More than a dozen teams of student filmmakers competed last month in the 18th Annual Ed Wood Film Festival. Most of these teams had only been formed days before the competition. This was not so in the case of one self-described “rag-tag group of underdog come-from-behind college filmmakers” known as the Origami Team. And the Origami Team dared to make more than just a short film for Ed Wood.
At Ed Wood, audience members and filmmakers alike were surprised by a mysterious figure: a man dressed in a gray suit with what appeared to be bloodstains on the collar and a bag on his head reading, “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE.” The man sat in the back of the room and refused to speak a word to anyone. Precisely why the man acted the way he did was a mystery; some guessed it was a bizarre tribute to the recent strange behavior of Shia LaBeouf.
The first film of the night, #iamsorry, answered these questions. The film lampoons LaBeouf’s infamous performance art piece of the same name, showing the stoic Shia sitting down face-to-bag with complete strangers. After facing criticism, anger and even sexual advances from these strangers, Shia goes on a killing spree, with each murder plagiarizing a different classic movie. The film — and the team behind it — wound up taking home the Best Film Editing and Audience Choice awards.
The team behind #iamsorry is no stranger to making movies — or winning awards for them, for that matter. The six members of the team — Rick Cisario, Carter Feuerhelm, Amber Laird, Keenan Mosimann, Elana Zeltser and Daniel Moya as Shia — first banded together last October for Delta Kappa Alpha’s All-Nighter film festival. Prior to the festival, the six had met as freshman film students and had become fast friends. Much like Ed Wood once did, the festival’s challenge was to write, shoot and edit a short film in only 24 hours.
“We started at about 12:30 and finished at 2 [p.m.],” Mosimann said. “With three minutes to go, the video was still exporting,” Feuerhelm added.
Their hard work paid off — the newly dubbed Origami Team took home the All-Nighter’s Best Performances award for its first video, “The Origami Roommate.” In it, Moya enlists Cisario’s help to solve the mystery of who dropped his towel into the mess that is a New/North bathroom floor. The team used no script, only a basic outline of what they thought would happen. The improvised performances give the film an energy and spontaneity that show through in the final product.
“We made a rule as a group that we would never use a script,” Moya said. “At 4 a.m., something is always funnier than what you had written.”
As far as the name goes, the group intentionally chose a bizarre, meaningless name just to keep audiences guessing.
“We tried to come up with the most random name possible, and I said, ‘Cow Time,’” Mosimann said. They eventually settled on “The Origami Roommate” for their first video, with the Origami Team referring to the group itself.
“We wanted something that’s just cryptic enough that there could be meaning there, but we didn’t have one,” Moya added.
After the All-Nighter, the group decided to continue making videos. Their second video, “Origami Halloween,” was even longer and more ambitious than their debut. Over the course of the fall semester, the Origami Team released a total of seven videos, each one receiving several thousand views. Plots range from Cisario releasing a workout video to Mosimann meticulously stealing Moya’s possessions one by one to Moya locking himself away from all human contact.
One member of the team is already familiar with YouTube success. Mosimann, known online as Criken2, has a video gaming channel with more than 470,000 subscribers. Several of his videos receiving several million views. Mosimann, however, refused to use his existing Internet fame to promote the Origami Team.
“I want to see how the Origami Team does independently first,” Mosimann said. “I want this to be its own entity.”
Since the new semester began, the Origami Team has improved its craft and experimented with different stories. “The Origami Compassion” shows the team venturing into drama for the first time, while #iamsorry shows a level of excellence in editing, camera work and acting that demonstrates the group’s growing skills as filmmakers. And, they show no signs of stopping.
“There’s a lot of ideas that we have saved and that we look forward to making,” Mosimann said. “We’re all living together next year, so we’ll have that much more freedom to make more videos.”
Despite the group’s growing popularity and success, they have not lost track of what ultimately guides everything they make: the desire to entertain.
“There’s no greater feeling in the world than someone saying that they looked at something that you made and liked it,” Feuerhelm said.