Spinning Onto the Silver Screen: Color Guard Appears in Short Film

Danean Wurlitzer, Reporter

     From Nov. 7 to Nov. 17, the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium held the 39th annual Hawai’i International Film Festival (HIFF). Among the nine short films showcased throughout the festival, the film “Other People” directed by Color Guard Director Bryson Chun, made its debut. Four MHS color guard members were contacted to appear in the nine-minute short film, along with members of the Kamehameha Schools Kapalama (KS Kapalama) color guard.

     “This experience has allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and participate in a project outside of marching band, as well as perform for a completely different audience. As a result, I grew more comfortable as a performer and l learned to be open to new opportunities,” said Junior Isabella Gismundo-Hook.

     Along with Gismundo-Hook, Junior Maria Bongiorno and Seniors Madeline Partin and Kaitlyn Yamaguchi were invited to perform in the background of the short film. This was their first time performing in a short production. “The filming process was such a neat experience because a lot of us had never done anything like that before and we got to see firsthand how a movie is directed and filmed,” said Yamaguchi.

     “Other People” follows a couple as they argue their way through a mall, but abruptly stop to dance when music begins to play. Chun wanted to emphasize the discovery of a relationship and how the joys of music can strengthen a connection between two people, no matter their race, gender or any identity otherwise. “It’s like LGBTQ almost, so I really like that the film talks about how much they disagree, but at the same time dance is the one thing that keeps them together. I think that theme is really special,” said Bongiorno.

     Prior to filming, the guard members from MHS and KS Kapalama had a practice for flag work choreography, taught by KS Kapalama color guard director Christian Luke. This led up to the second practice at the filming location, where they practiced how the actual filming process would go. “That practice was for staging and so we were doing the flag work there with the camera and everything and the director and everyone else,” said Partin.

     Filming took place on Aug. 11 at Windward Mall, with the cast and crew there for roughly six hours to shoot the entirety of the short film. With multiple takes and a limited amount of time, the process was both a challenge and a fun experience for the guard members. “Since we had to film after Windward Mall closed, the filming process ended at around 12:00 a.m. This was a struggle since most of the color guard performers had school the day after filming,” said Gismundo-Hook. Bongiorno added, “The film wasn’t multiple takes; the whole film was one shot, so we had to do the whole thing in one go. That’s why it took a lot of takes to get it right.”

     The filming process didn’t consist of only reshoots and rehearsals, however. Guard members, as well as the rest of the crew, got to enjoy their time after hours at Windward Mall. “This is gonna sound weird, but my favorite memory was the downtime. When they were rehearsing the parts we weren’t in, the color guard people were sitting in the food court and they provided us with really good pizza and there were snacks and everything,” said Partin.

     “Other People” premiered on the second day of HIFF and the guard members who performed in the short film were able to attend. There, they to experience the short production for the first time as an actual film, rather than a project that they worked on. “This short film was important because the director worked so hard on this project to premier it at the Hawai’i International Film Festival,” said Yamaguchi. “It was cool seeing the director’s ideas come to life on the big screen.”

    For the MHS guard members, participating in the short film was an opportunity to broaden their horizons as performers. Since the film revolves around dance and music, the guard members had the chance to not only perform, but also to enjoy themselves through the process. “It’s definitely made me want to perform more and get myself out there, especially because I’m in marching band,” said Bongiorno. “So I think performing and doing something you like is really important.”

     The MHS marching band and color guard completed their competitive season in the fall with their show “Paradise Lost.” In 2020 the Mililani Open Guard will be traveling to Ohio to compete at Winter Guard International.