Student Wins Recognition For Short Film at KC Film Festival

Thursday, April 25, 2019
David Walter and crew during a film shoot

Right before the start of the fall 2018 semester, junior David Walter crammed somewhere around a hundred people into his Kansas City home, all crowded around a tiny TV to watch the culmination of his summer vacation.

It was the premiere of the English and philosophy major’s 16-minute short film, titled One Night, the backup plan for a rained-out outdoor screening that Walter said would have been a perfect fit for the mood of his movie.

Now, amidst the famously rainy month of April, Walter again sat in a dark room (this one bigger, with more strangers) for a screening at the Kansas City Film Festival International, during which One Night’s cast and crew took home the Best Heartland College Student Short award, and Walter himself earned the Fred G. Andrews Emerging Filmmaker Award.

A filmmaker generally hopes to make some sort of connection, but Walter said he was surprised by the recognition the film received.

“I actually was in St. Louis, and I got a text that said that we had won two awards,” he said. “It was really strange. I think it was an affirmation that the work that I was doing was important to somebody other than me.”

One Night grew out of Walter’s longtime passion for filmmaking. He taught himself nearly all aspects of the process, making films since he was 16 with cameras borrowed from his older brothers between wedding photography gigs. At some point, he and two of his siblings launched Walter Bros. Pictures (Walter makes clear the name is a play on Warner Bros., since one of the partners is his sister), a full-service production unit for music videos, corporate films and narrative shorts. The experience of producing films for hire helped hone his technical skills.

The story for One Night itself draws on experiences Walter said he has had as a college student running into classmates from high school — how bonds or friendships change over time, or sometimes disappear entirely.

“I was trying to talk and think about how relationships can still be important and have value even if they don’t last forever,” he said.

Walter and a writing partner developed the script for the 16-minute film in June last year, with casting, filming and editing following soon after. He spent a lot of time with One Night — about 15 hours of work for each minute that ends up onscreen. And with scenes shot at Kansas City landmarks such as the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Liberty Memorial, Walter said his hometown is like a character in the film.

In other words, this was a very personal effort. That’s why Walter said he was surprised when he sat down for the question and answer session following the screening and the questions kept coming about all aspects of the filmmaking process.

“I was not expecting that at all,” he said. “People were walking up to me and saying, ‘That’s me.’ I thought that was so cool — when you ask the audience for their attention, you want to be able to deliver something back.”

One Night is viewable on Youtube, and Walter said the film is scheduled to be shown as part of the First Friday Film Festival on May 3 at the Musical Theater Heritage theater in Crown Center.