UAB English Major Wins Best Student Film at Sidewalk 2015

If you’re not making discoveries, something is wrong, says UAB English major Kelsey Harrison, winner of the 17th Annual Sidewalk Film Festival's “Best Student Film” for her work “Coming and Going.”
If you’re not making discoveries, something is wrong, says UAB English major Kelsey Harrison, winner of the 17th Annual Sidewalk Film Festival's “Best Student Film” for her work “Coming and Going.” The award was announced Aug. 30 at the festival.

“Coming and Going” is an experimental short-film delving into the anxieties of a young woman as she waits on a friend at a bus stop. It’s Harrison’s first film.

Kelsey HarrisonKelsey Harrison (Photo courtesy of Kelsey Harrison)“It’s kind of about this push and pull between arriving places and leaving,” says Harrison. “And the character herself is in this weird limbo waiting for somebody to arrive.”

“She’s in the place she used to live, but she doesn't live there anymore,” Harrison says. “And she’s waiting at the bus stop and thinking about the places she’s left. The places she’s come. And kind of the changes of life in general.”

Harrison, a graduate of the Alabama School of Fine Arts, says the film mirrors her own life. She isn’t new to packing up her life and moving on, since she’s previously lived in New York and Memphis before coming to Birmingham.

“Coming to terms with transformation, this inevitable change, the ephemerality of so many things in my life and the world— these are the themes that have always been really close to me,” she says.

Harrison knew two things going into the project. One, the story would focus on the fear of change. The film features  many images related to transportation, transition, and nature that, according to Harrison, emphasize a connection between deterioration, new life, and opportunity.

“There’s a kind of beauty in that not knowing and in that change and decay because there’s life that comes out of it as well,” she says.

Two, the film would be heavily edited with overlapping and fragmented frames, but as a first-time filmmaker, Harrison struggled with finding music, collecting audio, directing, and translating her ideas to the screen.

“There’s some footage I used that is candid, but then there’s some footage that was directed,” said Harrison.  “You have an idea in your head and you think, ‘This is going to translate really well, and the other person is going to know exactly what I’m talking about.’ That was something I kind of had to work with.”

Harrison filmed the project for the interdisciplinary class “Memoir in Writing and Film,” taught by Kerry Madden, associate professor in the Department of English and Michele Forman, director of the Media Studies program in the Department of History.

Anyone interested in seeing the film can contact Harrison at kelseygh@uab.edu.
Kayla McLaughlin is a 2015-2016 UAB Digital Media fellow and an English and Communications student with a concentration in creative writing.

Student Achievement