First of a series of articles from our visits to the Commonwealth of Virginia’s twenty-five university film schools.
We have a little secret for you. In the northwest corner of Virginia, in the bucolic Shenandoah Valley, there’s a growing buzz. Not traffic, mind you. It’s the sound of excited Shenandoah University students about to enroll in next year’s first Film Studies Major program.
SU, a relatively small liberal arts college, is digging movie-making in a big way. When music and film professors Paul DiFranco and Glenn Anderson sent out word for student help on their feature film, “Santa Girl,” eighty-four students (including some football players) signed up for the production. With a generous grant from Capital Arts Entertainment and a whole lot of donations from Winchester merchants, DiFranco and Anderson produced a feature-length film – shot in only 17 days in Virginia.
Santa Girl is the story of a slimmed-down and all-business Santa who hasn’t recovered from the loss of his wife, Mrs. Claus. The story will focus on his daughter’s desire to attend college despite her father’s misgivings. After Santa eventually relents, Cassie must navigate a strange new world while keeping the identity of her iconic father — and her own magic — a secret. Santa is played by Tony-winning actor Barry Bostwick and the daughter, by Jennifer Stone of Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place.” The film is in editing now.
DiFranco says the University has a growing number of student filmmakers who have produced some amazing short films. The Poe Film Festival can’t wait to tap into the talents of Shenandoah University at the 2018 College Film Awards next November.