Grace Jordan, arts & living editor

Every year Rome hosts the Rome International Film Festival, or RIFF for short. Guest celebrities like Brian Baumgartner from “The Office” have attended in the past. This year, Billy Bob Thornton will make an appearance on the last day of the festival for a viewing of his Academy Award winning movie “Sling Blade.” Another movie playing at RIFF is “Dearest Alfie,” written and directed by junior Matt Parks. 

Parks is not new to the world of RIFF and “Dearest Alfie” is not the first movie he has submitted to the festival. In high school, Parks, along with his friends, created a short, five-minute film called “One Dime Away.” 

“It was about a boy who visits his rich aunt and uncle,” Parks said. “And he kind of rejects that whole wealth and stuff, but then he buys into it and puts on a fur coat that ends up causing him to like scratch his arms until he starts breaking out and bleeding and stuff.” 

For his second time around, Parks submitted “Dearest Alfie,” a 10-minute film that follows a man in a shack, writing a letter to someone named Alfie. 

“It’s called “Dearest Alfie” and it’s about a boy who takes refuge in a shack on Mountain Campus,” Parks said. “Documentarian, journalism students go and basically drag him out under the guise of documenting.” 

Parks wrote the film during the coronavirus pandemic, after Berry students had been sent home. He was living with his aunt and uncle at the time when the idea struck. According to Parks, he already had a few ideas of what he wanted to incorporate into the film, it was just a matter of writing a story that could fit the style and theme he desired. 

“I had seen the shack on Mountain,” Parks said. “I liked the location and thought it would be a cool place for a music video. But then I thought I should make a film at the shack so we could still get the aesthetic. I had this sock visual and combined it with wanting to shoot at the shack, so it was a matter of who the people were.” 

The sock visual struck Parks while he was at church, a common place for him to get inspiration for films. While exploring that idea, Parks realized he wanted to write about l o n e l i n e s s and began thinking of story ideas that would showcase it. 

“I had the visual of the socks, that one came to me in church,” Parks said. “I think my mind wanders. It was a visual of socks hanging from a fishing line. Usually, I get a visual like that, but then I decided I wanted to film it. Then I try to think of why that is interesting to me. Then it became looking at loneliness and building the story around that theme.” 

Writing was the easy part, the next steps were more challenging. The casting of the film was done during quarantine, a task much harder than one would think. Due to the restrictions at the time, Parks could only cast college students. 

“For Alfie, it was all about trying to cast within the college because of COVID protocols,” Parks said. “And making sure everyone was safe and just getting a project done under quarantine. It ended up being successful in that way.” 

T h e n c a m e f i l m i n g . “ D e a r e s t Alfie” was filmed in one weekend and, according to Parks, was a difficult time for everyone involved. The weather did not go according to plan, and most of the crew had to stand in the rain for the duration of the filming. 

“We did Friday, Saturday and Sunday of a weekend,” Parks said. “It was freezing and it started sleeting while we were filming. We just kept rolling because we didn’t have any other shooting time. That was such an agonizing shoot for everyone involved. The creek that is in front of the little shack, I kept falling into. I think I fell into it three times. We were just out in the cold, trying to get this project done.” 

Filming for a movie is not a project for just one or two, it is a group effort. The films that viewers see on screen take numerous people to get a cohesive narrative that an audience can enjoy. 

“It takes so many p e o p l e , ” Parks said. “You need a director of photography who makes sure it looks good. You have a director who makes sure the actors are doing the right thing. You’ve got a producer who is there to make sure everyone is okay and safe. You have someone who must make sure continuity is correct and the shots are working together. You have a props master. There’s a lot of moving parts in a film.” 

Parks’s movie wrapped up filming and he then spent time editing it together. Eventually, the film was completed and he sent it off to RIFF to be accepted. “Dearest Alfie” will play at RIFF and can also be found on Viking Fusion’s YouTube page. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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