Film Studies Program to screen local shorts



Ian Nolte and Michael Valentine on the set of “Trace Around Your Heart” in 2012.


Marshall University’s English department is sponsoring a screening of locally produced independent films directed by professor Ian Nolte Thursday from 7-9 p.m. in Smith Hall 154 to promote its film studies minor.

“The film studies department is a university-wide program dedicated to the study of film,” Nolte said. “Starting in the spring semester, I’m teaching a creative writing course built around screenwriting. So it’s a film studies course about screenwriting where we’ll be writing screenplays together in class and workshopping them. It’s going to be, I think, a really cool course.”

During the screening, Nolte plans to speak about his experience as a filmmaker.

“I consider myself a zero-budget filmmaker, which I consider a type of filmmaking; I’m going to talk about what that it is and how those films are accomplished, what you’re able to accomplish as a storyteller in that medium and how it might be attractive to students who want to make films with no money,” Nolte said. “Not small budget independent films, I mean zero-budget films. I’ll also talk about how to tell a story in the films, what that process is for me, and why I chose to work in that medium.”

One of the films being screened is the short movie “Trace Around Your Heart.” The film departs from your typical romantic comedies by featuring a puppet as one of the main characters.

“It’s an orange puppet named Trace Cherokee,” Nolte said. “Trace was born with the soul of a poet and he expresses himself through country and/or western music. The basic premise of the movie is that one time, years ago, he had a hit record with a woman he was in love with called ‘Trace Around Your Heart’ and he was overcome with success and he succumbs to the demons of drug addiction who ruin his relationship and now he lives in a basement apartment with a chapstick man. By fate and happenstance, he gets the first shot at a second chance.”

The short film co-stars local musician Sasha Colette as Cherokee’s ex and Michael Valentine as Trace Cherokee.

Another short that will be screened is called “Hickory High Life,” which was produced for a 72-hour filmmaking competition where contestants had three days to write, produce and edit a short film.

“I’m screening that one specifically because one of the assignments in my screenwriting class will be inspired by that type of contest,” Nolte said. “Writing for zero-budget films and how to take that in account will be one portion of the syllabus and we’ll be talking about competitions like that.

Advancements in technology and the accessibility to cameras that produce quality images is something Nolte said he is excited about.

“It used to be film was so expensive that you couldn’t make one even if you had all the passion in the world without a sizable budget and now you can make a pretty nice looking film just using your cellphone,” Nolte said. “Then it just becomes about passion, storytelling and the amount of work you want to put into it.”

Nathan Thomas can be contacted at [email protected]