Benjamin Nestor has always wanted to see one of his movies played in theaters. Come tonight, he’ll have to think of a new goal.
That’s because one of Nestor’s projects, a short film titled DEADLINE, will be featured during the Short. Sweet. Film Fest.’s student filmmaker’s program at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2, at Atlas Cinemas Shaker Square.
Maizy Windham, a third-year dance, English and theater major, will also have a project featured in the festival: a short film titled BlockBusted!. Both students’ films were created in partnership with Studio 300, a student filmmaking club at Case Western Reserve University.
Going into its twelfth year, the Short. Sweet. Film Fest. was created by former CWRU student Alex Pavloff and alumnus Michael Suglio (CWR ‘09, MGT ‘12), the latter of whom is now a part-time lecturer in the Department of Theater. Their goal? To showcase the type of short, sweet, original and unique films that often soar under the radar of other film festivals.
“Films are meant to be viewed together as a community,” Suglio explained. “Like any art, you hope to share it with others. [We] wanted to create a community of local, national, and international filmmakers all coming together to share their films with each other and other patrons who love film as much as we all do.”
Nestor, a fourth-year student majoring in marketing and minoring in film, didn’t set out to make a film for the Short. Sweet. Film Fest.—he made DEADLINE simply because he’s passionate about filmmaking, and he wanted to use it in his portfolio for his graduate school application.
Windham produced Nestor’s film and suggested he submit it to the festival, and ultimately he acquiesced.
“Never did I think that my film would get selected,” Nestor said. “I credit a lot of this success to Maizy’s superb producing abilities. Without her organizational skills and support I do not believe the film would have been this successful.”
The 10-minute film follows a young, neurotic college student who oversleeps and must run around campus to print out his paper and turn it in before the deadline passes.
Through the entire process, Nestor found the dedication of his team to be extremely admirable—and he wants to thank his friends and family for encouraging him along the way.
“I was still unsure of whether or not a career in film was feasible for me, so when we got to set the first day in my apartment I was nervous to take the lead,” he said. “But, then I called action for the first scene and then said ‘cut.’ I was immediately sold. That was it for me. There was nothing else I would or could do with the rest of my life [other] than make movies.”
Windham first learned of the film festival when she took Suglio’s video production class last spring. After volunteering during the 2022 festival, she was inspired—and made it her mission to showcase the work of Studio 300.
“I met so many creative and kind filmmakers, many of whom were close to my age, making films in Cleveland,” Windham said. “BlockBusted! was in the final stages of editing near the deadline for festival submissions, so I decided to submit and just see what happened.”
The 21-minute film is a comedy/mystery about a detective inspecting the disappearance of an award that was set to be presented at a film festival. All of the attendees of the festival are interviewed about the disappearance in a classic “whodunnit” structure.
Windham just felt lucky to do something creative during a time when many artistic outlets were restricted by the pandemic’s isolation period.
“We filmed this about two years ago when I was a [first year], during the height of COVID precautions so we had to take a lot of extra steps to ensure the health of our cast and crew,” Windham said. “All of the pre-production tasks were done remotely, and we could only have two actors and the director in the room at the same time for the actual shots that we filmed.”