You can understand if Corey Norman sounds like a proud papa when describing Maine Mayhem, the student film festival at Southern Maine Community College.
“It’s just been a really nice honor for me as a teacher to watch these talented students every year,” says Norman, professor and department chair of SMCC’s communications and new media department and a local filmmaker (“The Barn”). “Each year, these students see what the previous year’s filmmakers have done, and try to set the bar higher.”
Entering its third year, this festival represents the culmination of a year’s worth of hard, often frantic work by aspiring filmmakers, whose final project involves completing a film to be shown publicly at Maine Mayhem.
“There’s a lot of lore about how we came up with the name — we’re in Maine; the festival takes place in May — but the name really fits, because the last few weeks trying to get the films ready and finished is absolute mayhem for these students,” Norman said.
The fruits of all this frenzied labor will be shown Thursday night on the big screen at Nickelodeon Cinema, local-movie mainstay and friend to Maine filmmakers, on Temple Street in Portland. (Go to patriotcinemas.com for details and ticket information.)
Continuing its admirable support of local moviemakers, the Nick has gone above and beyond this year, according to Norman.
“The first (7 p.m.) showing sold out in a day and a half, so the Nick added a 9:15 because of the response,” he said. “We’ve always sold it out before, but only one screening. This year, students were flipping out because their families weren’t going to be able to get in.”
And while it’s all well and good that filmmakers’ friends and families are packing the Nick, Norman asserts that the program this year has plenty to offer anyone interested in the future of Maine film.
Or, you know, just some good movies.
This year’s Maine Mayhem will run a full two hours and consist of six films of admirable variety. Norman says that of the six, the first two would probably get a “G” rating, the second two a “PG-13,” and the last two a big “R” for some intense language and violence.
This year’s films are:
• “The Wedding Cake House: Truth Behind the Myths,” a documentary from directors D.M. Smith and Ryan Weed about the venerable Kennebunk tourist attraction.
• “Lost in the Woods,” a psychological drama from director Sasha Brouillard where “a girl quite literally begins to lose herself in the woods,” according to Norman.
• “Dead End Street,” from director Mary Genest, about a Maine detective investigating a series of hitchhiker murders.
• “Bloody Solstice,” a post-apocalyptic battle film from director Alan Dillingham.
• “Six String Strangler,” described by Norman as “a ’70s-style exploitation film” from director Charlotte Warren.
• “Safety & Security,” a “goofy, buddy, cop movie” about campus security officers from director Dicky Erickson.
In addition to the two showings at the Nick, Norman says Maine Mayhem is in negotiations with several other local cinemas for further screenings (the Magic Lantern in Bridgton and at least one Smitty’s Cinema are possible destinations). DVDs will be available as well.
Proceeds from the screenings go to charity, with this year’s ticket money going to Camp Sunshine (campsunshine.org), a Sebago Lake camp for kids with life-threatening illnesses.
As if you needed another reason to check out some always-entertaining Maine Mayhem.
Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.
“Safety & Security” trailer
“Six String Strangler” trailer
“Bloody Solstice” trailer