Indiana State University Newsroom

Student assists on film awarded “Best Cinematography” in Indy contest

November 28, 2011

For most students, working under pressure means writing an essay or putting together a project at the last minute. For freshman Natalie Smith, it means helping create an entire movie - including writing, casting, shooting and editing-- in just two short days.

Smith worked as part of a team to make a movie for the 48 Hour Film Project, a competition that travels to cities around the world and challenges filmmakers to put together an entire short film in only two days.

"It was definitely a lot of fun," said the electronic media major, whose team entered the Indianapolis contest.

Together, the team created "Magic Orange," a film about an unhappy lawyer whose life changes after an encounter at a local ice cream stand.

"Magic Orange" received the awards for Best Cinematography and Second Runner-Up Overall from among 43 entries, according to Indianapolis city producer Jim Walker.

Smith, originally from Terre Haute, said the film was also picked up by a notable Indianapolis film festival.

"The Heartland Film Festival saw it and they wanted to include it in their contest," she said. "So that was pretty cool."

The film's success was exciting for the team, who entered the 48 Hour Film Project's competition for the first time this year.


Smith heard about the contest from a pastor at her church, where she is on the multimedia team and responsible for graphics and text that appear on the screen.


Her pastor encouraged several members of the multimedia team to enter the competition.

Smith said she was immediately captivated by the idea.

"I was really excited," she said. "We had done some little movies together before, so we kind of knew who was good at what things."

The seven-person team drove to Indianapolis, where they were briefed on the requirements for their short film. A specific genre, character name, prop and line of dialogue were assigned to the group.

"You have to adhere pretty strictly to some of the rules, when it comes to filmmaking and different locations and people," said Eric Louk, a 1996 ISU alumnus and coordinator in ISU's Registrar Office who also worked on the project. "As we quickly found out, it really did depend on being a team effort."

In addition to the core group of seven, more than 20 people contributed to the film in some way.

During the two days, Smith worked as a production assistant and managed a variety of tasks. She helped with scriptwriting, storyboarding, picking up props and doing whatever was needed by the group.

"She was that person who would just jump right in there and get it done," said Louk. "I picture her as a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to working in a team."

He also noted Smith's ability to adapt to sudden changes, a key characteristic in an industry where things don't always go as planned.


"We had to improvise solutions for things, so I think that kind of experience is going to be very helpful," said Louk. "It's definitely a good amount of real-world experience for her."


Smith agreed, saying the experience gave her a better idea of what to expect from a career in the industry.

"I guess, it's a little less romantic for me. You know, all the drudgery of just standing outside in the sun for 10 hours for one short little movie. And staying up the night before until 3 a.m. because you don't have time the next day," she said.

"I realize we were on a short amount of time, but still, real filmmakers have time limits as well and have to get things done."

Despite the high-stress nature of the job, Smith hopes to one day work in the media industry.

"I would like to be a filmmaker, that would be my ultimate dream job," she said. "But some kind of editor, or working on commercials would be fun, too."

She said her courses at Indiana State have helped her recognize interests she might be able to incorporate with filmmaking.

"I've discovered I really like my history class, so something like documentaries would be kind of a fun thing to do too."

Overall, Smith said the competition, which she hopes to enter again next year, has made her more sure of her future career.

"I think it's helped solidify it," Smith said. "It was definitely testing ground to see ‘you know, can really take this when you get down into the details.' So yeah, I think coming out of it, still wanting to do it is a good sign."

The team's film can be viewed online at

Natalie Smith
Natalie Smith, far left, holds the green screen for a movie shot. ISU/Courtesy photo
Film members shoot a scene for "Magic Orange." ISU/Courtesy photo

Contact: Natalie Smith, ISU student, at

Writer: Bethany Donat, media relations assistant, ISU Communications and Marketing,