Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


‘Reel’ing in competitive edge to amateur film endeavors

Family vacations, college mating habits and the Bible. What do these three things have in common?

Without getting too philosophical, not a whole lot.

Yet at last week’s meeting of 1UP Productions, these were the three topics outlined on the chalkboard of the group’s Humanities classroom.


A quick show of hands divides the room among these topics, and president and founder of 1UP Jonah Egermeier steps forward.

“Everyone set on their topic? Go. Just go.”

The room erupts with the furious scratching of pens, inasmuch as the scratching of pens can be called an eruption. Short blips of laughter and contemplative gazes at nothing in particular punctuate an otherwise constant five minutes of writing. Creative juices are flowing as the room’s ebullient yet focused atmosphere comes to a head.

This is a typical activity at a 1UP Productions meeting, but “free-writing” exercises such as these are just one aspect of the group’s larger goals for developing the creative output of UW-Madison’s student body.

Egermeier, a junior at UW, created 1UP over the summer to fill the need for a place that fosters creativity among budding filmmakers and playwrights.

“I wanted to start getting my feet wet with production experience and leadership, but more than anything I wanted to see more of a film art group on campus here,” Egermeier said.

Right now, 1UP is doing just that: Providing a “for the students, by the students” outlet for UW to develop their ideas into film and stage productions. Of course a major aspect of this is creative development.

“At weekly meetings, people put stuff together as a group, bring in individual products, or just network,” said Kaley Ingenito, 1UP’s vice president of internal development. “It’s pretty cool.”

The free-writing exercises held at meetings are just a part of this development. After everyone has written on their chosen topic of the night, they break off into groups and discuss the hugely different ideas they’ve come up with, even under the same umbrella topic, trying to find some common threads to develop them into one cohesive story.

With a group of artfully minded people, this works itself out in interesting, and often hilarious, ways. Members bounce their story ideas off each other and discuss how ideas can be formulated into bona fide narratives.

Of course, not every story idea born in these sessions gets developed into a full-blown production, but members who want to take their stories to the next level can post screen and stage plays to the group’s website for feedback and further development from members. It’s a very group-oriented approach, but members use that approach for support rather than an implement to step on the toes of a work’s original author.

“It’s free-form with a purpose,” Egermeier said. “Its goal is to just get people thinking together and to be creative together, because it doesn’t seem like our classes are meant for that.”

Of course, aside from the creative aspect, there are many logistical factors involved in getting a production off the ground. Sets, actors and equipment all factor in and can be costly and overwhelming for students interested in developing stage and screen ideas into full productions. Though creative development is an aspect of 1UP, perhaps more important is the group’s ability to help students get over these more administrative hurdles that get between stories and their realization.

“We provide production experience for undergrads and graduates alike, as well as equipment and funding,” Egermeier said.

Though the group just formed this summer, they have already put on two one-act plays and production is underway for material for 1UP’s next major showcase on Dec. 14. Projects right now are largely comedy based, covering topics like the Bible being turned into a porno, a humorous look at Film Noir and a Kung Fu film, though projects covering more serious topics are also in the works.

“A real goal is to create culturally aware material, and we’re currently working on a documentary about a student from Baghdad who is talking about the occupation,” Egermeier said of a film in the works for a future showcase. “It’s going to be pretty topical.”

With stage and screen productions spanning genres and topics like this, 1UP has a healthy foothold in the development of student filmmakers and playwrights. What’s next for the group?

“The goal is to have several films by next year in the Wisconsin Film Festival in good standing,” Egermeier said.

Aside from developing its members film output, 1UP is also looking to expand into other areas. The group is currently host to a sketch comedy troupe, but is looking to develop a second due to the enthusiasm for the first. 1UP is also looking for ways to expand into the realm of creative writing, possibly in the form of a magazine, and several current members have expressed an interest in animation projects.

It’s difficult enough in the competitive entertainment industry to gain meaningful experience. Worrying about exhibiting, coordinating and funding creative efforts by oneself is a daunting task that can understandably leave many would-be filmmakers and playwrights out of their craft. Not being able to bounce your ideas off of like-minded individuals equally committed to your art can be similarly discouraging. It was this lack of outlets that lead Jonah Egermeier to create 1UP Productions for the students, by the students.

“The goal is [for 1UP to] be an extracurricular time to express yourself.”

1UP’s next showcase will be held Dec. 14 in the Union Play Circle.

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