Insomnia Film Festival fosters creative strategizing, collaboration

Many Geneseo students spent their weekend staying up late watching Netflix or hanging out with friends. But for the 72 students involved in the Geneseo Insomnia Film Festival from Friday April 1–Saturday April 2, they devoted their weekend to expressing their passion for creativity. Created by Computing and Information Technology’s instructional support specialist Joe Dolce in 2012, Insomnia encourages students to ignite their creative juices by creating a short film in a 24-hour time period. Dolce was inspired to start the festival because of Apple’s similar film program; he gathered a couple of students from the theater department and spent a weekend making a film. He then proposed the idea of the film festival to Geneseo Director for Computing & Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Susan Chichester and the event has been a huge success ever since.

Beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday April 1, participants and faculty gathered in South Hall, where students flowed in and out to plan and edit their films. Students had to choose at least three elements to incorporate into their film from a list of 20. A list of funny and artistic elements for the film was also released at 5 p.m., and so commenced the fast-paced, innovative 24 hours. On top of the three elements, Insomnia also includes the condition that the film must be under three minutes long.

Dolce noted that there were 22 registered teams this year. Most of the students present at the kickoff seemed both eager and nervous to start their 24-hour project. Senior McKenna Miller, juniors Michael MacDonald and Shannon Hayes and sophomore Con Kieran Roche made up one of the participating teams.

“To become a team, we all just recognized that we had a unique set of skills that would be good for this competition,” MacDonald said. “We all have a background in either video, producing or editing, photography—all kinds of things—so we thought we had a good shot at it and it would be, at the least, very fun.” MacDonald is in the photography club at Geneseo and noted that filming is a hobby for him.

“Making films has always been an interest of mine,” Roche added. He noted that he has pursued his love of film since elementary school.

Miller explained that she writes scripts online as a freelance writer.

“We’ve got a very good mix of skills here. I’m just excited to see what we can come up with,” MacDonald said. “I think, when four creative minds get together, what they can come up with in 24 hours could be crap or could be amazing. So, I’m excited to see how it turns out.”

Alongside aids and Geneseo employees Senior Desktop Services Analyst Steve Praino, Assistant Director & Manager for Systems & Networking Kirk Anne and Web Developer Jack Bechdol, Dolce helps students expand their creativity and create something amazing under immense pressure and time constraints.

“I’m a big believer in education through play,” he said. “[The students] learn things about time management, project management, video editing … [and] interpersonal dynamics.”

Dolce explained that he is passionate not only about the event, but about seeing the students’ collaboration and creative energy. He said that he looks forward to having a special bond with the participants each year, and that he also looks forward to seeing their finished product.

“This is my favorite holiday,” Dolce said. “There’s no hyperbole involved in that. I look forward to seeing what videos these students produce. Some of them are really funny ... some of them tell a really good story ... I’ve had a couple that have actually brought a tear to my eye.”

The films from Insomnia will be shown on April 19 at Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement and Talent Day during a special awards ceremony in Wadsworth Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Currently, the films are available to stream on the Insomnia website.