Recent graduate Joshua Spires was the cinematographer on the award-winning film The Whale.
When Joshua Spires agreed to be the cinematographer on The Whale, a film created as an assignment for one of his classes at UNT, he didn't realize that he would be shooting more than 100 miles away from campus at Caddo Lake in East Texas -- and at sunrise and in darkness.
"The contrast interested me. It turned out to be a visually interesting movie," says Spires, who received his bachelor's degree in radio, television and film in May.
Spires' work on The Whale during the 2011 spring semester for RTVF 4400, Advanced Film Production, resulted in the film winning the 2011 U.S. National Kodak Film School Cinematography Competition in the S8/S16 National Competition category. The award, which is for the U.S./Canada region in the competition, is one of highest honors in the U.S. for cinematographers on student films.
The Whale will now compete against the winning films in the Asia-Pacific, European and Latin America regions for one of three spots in the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, which will be held in central France Jan. 27 - Feb. 4.
Shot on Super16, The Whale focuses on a 10-year-old boy living with his parents in a cabin on a lake. Abused by his father, the boy masks his reality with fantasies of drifting freely towards a new existence across the lake. The title of the 14-minute film refers to an allegory narrated during the movie.
The film's writer and director, Jaime Chapin, who also received her bachelor's degree in radio, television and film in May, says The Whale combines narrative structural techniques with experimental tendencies. She added that the film also is heavily influenced by the tone and structure of The White Ribbon, a 2009 Austrian-German film that is set in 1913 in a remote village in northern Germany and is narrated by the village's former schoolteacher.
Spires says he, Chapin and the rest of the film crew for The Whale successfully raised funding for shooting at Caddo Lake on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo, two online funding platforms for creative projects in art, design, film, music, publishing and other fields.
"We took three trips to Caddo Lake, and had to rent two houses and make them look like one house," Spires says.
Spires is currently the video production associate for Houston's First Baptist Church and a freelance cinematographer on various film projects.
Buddy Price with UNT News Service can be reached at Buddy.Price@unt.edu.