Category: Arts & Features

Maine Mayhem Connection: Ness Hutchins

By Ryan Marshall

The purpose of these interviews is to celebrate the efforts and ambitions of those who are about to embark on the grueling yet wholly rewarding cinematic journey that is SMCC’s annual Maine Mayhem Film Festival, and to shed some much-needed light on the school’s budding community of visual artists.

For this issue, I spoke with Ness Hutchins, a close friend and creative colleague, to discuss her experience with the Maine Mayhem process this past spring:

Ryan Marshall: Who are you and what do you do in the local film industry (or what do you aspire to do)?

Ness Hutchins: I’m Ness Hutchins and I’ve worked as a PA, art department, and an assistant director in the local film industry. I aspire to direct films of my own in the (near) future.

RM: Have you been involved with Maine Mayhem in the past? If so, tell me about your experiences.

NH: I directed my own psychedelic horror short for the 2017 Maine Mayhem cycle, and I’ll be assistant directing Breanna Penney’s “42 Atwood Lane” in the 2018 Maine Mayhem cycle. From my experience I’d say Maine “Mayhem” isn’t a misnomer. It’s a very rigorous two-semester-long project. If someone is serious about working in the industry after their SMCC education, I’d highly recommend directing your own short film. Mayhem taught me so much more than just what you can learn in a classroom alone.

RM: What are some of your most significant influences, cinematic and otherwise?

NH: I love anything surreal. French New Wave is a favorite genre of mine because of the play with editing structure. I highly recommend “Hiroshima Mon Amour,” directed by Alain Resnais. Ingmar Bergman is also a big inspiration for me. He really knows how to play with contrast and subvert expectations. I love the short films of Maya Deren and Stan Brakhage as well. Both challenge film’s visual conventions in a way I find very exciting. I’m more interested in compelling visuals and characters than plot.

RM: After having gone through the Mayhem process, what are your plans for the future?

NH: Post-Mayhem 2017, I assistant directed Mackenzie Bartlett’s Damnationland film “BAPTISM.” I have some other things up my sleeve in the coming months as well.


A New Skateboard Experience

By Daniele Amandolini

IMG_20171210_171643440On a cold Sunday night, just a few days before the winter break, Vincent Amoroso presented his art project for Charles Ott’s ARTS 290 Independent Studies class. While the snow-covered campus suggested snowboarding as the activity of choice, Vincent made us dream of summer with his ambitious and impressive skate-park project.

Stepping into the art lab, the first thing you’d notice was the carbon-drawn renditions of skaters flying through the dunes and ramps that Vincent envisioned. There was more, though, and once you moved on to the detailed overhead maps and the 3-D model, you knew that that this was more than a sketched idea.

Over the 15 weeks that the project has been developed, the park’s name has evolved from SOUNDPARK to SONOPARK™. As the name suggests, this is not a simple skate park: Music is an integral part of it, and it feeds the creative community that this project is intended for.

The fully working and powered model perfectly illustrates the vision of the designer, as you can push a small scaled skateboard over the ramps and a hear sound cue play out as the wheels press on certain spots. This park lets skaters go beyond zipping through ramps and jumping over obstacles; it lets them “create, record and edit their own music,” as Vincent explained.

Inspired by Russian Constructivist paintings of the early 1900s, the park’s slopes and curves have roots that show the depth behind street design and skate culture. For an art project, this would be enough to grant a perfect grade, but SONOPARK™ is perfectly outlined in all of its features. The digitally illustrated logo perfectly encapsulates the urban and creative nature of this product.

Developed with the help of SMCC’s architecture department, the floor plans outline the size of the park and help one picture it in its full scale.

Leaving the lab and exposing my face to the crisp late-fall air, I couldn’t see myself skating any time soon. But while summer seems so far away, it’s easy to imagine Vincent’s project coming to life. The level of detail is impressive, and the passion necessary to undertake such a massive project makes me think that SONOPARK™ will sooner or later become a reality.


(1) Vincent Amoroso stands next to the 3D model of SONOPARK™
(2) A particular of the powered 3D model of SONOPARK™

Photos by Daniele Amandolini

New Student Artist Collective Launches Website

By Max Lorber is a new creative collective that began at Southern Maine Community College. Max Lorber, a former art director for The Beacon and current Communications and New Media Major, began meeting artists on campus at the beginning of the semester, viewing their work and discussing their future plans.

