SF State alumni and cinema major Adam Gold, 25, had the opportunity to screen a film made during his time in
college at the International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix this weekend.
The short film, “The Night Shift,” starring SF State Alumni Hunter Ridenour as Peter Lowry, tells the story of a man who starts working at an orphanage where he euthanizes children after a week. According to Gold, the short was inspired by two experiences in his college career: working in retail and analyzing the comparisons between pound animals and orphaned children.
“The first inkling of the idea came in a conversation with my girlfriend about an animal rights book she was reading at the time,” Gold said. “The author made some interesting comparisons between our treatment of pound animals and our treatment of orphaned kids, and the story really came to life when I let my own life, as a college kid working retail, bleed into that thought.”
Although Gold would rather have viewers make their own connections to the story, he said it does have a central message behind it. Gold wants people to rethink their definition of evil because it is not always obvious. He said some of the greatest acts of evil were imposed through a process, like in Nazi Germany for example.
“If a governing body or corporation creates a lengthy process with 80 steps, and step 75 is ‘and then you kill the kid,’ that process helps to take focus away from the terrible action itself,” Gold said.
The first 20-page script was written during the only week he was not working while in college at SF State. According to Gold, the story just flowed out of him, so writing was not an issue. In fact, his favorite part of the film process is writing and editing drafts. He experienced challenges in coordinating around student cast and crew schedules, securing permits and funding the project out of his own pocket.
“At the end of the day, everyone did an awesome job and made themselves available, but we asked a lot of them,” Gold said. “I was lucky our cast and crew were so understanding and believed in the project.
Hunter Ridenour, who starred in the short, said the emotional arch of the theme was really challenging.
“It was certainly a daunting role and I was nervous about the material and themes explored,” Ridenour said. “Reminded me a lot of current issues like child trafficking and such.”
Though the film was created years ago and Gold graduated in 2014, he said he is honored to still be displaying this short in festivals. According to the film’s Facebook page, the IHSFF will be the first non-local screening for the cast and crew. The festival, founded 13 years ago, features horror and sci-fi films from all over the world.
“IHSFF is an exciting opportunity for us and there are a lot of great films playing there and at the Phoenix Film Festival, which is taking place in the same location,” Gold said.
Ridenour is excited “The Night Shift” is showcased in the festival, and he’s happy it’s receiving so much attention. More than 4,000 attend the IHSFF each year.
“I know Adam has been putting so much of his life into getting this film finished, and it’s so cool to hear that it is being well received,” Ridenour said.
Josh Vega, the short’s art director and fellow SF State alumnus, attended the film festival screening and said the opportunity is opening more doors.
“It’s definitely a great short, with a great concept so I’m really glad it’s getting the recognition that it is,” Vega said. “There were also several people as well who stopped Adam afterwards to enquire more about the film and other potential festivals it may be a part of.”
Gold became interested in filmmaking when he was about 5 years old, when he would often play with his father’s camcorder. He went on to create his first scripted short film in his sophomore year of high school.
“I learned a lot more about the filmmaking process through self-study and some early video production course in middle school,” Gold said.
Though his interest sparked at a young age, his inspiration was fueled by constantly moving around in his youth.
“I moved around a lot as a kid so films were one of the constants in my life,” Gold said. “No matter where I was, I always felt at home in a movie theater.”
Gold believes it is important to find balance. He’s noticed that people tend to focus too much on perfecting one aspect of the process rather than developing a portfolio, but also warns others following the same pursuit to not spread so thin that good work goes unproduced.
“It’s a tough balance, but if you can find it, you’re in a good position to be successful,” Gold said.