“Tampsen Air,” the episodic film project that many Stephens College digital filmmaking students helped produce during Stephens Film Institute 2018, has been nominated for Best TV Pilot by the New York City Independent Film Festival.

“I was so thrilled to be selected into the festival — so you can imagine how I felt when we were nominated for Best TV Pilot,” said Chase Thompson, the TV show’s director/writer and associate professor of film at Stephens. He is representing the College at the festival, which runs May 5-12.  

“Tampsen Air” made its hometown debut in Columbia, Mo., at the 15th Annual Stephens Student Film Showcase on May 3.

Ayanna Smith ’19 is among the Stephens students who benefited from working on the film’s crew last summer. She served as the film’s assistant producer, which involved everything from securing locations to figuring out the meals on set. She also assisted with scheduling and was a part of the class that built both film sets.

“Working with professional filmmakers, you get a glimpse of what it’s truly like to work in a professional setting, but with the safety net of knowing that if you make a mistake, it’s OK,” she said. “It was truly an amazing experience for which I am very grateful.”


About the Summer Film Institute

Summer Film Institute (SFI) is a biannual one-week intensive where students work alongside fellow filmmakers and professionals to produce a short film during the latter half of the spring semester and summer.

“Active learning is who we are,” Thompson said. “Our students start making films their first semester and SFI is a way to bring all grade levels together and make a film with their teachers and professionals from the film industry. SFI brings the film set experience to them. It’s invaluable to their development as filmmakers.”

Students also learn how to run a successful online fundraising campaign for their own future film projects.

“Many students will be seeking funds for their future films after graduation through crowdfunding,” Thompson said. “It is extremely valuable for them to research patterns of successful campaigns and launch one for SFI before doing one of their own.”

Smith, who will graduate later this week with a degree in digital filmmaking, said that she was grateful for the SFI experience, which taught her the proper way to act on set.

“They really showed me that there is a balance that needs to be at play,” she said. “You have to respect the director and his choices, but if you think of something that might enhance the film, you can share that idea; it just needs to be at the right time.”

Smith said that Stephens has taught her to be a hard worker and that you will only get out what you put in.

“Independent film is all about making the most out of what little you have, and I think I have done just that,” she said. “I also think the faculty encouraged me to fail, but then reflect and learn from those mistakes, and come back with something stronger.”


About "Tampsen Air"

“Tampsen Air” is no stranger to national attention. In April, the TV pilot made its world premiere at the Kansas City Film Festival International, and later this month, it will be screened at the Denver Pop Culture Convention.

According to the film’s synopsis, “Tampsen Air is just another low-flying, rogue airline. In a custom DC-3, Tampsen and his crew of outsiders stumble across the sky searching for Tampsen’s long lost love, Millie. With FAA Super Agent McCargo hot on Tampsen’s trail, flying conditions continue to go from bad to worse.” Among the cast are Rob Doyen (who plays “Tampsen”), a Stephens College professor of theatre and Stephens graduate, and Khanisha Foster (who plays “Eagle Eye”), a 2017 Stephens College M.F.A. graduate.

Visit the “Tampsen Air” Facebook page >

About Digital Filmmaking at Stephens

Stephens College offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Filmmaking and a low-residency Master of Fine Arts in TV and Screenwriting. Undergraduate students begin working with professional film equipment their first semester on campus and have many opportunities throughout their time at Stephens to write, produce and direct their own original films. In Stephens’ low-residency two-year program, M.F.A. students come to Los Angeles twice a year for 10-day classes and workshops at the beautiful Jim Henson Studio. Between workshops, students work one-on-one online with at least four different mentors over two years.

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