Two students lead independent film project

Dora Kreitzer, Assistant News Editor

Two students, Nolen Hayes ’23 and Max Bunzel ’22, are writing, directing and producing a short film—currently called the Hapox Movie. 

After entering a horror short film in an informal 24-hour student film festival held by the Film Club last year, Hayes and Bunzel were inspired to transform those ideas into a larger project. 

“From there, we took the ideas that we got from filming and coming up with the story in such a small amount of time and decided that we wanted to kind of do something more serious or more involved, and we developed the script a little more, and started to find other ways to take on the story. And right now we just about finished up the script, and we’re looking to cast characters for the updated version,” Bunzel said. 

Their writing process began even before a short film “treatment” of their idea, but as they found new ideas, the project kept building. While their final screenplay ended up being 100 pages, Hayes and Bunzel recently decided that they would limit themselves to an abbreviated 20 minute short-film. The name “Hapox” is a homage to the original short-film, as that was the name on the first draft of the first script. 

“Hapox” comes from the word “hapax,” which is a linguistic term for a word or expression that only occurs once in a work of literature. 

“The story is about a detective who is from Philadelphia, who gets kicked off the force, and he’s looking for another cop job, and he gets a job in a small rural town in PA. And at first things kind of seem very fine and okay, and the police just seem very incompetent there. But slowly and surely, he uncovered a crime and a conspiracy about this local police force, which has been covering up a crime in the small town and getting away with it. And then he kind of gets to the bottom of that,” Hayes said. 

Currently hosting open audition casting calls, they plan to have casting and writing done by the end of February, allowing them to start filming in March. Considering filming and editing, Hayes and Bunzel plan to have a finished product towards the end of the semester for a showing at the downtown Campus Theatre. 

“I’m most excited to get started filming. And really the whole process, honestly. Editing a movie is just as fun as filming a movie. Even more important, arguably. So, editing, I’m really looking forward to. Casting: we did some casting last weekend, we have a lot more still to do, but even the auditions were really cool. I’m genuinely excited for every step of the process,” Hayes said.

“Also, the post production process, we plan on submitting it to festivals, student festivals around the country. And hopefully, if we make something good, this could help our careers after college” Bunzel said.

This is going to be a very “Bucknell” production, they say. On top of the directors, other Bison are getting involved as Production Assistants and actors, and a majority of the filming will be happening on campus or in the Lewisburg area. On top of other film shooting experience, Hayes and Bunzel are both involved in campus’ Film & Media studies program.

“We took a production class with Eric Faden last semester, where we shot a pilot, and it was pretty much all in our hands to get the equipment, decide what camera movements we want to do,” Bunzel said. 

Faden is the National Endowment for the Humanities Chair in the Humanities and a Professor of English. The group also mentioned Daniel Nienhuis, the department’s Video Production Specialist.

“With the guidance of Eric Faden [and] Daniel Nienhuis, we kind of learned a lot about the ins and outs of production. And I really think that class, out of all the classes I’ve taken at Bucknell, is what’s really going to help me move forward with this production,” Bunzel said.

Hayes and Bunzel plan on entering the short film in various film festivals, including one held by the University every two years, called the Bucknell Intercollegiate Film Festival (BIFF). BIFF is open to all undergraduate and graduate students attending any Pennsylvania school. While 2020’s was held online due to COVID-19, this year they plan on holding it in-person downtown at the Campus Theatre in the spring.

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