Olivia Orr, another Communications and New Media major at SMCC, came on board with the project as a web developer. They envisioned the website having an original aesthetic; neither Max or Olivia wanted to just use another generic template. But they had never designed or created a website before, so they put their heads down and plowed through all of the technical difficulties of pulling off such a feat. Max worked as a designer and producer, drawing sketch after sketch of each page and gathering/creating content. Olivia, with a background in coding, was tutored by Rob Korobkin, a professional web developer in Portland, Maine.

Of her experience, Olivia said, “I’m glad I was able to work closely with Max throughout this whole process; it’s wild to think about how his initial idea blossomed into something tangible and captivating. I had an amazing time learning how to use WordPress and expanding my coding skills while working on something so meaningful. I’m also impressed with the talent Max was able to put together for this showcase. I always knew Maine was full of skilled artists, but it was cool to be able to put faces and biographies to the names associated with the projects. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for Beacon207.”

Beacon207 serves as an artistic platform for college students and recent alumni, an online gallery of sorts curated by Max Lorber. On the website you will find blurbs on each artist featured, as well as interviews and original Beacon 207 productions.

Beacon207 is hoping to create a bridge between the media-studies programs of Southern Maine Community College, the Maine College of Art and the University of Southern Maine. Featuring and giving exposure to artists from all three of these schools is the goal, as well as encouraging collaboration between creative individuals.

The Maine Mayhem Connection: Breanna Penney

By Ryan Marshall

The purpose of these interviews is to celebrate the efforts and ambitions of those who are about to embark on the grueling yet wholly rewarding cinematic journey that is SMCC’s annual Maine Mayhem Film Festival; and to shed some much-needed light on the school’s budding community of visual artists.

For this interview, I sat down with Breanna Penney, a close friend and collaborator, to discuss her own experiences with Mayhem as she is in the throes of pre-production on her film “42 Atwood Lane”:

Ryan Marshall: Who are you and what do you do in the local film industry (or what do you aspire to do)?
Breanna Penney: Hello, my name is Breanna Penney. For the past two years, I’ve jumped at any opportunity I could to forge my way into the Maine film community. I’ve interned at Lone Wolf Media, a local documentary company, and I am currently interning for Bonfire Films. In the beginning of the summer, I directed a music video that premiered in downtown Los Angeles, and I had also key gripped on two Damnationland films.

RM: Have you been involved with Maine Mayhem in the past? If so tell me about your experiences.
BP: Last year I co-produced and assistant directed “The Mustang, The Hand, and The Big Man.” It was technically my first real set I’ve ever been on and I learned so much from the combined efforts of everyone around me.

RM: Tell me a bit about your upcoming Mayhem film (discuss background, logline, any crew you would like to single out).
BP: I’m going to be directing the film “42 Atwood Lane.” It’s a self-discovery story about a teenager who runs away from home after discovering her parents divorce. She winds up befriending a city taxi driver, in hopes to escape her reality at home.
For crew, I’m going to be working with local filmmakers, including Ant Wheeler (director of photography), Jack Rohner (gaffer), and Ness Hutchinson (assistant director), all three of which have taken the Mayhem class in the past.

RM: After Mayhem, what do you expect will be next?
BP: University of Southern California. My goal, as of now, is to jump right into the shark tank of film once I finish my education at SMCC.

The Importance of Men’s Fashion: Tips on How to Look Refined

By Noor Ibrahim

For a couple of years now, I have had great interest in creating, styling, and analyzing menswear. Because fashion is such an important element of society, I have researched the different kinds of style and what they symbolize.

Some styles can symbolize many things. For instance, bomber jackets are often seen as sporty, while at the same time, they can be worn with a dress shirt. Such combination can project a youthful yet well-put-together look. Another example: Combining a black turtleneck shirt with ankle-length khaki pants, and accessorizing it with gold-framed glasses will not only look classic and vintage, can also give off a sense of effortlessness.

