High Hopes for The Tall

Although DSU is primarily known for teaching students computer skills, that is certainly not the only kind of skill that is seen on campus. There is also a thriving arts community, which was showcased recently when a film showing was held for the short film The Tall, a project created by Max Hardyk and Tate Mohlenkamp, senior Film and Cinematic Arts students at DSU.

I had the opportunity to talk to Hardyk about the film as well as see it for myself. He gave me a little bit of his background as a student and filmmaker: “I am actively involved in the DSU Community, as I am an RA, student ambassador, and the Vice President of the LCA Film Club with constantly getting myself involved with the community. I have created more than 30 film related projects, most of them in collaboration with the President of the LCA Film Club, my good friend, Tate Mohlenkamp. When I was little, I was always infatuated with films and animation. I had started making films in my freshman year of high school, and this eventually brought me to pursue a career as a filmmaker.”

The Tall is a pilot concept for a post-apocalyptic TV show. Hardyk described, “The Tall is about a man named David who is struggling to hold onto his sanity and moral values after giant enigmatic beings appeared mysteriously, causing the apocalypse. David tries to move on but finds it hard to after suffering the loss of his wife, Claire. After getting captured by a savage group called The Hunters, he eventually learns what the new world has come to and teams up with Noah, another victim of the apocalypse. David must choose to either abandon his morals and adapt to the new world or hold on until his time runs out.”

When I watched The Tall, I found it intriguing. The pacing was good, alternating between suspenseful, slower scenes and fast-paced action. The pilot brings up many moral questions of survival which I enjoyed, since I personally think the best shows always address real-world questions, even when set in futuristic or fantasy settings. The atmosphere of the show was also good, with immersive sound design and lighting that really drew me in to the story. Hardyk explained that The Tall was inspired by The Walking Dead as well as other sci-fi stories.

When asked about how many people were involved in the making of the film, Hardyk said, that there were at least 40 people who helped with the project. He stated that the LCA Film Club at DSU was a significant part of the process but that they also had a lot of support from the community. He continued, “My favorite thing about the entire process was getting a huge portion of the community involved to help create something special. Nothing like this has ever been done before at DSU and I’m happy that we were all able to have a fun experience and make something amazing happen together as a community.”

I enjoyed getting to hear him talk about some of the highlights of the film for him. “Personally, my favorite thing about the film is the opening credits. It was honestly a last-minute thing we decided to do, but it ended up being my favorite thing to do. When making an opening credit sequence, you need a song that will perfectly capture the mood of your movie/show. When I made the song concept, I knew what I wanted. Xander Morrison [a senior Digital Sound Design student] helped me make it even better than I imagined. The opener has so many emotions in it – Loss, dread, the light of hope, and nostalgic elements are all within it. And it’s my favorite addition to it. It’s what helps make The TallThe Tall!”

Finally, I asked what his future hopes were for this project.  He stated, “I hope that this Pilot Concept will get picked up by a studio and that we can progress the show further…. There’s still so much to see for the future of the project and I hope we can see it come to light!” After having my interest piqued by the pilot, I completely agree. This project has so much potential and I would love to see a project created by one of my peers be transformed into something bigger.

It was so great to be able to see a project from fellow students at DSU that had the quality of The Tall. I look forward to seeing more work from Hardyk and his collaborators in the future.