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Department Of Theatre And Media Arts

Media Arts student wins Best Emerging Director at film festival

Media Arts student Willem Kampenhout won Best Emerging Director at the Other Worlds Austin Film Festival for his film The Surface. The film also won Best Emerging Production Design, attributed to Ashley Cook. Kampenhout started making films when he was only six years old and used his personal experience growing up as the inspiration for The Surface. In December of 2013 he spent winter break watching several crime drama series, which sparked the question, “How much would one risk on behalf of their family?” “I began writing the story of a mother wandering the apocalyptic wasteland in search for spare parts for her cybernetic husband and daughter whilst avoiding a mechanically mutated monster,” Kampenhout said.


From this, he developed the story of a mother who risks everything to save the life of her son. The film follows the mother as she searches for a new power source to help her dying son. After being tricked into buying a bad power cell, her only hope is to venture to the blighted surface and steal the infinity cell from one of the monstrous “tainted” creatures. The whole film came together in about two years from start to finish. Kampenhout mentioned the greatest difficulty behind creating a film was being a student and working with other students. “We have obligations other than our projects,” Kampenhout said. “Because it is not an income source, we have jobs as well.” Other than a lack of time, they faced a lack of experience that required more time to produce quality work. Despite these challenges, Kampenhout enjoyed working with other talented and eager students who worked on the music, sound design, art, cinematography and acting. He believes that real joy comes when someone other than oneself gets behind the story and makes it better. They entered the film in Other Worlds Austin, a film festival featuring only Sci Fi films, where he won the award. The Surface also won Best Student Film at the Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival and has currently been accepted into Dam Short Film Festival (Nevada), Original Narrative FIlm Festival (Dubai) and Film Quest (Salt Lake City). “We are building an audience for the film, and seeking out distribution and investors to fund a feature film version of it,” he said. Visit the film’s Facebook page for the trailer and updates about the film.