My research has led me to look for a connection between how a man chooses to dress and his personality. This connection, however, is quite difficult to analyze. For instance, some businessmen and inventors may present themselves differently than would be expected. People like Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs dress casually rather than in high fashion, despite their social and financial status. They do invest in deceptively simple clothing items that can also be ridiculously expensive.

Should the general public also dress down, because these influencers do? What are the benefits for an ordinary man to put a little more effort into the way he dresses?

Although many may argue that an individual should do whatever he pleases, there are social norms involved. These social norms exist because for centuries (if not millennia), we were programmed to believe that a person’s external appearance reflects what is on the inside.

I personally do not support this idea fully; however, some parts of it are somewhat true.
From my personal experience, when I started to pay closer attention to my external self, I understood my inner beauty better. Or, in simpler words, when individuals put effort in how they present themselves to the world, it is in fact how they see themselves.

So, how much effort should you actually put in? The answer depends on your personality. For example, if you wish to achieve a preppy-casual look, you will only need a polo shirt and a pear of a nicely fitted bottoms. Tuck the shirt in, and voila. Even if you choose to dress extremely casually, you can invest in other elements that will highlight the T-shirt or the ripped jeans you are wearing. An element that you can invest in is perhaps how you style your hair! This feature has been quite trendy in many forms of media. The reason is it helps to refine and refresh an individual’s appearance.

Men’s fashion can be complex and difficult, but it will never reach womenswear complexity. The general rule to follow is “less is more”! Not only will fashion help you dress up and allow you to express yourself, it might even inspire and motivate you to do incredible things!

‘Loving Vincent’

SelbstPortrait_VG2By Joanne Smith

I recently attended the Portland Museum of Art’s screening of “Loving Vincent.” From the “Loving Vincent” website, this is the “world’s first fully oil painted feature film.” Now, to know me is to know that attending movies at a museum isn’t my usual thing. My tastes are more in line with shows like “Arrested Development” and movies like “Shaun of the Dead.” But, when you’re a Communications & New Media student, studying motion graphics and Adobe After Effects, this is one of those events you’re more inclined to tune in to.

The film has a surprisingly good cast, including Chris O’Dowd, who you may remember as the cop in “Bridesmaids,” and Saoirse Ronan, who has had an amazing run in movies like “Brooklyn,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Lovely Bones.” Before attending the film, it hadn’t occurred to me that there would be an actual cast of recognizable actors bringing the story to life. I thought it would simply be animated characters with anonymous voiceovers.

As a refresher, van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter in the 1800s. Whether you’re an art aficionado or don’t know a Manet from a Monet, you’ve likely seen his famous works, including “Starry Night” with its indigo, cobalt and golden swirls hanging over a small village. He was also known to be a deeply troubled individual who cut off his ear and attempted suicide by shooting himself in the stomach. Additionally, of his many works of art, only one painting sold in his lifetime. For someone in pursuit of creative endeavors, I can relate to how that lack of recognition must have stung. Although I’ll probably keep my ears.

The film takes place one year after van Gogh’s death. A letter he has written to his brother remains undelivered. The postman, played by Chris O’Dowd, and whose character in real life was very fond of van Gogh, pleads with his son to find Vincent’s brother and deliver the letter. This sets the postman’s son, Armand, played by Douglas Booth, on an unwanted and ultimately enlightening mission.

I do have to confess that van Gogh’s style of painting, and those of others in his genre and period, have never been that appealing to me. The short, thick, blobby strokes always make me think of finger painting, which makes me think of sticky fingers. And I don’t like sticky fingers. Several of the scenes in the film (told as the “present”) emulate this style and actually incorporate many of van Gogh’s paintings into the storyline. The animation makes every brush stroke vibrate and pulse as though each scene has a beating heart.

And while the concept of a film created entirely in oil paint is quite fascinating, it is the flashback scenes in black and white that completely captivated me. If you sketch with pencil or charcoal and appreciate the amazing spectrum that can be achieved with black, gray and white, you too will find these scenes engrossing. So much so that a few times, I actually lost sight of the animation and thought I was just watching a black-and-white film.

The film raises some interesting questions about the actual events surrounding van Gogh’s death, but ultimately seeks to reveal more about his life. For those of you who missed it (PMA shows in November are sold out), there are still dates in December, and more information can be found on the museum’s website,