Film major’s work qualifies for South by Southwest Music and Film Festival

Reporter and Reporter

University film production major Ben Measor first met Bob Putka in a media production class at Cuyahoga Valley Career Center his junior year in high school. They struck a friendship and made their first film together shortly after graduation. They called it “Hooka Face and the Virgin Boy.”

“It’s about an 18-year-old who just turned 18 and graduated high school and wants to take his last step from innocence,” Measor said. “So he orders a hooker for the night and gets a hotel room and then it’s about the sort of awkwardness that ensues.”

Currently Measor is a senior at the University and he and Putka, a student at Cuyahoga Community College, are still collaborating. In April 2011, the two put together their second film: “Mouthful.”

If the title of the first film raises your eyebrows to the second film’s subject  — trust your instincts.

“It’s about honesty in a relationship and how sometimes it isn’t necessarily the best course of action,” Measor said. “The movie opens up with the boyfriend asking the girlfriend what she thinks about his size and asks her to compare it to her ex. From there on … it kind of leads them down a path to relationship hell.”

The film focuses on a male character named Bobby who, with his pants down, displays his assets package to his female partner, Bliss, and requests a comparison to her former boyfriend’s. Bliss’s answer isn’t quite the response Bobby wants.

“It was based on a personal experience I had that while in the moment seemed very important and high stakes,” Putka said. “Removed from the moment it seemed a little ridiculous.”

While at first glance the subject may not seem like artistic material, officials at this year’s South by Southwest Music and Film Festival (SXSW, for short) in Austin, Texas disagreed. The film was one of thousands submitted for application to the festival, Measor said, and of those thousands approximately thirty are selected for competition. “Mouthful” was among those thirty and was screened at the festival from March 11-17.

It was Putka who received the actual phone call from the festival announcing their acceptance.

“[Bob] gave me the call the day of and then your mindset’s racing thinking, ‘OK, now what’s the next step,” Measor said. “There was definitely the jumping up and down and cheering in my mind, but then we pretty much just got right down to business.”

To fund travel and promotional costs for the festival, Measor and the rest of his production team, C-Town Film Factory, needed an additional $2,000 dollars on top of the $10,000 spent producing the film. They turned to the fundrasing site and received $2,700 in donations.

Though the film did not win the competition at SXSW, Measor said it was well received and the trip allowed him to make connections within the industry. Despite the lack of financial returns on the film, Measor would not hesitate to do it again.

“At this point in any filmmaker’s career you’ve kind of got to be spending more money at the beginning to sort of launch your career,” he said.

The film was also accepted into five other festivals: Vale Film Festival in Colorado, Boston Underground Film Festival (from which it took grand prize), LA Comedic Shorts Film Festival, Florida Film Festival and Athens International Film Festival in Athens, Ohio.

Also involved in the project was fellow film production major and senior Phil Hirzel. Hirzel provided music on the film.

“For me it was really cool because South by Southwest started out as a music festival,” he said. “So it was cool to know that there are people there who were hearing my music.”

For Measor, the privilege of the exposure has made it all worth it.

“To be 21 years old and be in [festivals] of this caliber is pretty intense,” he said. “But we’re keeping a good head on our shoulders and taking it one step at a time. That’s all you really can do at this point.”