Alumni and Students Represent at KC FilmFest

Each got their start in the Communication Studies Department
UMKC filmmakers in the studio

A bevy of current and former Communication Studies students had work shown during the 23rd Kansas City FilmFest International.

From harnessing a magical, albeit useless, superpower to a night in the life of a call-girl driver, the films and their writers, directors and stars showcase a breadth of creativity and skill.

We spoke with some of the FilmFest participants about their experiences working on films and their upcoming projects.

Andreina Byrne, a 2013 grad, produced and starred in Crude Oil. The film follows Jenny (played by Byrne) as she breaks free from a toxic friendship and learns to control her benign superpower. The film was also screened at the Sundance Film Festival where it was nominated for the Short Film Grand Jury Prize. Byrne says she was overjoyed to have audiences relate to the film saying, “we’ve all had a person in our lives that makes us feel a little nutso at times.”

Andreina Byrne headshot
Andreina Byrne, producer and star of Crude Oil

Sweetheart was co-written by senior Jackson Montemayor and 2018 graduate Cory Cullen, and takes aim at the seemingly innocuous pet names (a.k.a. catcalls) that women endure on a daily basis. Montemayor, who also directed, recalls initial hesitation about two men telling the story from a woman’s perspective saying, “we have no clue what it is like to be in the shoes of a woman, so we knew we needed to do our research to get it right.” Cullen, who also served as cinematographer, says he hopes men watching the film “realize that even though they meant no ill-will, at a point it’s all kind of the same dismissiveness.”

Senior Alex Harbolt co-wrote, edited, scored and starred in Outcall. The film follows a call-girl driver who’s got to keep a secret when his passenger kills her john. Inspired by directors David Fincher, Wes Anderson and Derek Cianfrance, Harbolt says he is, “fascinated by human actions and behavior, both good and bad.” He’s currently working on his next film, Pigskin.

Alex Harbolt headshot
Alex Harbolt, co-writer, editor, composer and star of Outcall

Additional Kansas City FilmFest participants + Roos include:

Matti Hayes' screenplay Brush Marks won 'Best Short Screenplay' in the Kansas City Women in Film and Television Short Screenplay Contest.

The Book, directed by Kyle Womelduff, played as part of the Heartland Student Shorts I block.

Kostym is written and directed by Jeff Mundinger, who recently won an award at the BisonBison Film Festival student competition. It played as part of the Find and Seek Shorts block.

Published: Apr 11, 2019

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