon of Woe” is a delightful piece of dark comedy whose simplicity of storytelling only makes it more effective. – Ryan Fine


Love: A Four-Legged Word

Winner:
Best Documentary

Directed by Max Harp

A short documentary about the local pet shelter and volunteering for the sake of helping animals. The film interviews different volunteers about their experiences with the animal shelter, including one volunteer who met her beloved pet through her volunteer work. This short documentary helps give the viewers a personal look at the world surrounding animal shelters and volunteering. – Joe Bursley


That Friday Night

Directed by Von Storm

“That Friday Night” tells the story of two friends who decides to prank a couple in a relationship that’s on its last legs. The story thrives on a constant sense of escalating tension from the wrong-combination boredom, recklessness, and eventually unchecked anger and impulse. The script and performances do an excellent job dotting the growing tension with comedy that does little to convince the audience (and other characters) that everything will be alright. With stylish camera movement and well-crafted tension, “That Friday Night” is a small self-contained thriller worth watching. – Ben Sapet


In a Place, Together, Doing Something

Directed by Emily Fischer

A romantic comedy, a situational drama, and a psychological thriller all rolled into one, this film is a smart and well-crafted experiment. It shows three unrelated scenes with three unrelated pairs of people, all very different but all using the same dialogue. With a structure like this, “In a Place” could have easily slipped into jarring or confusing territory, so watching it hold together throughout its duration makes it fascinating to watch. – Ryan Fine


Unveiled

Directed by Quentin Basnaw

An unlikely action story filmed on Ball State’s campus, this dramatic film follows a woman who joins a mysterious secret group to help take down a maniacal corporation, whom she holds responsible for the loss of her spouse. Special effects and well-choreographed action makes this thriller exciting and suspenseful, doing its best to create a compelling action story with a limited scope and budget. This film succeeds in overcoming daunting circumstances and delivers an entertaining thriller with a chilling ending for all viewers. – Joe Bursley


Still Alone

Directed by Nevin Markitan

“Still Alone” is the music video for the song of the same name by Indianapolis rapper Keyze Arizona. With a strong sense of the song’s rhythm and progression, the music video feels almost as if it was developed alongside the song itself. The video translates the song’s sense of thoughtful loneliness with color grading that makes Keyze’s dark outfit stand out against bright spots of nature. – Ben Sapet


The Followed

Winner:
Best Drama

Directed by Nick Kinder

With a runtime of only about three minutes, “The Followed” is more an exercise in cinematography and mood-setting than a fleshed-out story. That makes it a very good thing that the cinematography is excellent. Wide shots of a lone vagabond filmed in middle-of-nowhere Idaho convey a real sense of solitude and desolation. The spaghetti western-style duel that occurs when that solitude is interrupted provides an expected but nonetheless thrilling ending. – Ryan Fine


Alexa 2.0

Winner:
Best Comedy

Directed by Elijah Brand

This comedic film takes place in the near future, where the Amazon Alexa personal assistant has been upgraded to have human-like artificial intelligence. However, this upgrade comes with some unintended side effects, with a conclusion that any sci-fi movie which has explored AI has ultimately come to. The story follows a man and his unsuccessful attempts at dating with an Alexa 2.0 in his house that develops some unfortunate behaviors. Great comedic timing and witty allusions to the sci-fi genre make this film an enjoyment for the audience, knowing that it is only fiction…for now. – Joe Bursley


Magic-Off: The Final Act

Winner:
Best Action

Directed by Blake Conner

The Magic-Off series returns for the third and final installment of its Charlie-Chaplin-meets-VFX slapstick comedy. This time, the dueling magicians must team up when they are confronted by a powerful newcomer with malice on his mind. “The Final Act” uses the series’ wordlessly expressive performances to deliver some outstanding moments of emotional authenticity—making this a wonderful send-off for the series. – Ben Sapet


Lightswitch

Winner:
Best Alternative/Experimental
Best Sound Design
Best Editing
Best Production Design
Best Screenplay
Best Actor (Alex Spalding)
Best Direction
Best of Festival

Directed by Nick Kinder

The premise of “Lightswitch” is abstract and cryptic. The protagonist enters a warehouse to find a switch that reads “Not a Light Switch.” With his curiosity piqued, he flips it on and off, discovering that it causes alternate timeline versions of himself to pop in and out of existence. Without a concrete story beyond this, the film focuses on creating a scene with biting intensity and a metallic industrial atmosphere. “Lightswitch” was by far the most decorated submission at the Frog Baby award ceremony, and it deserves every award it was given. – Ryan Fine


Alcohol: The False Culprit

Directed by Savonne Pearson

Another documentary that hits closer to home, this time surrounding the famous campus ban of fraternity events with alcohol. This film examines the impact, or lack thereof, this ban had on reducing the sexual assault epidemic on campus. The film interviews many students, from the creator of the infamous “Ball State Truth Redefined” comic showing Charlie Cardinal arresting a bottle of alcohol while ignoring an actual assault case, to the students of the Progressive Student Association, as well as man-on-the-street interviews of student opinions on the ban while it was in place. Covering a controversial subject matter for many students on campus, the film took a hard look at the issue of sexual assault and the official campus response. – Joe Bursley


Light the City Up

Winner:
Best Music Video

Directed by Von Storm

This music video for Keyze Arizona’s song of the same name follows Keyze and his friends through a breathless night wandering the city. The video captures the feeling of being young and on top of the world. Keyze’s raps about his ambitious journey to stardom feel right at home with the images of him feeling at home with the skyline. – Ben Sapet


The Midnight Man

Winner:
Best Actress (Taylorann Smith)

Directed by Will House

In “The Midnight Man,” a writer who moves from New York to Indiana for a simpler life finds anything but simplicity. Upon finding an ominous metal case in her kitchen, she realizes that a short story she wrote in the big city is coming to life yet again. When skepticism leads to instructions unfollowed, the film becomes much more straight-up horror. Tense performances and a horrifying masked villain make “The Midnight Man” a legitimately unnerving experience. – Ryan Fine


You Are the Universe

Directed by Lilly Hunchman

This beautifully composed visual poem takes a look at the idea of living on Earth for all living organisms, not just for humans. This film composes stark contrasts of brightly colored natural scenes with shots of grim and gloomy city urbanization, tied together with prose about respecting all life on Earth and promoting environmentally conscious ideas from the perspective of the human race. – Joe Bursley


Billie & the Man

Winner:
Best Color Grading
Best Cinematography

Directed by Ashley Mullen

“Billie & The Man” has a remarkably simple setup: Billie is being chased by a man who cut the leg off her dog and wants to kill her. Slick editing and professional-quality cinematography make every second of the film’s three-minute runtime a treat. The film’s wry take on the western genre feels free to pause the action and deliver asides straight to the camera—playing not only with genre conventions, but general film conventions. “Billie & The Man” packs a heap of fun and voice into three delightful minutes. – Ben Sapet


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Ryan is a Music Media Production major who wrote the first ever Byte music review and has been involved with nearly every other section at some point. He is also an event planner at Village Green Records and the primary booking coordinator for the store’s outdoor concerts.

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