Local film selected for Milwaukee Film Festival -…
Chippewa Valley filmmaker Tim Schwagel is no stranger to having his films hit the festival circuit, and his latest short earned him his first-ever spot at the Milwaukee International Short Film Festival.
Schwagel has worked on various film projects, not only as a director, but also as an editor and screenwriter, expanding outside of his own work and even outside of traditional film, directing among others the music video “Midnight Manifestos by The Coulee Boys.
His last movie, Blossom and the Decrepit Man, features Eau Claire natives Reanna Madson and Ben Schmitz, focusing on a crisp, intimidating ticking sound and what it might drive as Madson’s character faces her – literally – in a forest. dark. At just under three minutes, the short shudders with suspense, with a touch of Schwagel at the end.
Unlike his other work, this film was shot in just a few hours, all in one day, with little pre-production work in order to challenge himself and the film’s crew members.
“A group of us (who worked on the short) learned how to do some cinematic stuff at the 48 Hour Film Festival in (UW-Eau Claire), so we did it really fast and didn’t haven’t given too much thought,” Schwagel explained. “We wanted to do that again, where you just have an idea and go.”
Taking on a one-day movie shoot would have been enough of a challenge, but of course Mother Nature had to step in as well. It rained intermittently for most of the day, pushing the crew’s departure time back by several hours, and there was a downpour as they captured their final shots.
Although very excited for Blossom and the Decrepit Man to appear at the MKE Short Film Festival, Schwagel was pleasantly surprised that the short also received a nod from Film Shortage as one of their “Best Picks of the Month”.
“I just wanted to release something when it was done instead of waiting and putting it through festivals because usually if you want to submit to bigger (film festivals) you can’t have it. online or show it somewhere else,” Schwagel explained. .
He noted how to release Blossom and the Decrepit Man as soon as it reached its final cut had its “pros and cons”, describing how great it was to just be able to release it so people could see it quickly, but missed the chance to see it on the big screen and to catch viewers’ reactions live.
He will be making a trip to Milwaukee for the MKE Festival for this reason. “It’s just not the same thing, knowing people are seeing it or actually feeling the energy in the room.”
Madson and Schmitz have appeared regularly in Schwagel’s previous work: Madson is easily recognizable as the main character in the 2020s Hit me, which did its part in the short film circuit and walked away with a Judge’s Choice Award. Schmitz also participated in many of Schwagel’s works.
“(Schmitz) is in a bunch of my old stuff, like almost all of it. He played a bit, but he should do more because he’s so good,” Schwagel said.
Madson and Schwagel have worked together since attending Eau Claire’s Memorial High, where they were part of the film club. Since then, they’ve run in the same creative circle and each dove headfirst into their own film projects.
Schwagel described how lucky he and the crew know they are, in how they seem to have sidestepped the typical conflicts most crews encounter. When the Hit me went to the Beloit Film Festival several months ago, they had the chance to mingle and talk with other crews. A Chicago-based crew around their age pointed out this unique feature.
“One (from the crew) from Chicago, which has a much larger film community, said ‘How do you deal with egos and all that? And that was a very good question, so we thought about it,” recalls Schwagel. “We were like, ‘We’ve literally never had a problem when it comes to arguing or credits over who did what, or things are inflated.’ You hear about (those things) all the time in the movies, but it’s never been a problem for us, we’re very lucky and all happy to work on each other.
Written and directed by Schwagel and starring Madson and Schmitz, the short was produced by Zach Staads with photography by Nick Houchin and music by Jasmine Janaé Charleston, the band’s only non-local: Her work has appeared in the likes of Lizzo’s new reality show, Watch out for the big Grrrls.
The Milwaukee International Short Film Festival will be held at the Avalon Atmospheric Theater on August 10 and September 10. Blossom and the Decrepit Man will be screened on September 10 alongside a dozen other short films. The films will be judged by a seasoned three-person jury, including Jeff Old, who has worked on Oscar-nominated films such as Titanic, The Avengers, terminatorand more.
Visit the official Tim Schwagel website to watch Blossom and the Decrepit Man and see his other works.