Junior Experimental Film Screens in US and UK
Caught the Bug (2022), an experimental film made by Amelia Wyeth Ponirakis ’23 in her junior year has screened in London and New York.
The Filmmaking Bug
Amelia Wyeth Ponirakis ’23 first fell in love with filmmaking when she made stop-animation and live sketch films as a child with her family.
She’s long been inspired by surrealist and experimental filmmakers, including Michel Gondry who made her favorite film of all time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), and now her own experimental film has been screening in the US and the UK.
Caught the Bug (2022), a film Ponirakis made during her junior year in Assistant Professor Joel Neville Anderson’s Experimental Film Workshop, has screened at London’s IKLECTIK twice, in the Exploding Cinema and Darkroom Film Festival, the Buffalo International Film Festival (BIFF) as part of the Student Shorts program, and the Hudson Valley Film Fest, hosted at the Warwick NY Drive-In.
Ponirakis flourished in the environment found in Anderson’s class. “It felt really freeing for me as a filmmaker to explore new territory when it came to honing in on my craft and the tone of what I set out to create,” she says.
Caught the Bug tells the story of a young woman who comes down with a mysterious illness that infests upon her stomach, which is hyper-visualized through a crochet structure featuring stop-motion animated insects. The film comprises multiple formats such as super 8mm, digital stop-motion, and 16mm direct animation, another outcome of the Anderson’s film class.
“I was also able to embrace working with film as a material and make projects utilizing analog filmmaking techniques and animation,” she says.
Looking back, Ponirakis appreciates the people and the collaborative culture on campus, which made it possible for her to “find like-minded people beyond the film conservatory to collaborate on projects. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with students within the music and theater conservatories as well as a student in New Media.”
On Caught the Bug, her collaborators included Ruby Soudant ’25 (Film), who composed the ambient score, Emma Jakubik ’23 (New Media) was the production designer and co-animator, and Lucas Neufeld ’22 (Film) was the producer.
“Coming from a small town in Upstate NY it was such a culture shock to meet people with differing backgrounds from mine,” she says. “There was always something to do and people to meet, so for that I am grateful and will miss it a lot.”
After graduation, Ponirakis plans to prepare her senior thesis film, Blue Light, for screenings in 2024. Longer term, she hopes to direct music videos for musicians, work in the art department on films and commercials, and travel.
Amelia Ponirakis ’23