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Honors Tutorial College

Student Spotlight: Luke Szabados

Alisa Warren | Oct 21, 2015
A still from Luke Szabados's film, The Rubric Timestamped, which played at a Paris film festival on Oct. 16.
A still from Luke Szabados's film, The Rubric Timestamped, which played at a Paris film festival on Oct. 16.

Luke Szabados transformed a single, reoccurring image in his mind into a film — one that took its recognition all the way to Paris.

Szabados, a senior studying film in the Honors Tutorial College, had his film, The Rubric Timestamped, accepted into the Festival Des Cinémas Differents, a film festival in October focusing on showcasing independent, experimental cinema.

Thrilled to have his work internationally recognized, Szabados was also delighted that the film he had been working on since his sophomore year of college was played in Paris on Oct. 16, his birthday.

The official description of the film states: “Situated within a nightmare of elegance and pain, a herd of men and women cultivate bare farmland with no end in sight. They wash their hands and return to work. When the spigot is commandeered, they collapse in the magnetizing pleasure of losing control.”

Extending beyond its official description, Szabados explained that the film is something that changed shapes over the course of its year-long production, and is a reflection of his growth as a person during that time.

“So this film started about middle of my sophomore year,” he said. “It started with a single image of a bunch of people working, kind of toiling in a field. And so that idea was kind of dominating a lot of my imaginations around that time.”

He said that his vision was to change the image from something that can be seen rather than just a photograph, and began working his thoughts through an experimental process. This process resulted in a final product that turned itself into one that is completely different from the original thought.

“I look back and it’s interesting to see a lot of personality in it that is a lot different from what I would approach now,” Szabados said. “It feels like a real stamp on just the things I was thinking intellectually, emotionally at the time; so I feel like for me, it’s like looking at a photograph that you took a long time ago. You see yourself in kind of a different light and you see how you’ve grown.”

Some of the film’s personality he describes can be observed in what was then a call to adapt, when he was challenged by camera mistakes and other unexpected roadblocks. However, he realized that such quirks were perfect for the film, syncing in harmony and acting as a portion of the film’s recipe, he said.

The experimental style of Szabados is exhibited in his use of creative transitions, such as in a scene beginning at a royal staircase, morphing into a full sequence of the people working in a field at the top it. He also noted his unconventional sounds and effects used to tie the scenes together, some of them created by makeshift instruments.

“When I was editing it, I chose certain sounds that seemed right, that wouldn’t necessarily be in that department of thought,” he said. “We used sounds like church bells, and my friend used a PVC pipe to make a really interesting didgeridoo, which we recorded in the statehouse. So bringing that into film kind of brought different aspects into it where I thought this feels like a very raw way of performing music.”

Szabados added that the unique qualities of the final product were thanks to the collaboration of his friends, fellow classmates and faculty members, who all brought their own interpretations of characters into the editing process.

“I think what is fascinating about film is that it encompasses so many different forms of creativity,” he said. “I think it’s amazing how many different parts and stages all collect into one. It’s really an amazing medium because it’s so collaborative.”

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