‘Buzz Studios’ showcase spotlights student films

Li’s “Buzzing Bad” graces the screen in the Atlantic Theater. Through Buzz Studios, students like Li bring their visions to life. // Photo by Alexey Tatarinov Student Publications

Tech is well-known for its engineering and computer science programs, but few realize the talent pool that extends here outside of STEM. Buzz Studios is a filmmaking club meant to foster the skills of writing, producing and directing. Last Friday, Sept. 1, the club hosted its Film Showcase to spotlight five student projects from the 2022-2023 academic year. Held in the John Lewis Student Center’s Atlantic Theater, Buzz Studios’ screening invited students to celebrate the members’ short films and learn about the club’s commitment to fostering creativity.

The entire showcase lasted an hour and 15 minutes and highlighted four student projects. The first film titled “Geiger” is directed, written and produced by Mario Lopez, third-year BME. “The story begins when Martin is dumbfounded to see that the periodic table in his freshman chemistry class seems to be changing from day to day. Unable to get answers from those around him, his quest for the truth leads to horrifying results,” Lopez said online.

Merging science fiction with mystery, this thriller explores the hazardous consequences of a periodic table anomaly set in the well-known labs of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons.  As soon as the opening scene appeared, the awkward introductions and fumbling of lab equipment were immediately reminiscent of the general chemistry courses from freshman year and the class crush who sat next to you. While the build-up incites confusion to the audience, the revelation of the periodic table anomaly sparks a quick escalation to keep viewers on their toes.

The second, “Buzzing Bad,” and third, “Nave Mold,” short films are projects from the mind of Ryan Li, second-year CM. “Buzzing Bad,” a parody of the popular crime show “Breaking Bad,” follows a “chemistry student who has lost his grade-based scholarship at a certain bee-themed university and resorts to making Adderall to pay for his tuition.” This comedic spin on the serious drama features quips like, “You’re an aerospace major, you were always meant to get people high.” Li’s other project, “Tech Square Times: Nave Mold,” follows the “Tech Square Times’ report on a horrible zombie apocalypse sweeping through the Tech campus.” 

With jabs at North Avenue apartments and social media, Li’s satirical news release is a great example of the collaboration of club members and the editing skills Buzz Studios teaches. These were the most enjoyable films, as they both poked fun at universal campus issues without requiring the audience to think. Media is often meant to be a source of escapism, so using the pattern of satirical television and zombie comedy felt like a perfect transition into the following film. 

“Canned” is the fourth student film that traverses between science fiction and comedy. Ethan Ollins, third-year ECE, depicts the “life of professional couch potato Kenny Palermo when he comes to the unsettling conclusion that his bowl of soup could be capable of sending him back in time. When he enlists his fiercely skeptical friend Billy Nelson to help, Kenny’s fears come miraculously true, and bizarre time-travel antics ensue.” 

“Canned” is a film about soup. Magical soup. Time travel mixed with comedic editing and a dash of fraternity exaggeration makes for the perfect bowl of entertainment. Audience members chuckled as their thoughts were spoken on screen when the supporting actor questioned the sanity of Kenny using a gun to protect himself from the soup on the counter. From beginning to end, the comedic atmosphere lightened the night before leading into the showcase’s concluding drama.

The last short film screened was Tech alum Gabriel Jones’ “Feel Blue/Less Than I Do.” The drama reflects on emotions and reactions.  “Harbor anger? Or embrace change with an open heart? Viewers can choose one story, the other or both. Will you choose a story of love and understanding or one of immaturity and spite? The choice is yours.” The plot tackles the difference in thinking positively as opposed to succumbing to the bitterness of trauma and lost potential. 

“Feel Blue/Less Than I Do” hits a familiar hopelessness to students forced to carry responsibilities through constant letdowns and isolating experiences. The concept is beautifully eye-opening to how negativity, which becomes increasingly common throughout college and early adult life, swallows your character. Although the film defines two choices for a person to make, they are often not decisions made based on preference. Negativity morphs into the path to survival in many cases, with positivity only appearing after rebuilding oneself and turning towards healing. 

Buzz Studios creates entirely student-led shorts and works hand-in-hand with outside partners, enlisting Atlanta talent to star in their films. “Gieger,” “Canned” and “Feel Blue/Less Than I Do” all feature local actors and actresses. These projects act as a bridge, connecting people across interest fields. 

“[Buzz Studios] is absolutely what you make of it and what you want to get out of it,” Ollins said. Buzz Studios is a tool for students to engage in their passion without the pressure of grades and with the support of fellow students. Each project creates opportunities to learn as an editor, producer or cast and crew member. 

Filmmaking is not limited to a certain type of student at the Institute. Buzz Studios creates an environment of learning. Technique is passed down from club officers and students who have experience in Literature, Media and Communication major’s film or production courses. Monthly production days allow new members to jump onto set and learn on the job through testing out three to four different roles in one weekend.

Buzz Studios uses its platform to enrich filmmaking and highlight student voices in their yearly Film Showcase. Whether you are looking for a place to build your vision or develop a production toolkit, the club continues to be a source of creative growth going on its 22nd year.

To explore Buzz Studio’s portfolio of past student work, visit their website at buzzstudios.org/.