Student medieval short film premieres Saturday at the Russell Union

Emma Smith

Movie night at Russell Union is a popular activity among students at Georgia Southern University, but this Saturday something a little different from what students are used to seeing will come to the big screen.

“A Year and a Day,” written and directed by Apple Man Productions founder Connor Rentz, junior multimedia film and production major, will premiere at the Russell Union Theater on Jan. 13 at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A panel with some of the cast and crew.

Tale of a runaway serf

“A Year and a Day” is a 25-minute film set in England during the Black Plague era. The storyline is centered around a serf named Jolee, played by Lena Bledsoe.

In the film, Jolee is on the run from her town in hopes of remaining uncaptured for a year and a day in order to be freed from serfdom. She is hunted down by a man from her past named Arin, played by GS student Joey Simon.

Meanwhile, Arin faces some issues with his father and serf-owner Lord Ulric, played by John Parcels, former English and philosophy professor.

The making of “A Year and a Day”

According to its press release, production for the film began in November of 2016. It was shot entirely in Georgia, around Macon and Helen.

It was produced by Director of Photography David Besh and longtime Apple Man Productions contributor Alex Smith. Several other GS students were involved in the making of the film, including Elias Delvasto, Madison Bunker, Michael Houston and drone pilot Noah Lambert of Cross Aerial Photography.

“Watching the film is so much more rewarding when you discover how the story is told and who the characters really are as the film progresses,” Rentz said.

A Year and a Day is the seventh film produced by Apple Man Productions, which Rentz founded in the summer of 2015 right before he started college. He said his goal is to make it into an independent production company.

“The biggest projects I have done have been the narrative films produced for Apple Man,” Rentz said. “A Year and a Day is definitely the biggest film for the company thus far and puts us in a great direction.”

Rentz has won multiple awards for his work, including Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects and one of the four Jury Awards of Campus MovieFest for his 2015 silent short film Spectrum. His 2017 sci-fi short film Point Seven-Three also won a Jury Award, and the film’s lead actor J. Manning Smith-Tate won Best Performance.

Thoughts from the actors

Simon, a senior multimedia film and production major, has worked on about five films in 2017 alone, but says his role in A Year and a Day has been unlike the rest.

“I’ve been acting for six and a half years and that character was the most emotionally complex I’ve ever played,” Simon said. “It truly was a challenge but I grew so much from it. I also got to do an accent and grow out my hair and beard for it.”

Parcels says his favorite part of being in A Year and a Day was collaborating with the cast and crew.

“I get a high from excellence and they were all giving their best,” Parcels said.

The most difficult part of filming, in Parcels’ opinion, was the automated dialogue replacement.

“I found it difficult to recapture the emotion and sound authentic while trying to synch with the video,” Parcels said. “God bless Connor Rentz for his patience, but it was a good learning experience.”

You can find out more about A Year and a Day from its IMDb page.