Most filmmakers don’t make it to the Cannes Film Festival through food fight stories, but that’s just one thing that makes UNCG student Brendan Malone unusual.
The sophomore media studies major has yet to do his first in-school filmmaking assignment, but this month he’ll screen his short, “Foodie,” at one of the world’s most noteworthy film venues.
In the fall semester he wrote and directed “Foodie” in the span of a week, as a part of the Campus MovieFest competition. It took three major awards at UNCG—the Audience Award, the Silver Tripod Award for Editing and the Jury Award given to four finalists.
But then came the big news. It was selected to be a part of the Campus MovieFest roster for Cannes 2017, as a part of the Short Film Corner program.
Malone will travel to the festival in southern France with the film’s producer Alex Suggs, who is also a sophomore media studies major at UNCG.
A Greensboro native, Malone attended Bishop McGuinness High School When he started making films, his high school friends liked his ideas, but it was difficult to come up with a complete film crew. He had to hold a few scripts, like “Punchline,” until he got to college and found more people to work with.
At UNCG he met Suggs, who he says is a big motivating force for him, as well as a skilled videographer and a partner in creative decision-making. When Malone has an idea, Suggs starts planning the schedule.
So far, the two have made two short films together, and this summer they will work on a third, “The Red Rockets,” a sports comedy about competitive foosball teams. For their biggest project yet, they may have crew of up to 40 people, many of whom Malone has met through UNCG connections.
Greensboro locations figure prominently in Malone’s films. You can easily spot Nazareth Bread Company in “Foodie,” and several familiar locations in “Punchline”—the Bestway grocery store, the UNCG Pedestrian Underpass, a UNCG parking deck, and Guilford Courthouse National Military Park.
Before coming to UNCG, Malone was 90 percent self-taught, through directing and screenwriting books. He admires DIY-style filmmakers, such as Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater and Kevin Smith. An essential part of his training was also his involvement in Greensboro’s 48-Hour Film Festival. He was on the team of two festival projects where he learned, among other things, “how to sacrifice the idea of perfection in favor of handling the tasks and just getting the project done.”
“Foodie,” the film they will take to Cannes, is a character-based short about a man on a mission to get free food. He participates in a contest that promises a free plate of enormous food with a catch—it has to be eaten in one sitting. The protagonist collects a dedicated audience for his task, but isn’t so courteous to them when he begins to fail at his mission. (Picture food flying toward the onlookers, in the moment of defeat.)
Malone says that “Foodie” was a reflection of what his life felt like at the time—“free if you can finish it.” When his friends and family asked if they could help he said, “I think I’ve got a place for you.” Malone’s father can be seen being hit in the face with a hamburger. His mother, School of Nursing professor Dr. Laurie Kennedy-Malone, can be seen as well in the crowd of bystanders.
When the time comes for Malone to make films as part of his academic studies, he certainly won’t object to that—he’s already connected with UNCG Media Studies professors Matthew Barr and Kevin Wells, who have given him feedback on scripts and advice on shooting.
But initiating and executing his own projects alongside his college courses has given him a distinct motivation.
“There are really no limits,” he says.
Learn more about UNCG Department of Media Studies here.
Watch “Foodie” here.
By Susan Kirby-Smith
Photograph by Martin W. Kane. Brendan Malone (left) and Alex Suggs (right).