Student filmmaker pursues passions, finds festival footing


February 3, 2021

Alexander Griffin knew from early in life he wanted to work in entertainment in some way, but SUNY Oswego showed the way to channel his passion as a cinema and screen studies major.

That avenue is paying off, as two of his short films -- “Frame Fumble” and “Vector” -- have earned acceptance into multiple film festivals with international reach, with the former earning a pair of awards.

He credits Oswego’s cinema and screen studies program, which is filled with “incredible talent” and “probably one of the best, at least in my opinion,” for unlocking his potential as a filmmaker. 

Griffin’s stories “reach for ideas that really have not been done before in the way that I have done them,” he said, with many of the creative results viewable on his Dream Corridor Productions YouTube channel.

“Frame Fumble” unfolds in the style of a slapstick silent movie with Griffin as a man confronted and confounded by the familiar black frame that surrounds classic films. The film earned a Best Editing award and a nomination as Best Short Film from the Across the Globe Film Festival.

So far, it also has been accepted by the Lift-Off Global Network Sessions Film Festival, Lift-Off First-Time Filmmaker Sessions Festival, Lift-Off First-Time Filmmaker Online Sessions Festival and Grizzdance Film Festival.

“Having the aspect ratio of the black bars on either side of the screen be a character in the film is just something I haven't seen done before,” he said. “It really is a playful concept.”

“Vector,” a brief two-character adventure featuring special effects and spanning genres, is an official selection for the festivals that selected “Frame Fumble.” 

“That film is all over the place, and I never wanted to be in one place and any given time,” Griffin explained. “It's mystery. It's drama. It's thriller, suspense. It's comedy at one point. There are even references to anime. There are, I believe, at least 10 references to other films that I have planted in that one short film.” 

Aiming to entertain

Griffin remembers from childhood having an interest in showmanship and a desire to entertain others. He started as an actor in community theatre and even did some Broadway training, which helped him with both acting and directing. Coming to SUNY Oswego helped him find his path and true passion.

“Once I started studying cinema at Oswego, I know that is what I want to do,” said Griffin, who previously had made some home movies using stop motion and “very, very low-quality movies because I really didn't know what I was doing back then,” he said. 

The light bulb really went off when he made a short film, “Star Wars: Renegade,” as a project in Joshua Adams’ “Intermediate Cinema Production” class.

“I was the director, and I also did the visual effects for it. So that was the first time I really exposed myself to the editing software that I use,” Griffin said. “I realized because I can animate lightsabers frame by frame and have it be believable, the world and the possibilities are endless.” 

That confidence and knowledge meant he could focus more time and energy on the actual content and getting the story that he wanted to tell than worrying about logistics.

Griffin offered praise for all the professors he has had in cinema and screen studies, including Adams, Jacob Dodd, Juliet Giglio and Amy Shore, who provide a blend of talent and expertise on technique, writing, history, the language of film, genres and more. 

“I've seen improvement in myself,” Griffin said. “I've seen improvement in my classmates, who have really provided some wonderful films as well. I have been quite impressed with some of the content that is produced there, but I am proud to have been a student of these wonderful professors and a classmate of these people in Oswego.”

His professors told Griffin about the Film Freeway website, which is “probably the easiest way to submit content to film festivals, get them recognized and begin networking,” Griffin said. Filmmakers can use it to apply to a range from the biggest film festivals to smaller niche ones. 

Griffin has applied to more than 50 in total, and at least one invited him to do a question-and-answer session. In addition to screening his films, the festivals provide valuable workshops, networking opportunities and other sessions to help filmmakers.

In turn, Griffin is using his time to give back.

“When I'm not feeling creative, I want to provide beginners access to introductory cinema technology and procedures,” he explained. These have included tutorial videos on such tools as a light meter and a Sennheiser video microphone.

“My message for beginning filmmakers or those who are new to the department is let no one keep you in your pursuit to make magic happen for others,” Griffin said. 

His chief influences include Walt Disney and George Lucas, and he follows and promotes timeless advice for the former. “Walt Disney himself said, and I quote, get a good idea and stay with it, do it and work at it until it's done right,” Griffin said. “And that's the philosophy that I use.”