CWC Alumna Wins Wyoming Film Festival
November 4, 2019 by Tori Stanek
Central Wyoming College alumna Falon McCormick won Best Wyoming Film with her 3-minute short, “Addiction,” at the 307 Film Festival in Laramie on Aug. 25. In portraying some of the struggles with addiction she’d witnessed firsthand, McCormick selected the difficult subject matter for her film.
“A girl my mom helped raise, who was like a sister to me, became addicted to meth,” McCormick said. “When she was sober, she would tell me what it was like going on inside her head. I watched her eat loads of candy and deal with her triggers. I decided to capture that and personify the battle in her mind.”
The film was a culmination of four semesters of study and production. After writing the scene, hiring a crew, working on set and editing the film footage, McCormick submitted her completed work to the annual 307 Film Festival in Laramie.
“I was just hoping that maybe my film was good enough to be selected,” she said. It was good enough and on Aug. 25, McCormick received Best Wyoming Film, a trophy and $500 at the festival.
Using complex subject matter was not new to McCormick, who regularly sends important messages with her creative work.
“I deal a lot with mental health and things that spread awareness,” she said. “A lot of the work is straight and to the point—even if it’s brutal. This is my way of expressing myself.”
According to CWC instructor, Jeremy Nielsen, McCormick’s direct approach to the art form is exactly what the industry needs.
The film business has historically been the realm of men, and—while that is changing—it is changing slowly. Falon is an excellent representative of the storytelling power of female artists, and she had a unique perspective in her approach to her story. ”
Jeremy Nielsen, CWC professor of film
While she had taken an audio-visual production course as a freshman in high school, McCormick said it wasn’t until her junior or senior year that she seriously began to consider filmmaking.
“I thought to myself, ‘I would be happy if I did this for a living,’” she said.
McCormick originally planned to attend college in Powell, because she was unaware of the CWC film program. However, after hearing about Nielson’s courses, McCormick moved to Riverton to pursue her Associate of Arts in Film. At CWC, McCormick enjoyed working both with Nielsen and TV/Broadcasting Professor Amanda Nicholoff.
“Jeremy made sure my visions came true and worked hard with me and all my life obstacles,” she said. “Amanda was there for me on my bad days and reminded me to keep my head up and keep pushing.”
McCormick’s peers enjoyed working with her as well. CWC alumnus Logan Kay edited “Addiction” and said he hopes to work with McCormick again in the future.
“Working with Falon was great,” he said. “This project was particularly fun because we did it in class…We got to learn everything, then we got to do it. We grew in film together.”
Kay said he and McCormick primarily focused on applying the vertigo effect to a particular scene. He was able to edit the footage to make it appear as though the camera zooms out on the actress and in on the background simultaneously.
“That was by far the most challenging, but a fun edit to do,” Kay said. “After that shot was finished, I pretty much got free range on editing it in such a way to make the audience uncomfortable.”
While working on “Addiction,” other members of McCormick’s 10-person crew noted she had a unique approach to directorship.
“I was told I wasn’t a normal director,” McCormick said. “I was in the action and helping people set up and move things when I was supposed to just be telling people what to do. I’m a helper—I have a hard time just sitting there while others do the work.”
While she said she hasn’t started writing her next project yet, McCormick is still focusing on working creatively. After graduating in 2018, she returned to her hometown in Casper where she works as a substitute teacher, caretaker and photographer.
McCormick anticipates her next project will involve struggles with a different mental disorder and she intends to pursue film out of state. However, McCormick said her time at CWC taught her how to express herself and achieve her goals, and this chapter might not be quite over for her.
“There is a chance I may want to return to CWC and receive my new media degree, but I’m not sure yet,” she said.