By SHERIDAN CYR
Plainville native Tyler Macri found a fascination for the world of film at the age of 8, and has been making films of his own ever since. Now, a college student studying film and cinematography at Ithaca College, New York, Macri’s love for production has won him the top prize from the annual Kodak Student Scholarship Program.
The gold award includes a $5,000 scholarship and $5,000 worth of film. Macri earned this award for his creative short film, “What Comes from a Swamp.” He shot the film for an advanced cinema production course in which students complete the task of organizing a crew and completing a film in one semester.
“What Comes from a Swamp” tells a story of a young man hiding a humanoid creature in his bedroom closet.
“The film has an aesthetic that reminds you of a horror film, but I wasn’t trying to make a horror film,” said Macri. “It does have kind of a dark feel to it. I’m embracing that sort of dark, poetic, surreal, realist imagery.”
Like any filmmaker, Macri has a process in which he builds his films. “I usually just get ideas as a single image that pops into my mind when I’m day-dreaming, and I build the story up from there.”
He explained that “What Comes from a Swamp” sprouted from an image he saw in his mind of two people trudging through a bog, falling in, and disappearing. He began to ask himself about these characters: who were they, where they were going, what happened to them. The story played out in his mind, and he brought it to life.
“A lot of my professors and artists I follow preach this gospel of listening to your own conscious, and trusting that these images that you see mean something to you,” said Macri.
Part of Macri’s goal in filmmaking is to make people think about the conventions of the film. He explained that the big film industry doesn’t seem to challenge stories enough, in his opinion. He seeks to be more in-depth and wholesome in his filmmaking than what he often sees in modern pop-culture films.
Macri has many people to thank along his path to becoming a successful filmmaker, including his professors and teachers who have encouraged him along the way.
“None of my professors have ever said, ‘Don’t do this.’ I thank those few professors who encourage students to take an idea and run with it, even if, on paper, it might seem unrealistic,” said Macri. “They’ve been kind of hands-off in this project, which gives me the room I need to explore my ideas.”
Ithaca College assistant professor of media arts, sciences and studies, Andy Watts, was quoted in a press release saying, “I could not be prouder of Tyler. His film is beautiful, mystical and thought provoking. He worked unbelievably hard on it, did everything the right way, and he is richly deserving of the Kodak Gold Award. Tyler is incredibly talented – a true artist – and I can’t wait to see what he will do next.”
Watts taught the course in which Macri shot “What Comes from a Swamp.” Macri applied for the Kodak scholarship on his professor’s behalf.
Macri also wanted to thank his Plainville High School arts teacher, Michael Richters, saying that Richters helped him develop his artistry in his high school setting where art was not very prominent.
Macri will use his scholarship winnings to fund his next project, his senior thesis, which is already underway. He explained that in his thesis film, a mother and daughter live alone. Out of nowhere, fish begin coming out of the pipes. The mother becomes at first concerned, then intrigued, and ultimately obsessed with exorcising the mysterious fish. The story is told from the perspective of the young daughter as she watches her mother go nearly insane.