University of South Carolina

Creative-editing award goes to first-time student filmmaker

University of South Carolina senior Clayton Tilley’s short film has been selected from among a dozen finalists for the second Moving Image Research Collection (MIRC) Award for Creative Editing (ACE).

Tilley is a journalism major from Traveler’s Rest and the son of Mike and Marie Tilley.

The award celebrates innovative use of archival film footage in “The Moving Image,” a media-arts course that introduces undergraduates to all aspects of film and video production.

“In my film, I used the Kuleshov effect, a montage effect based on a psychological study that was first used by Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov in the 1920s,” Tilley said. “The project also gave me the chance to use Final Cut, a professional film editing software that I hadn’t worked with before.”

Tilley, who had never heard of the USC’s Moving Image Research Collection before taking the class, marveled at the resource.

“Our school is privileged to have so much history at its fingertips,” he said.

MIRC’s interim director Mark Cooper agreed.

“The archive exists to preserve these resources so that they may continue to inspire audiences and nurture creative talent,” he said.

For the class project, faculty members Dr. Laura Kissel and Dr. Jennifer Tarr selected film clips from the Fox Movietone News Collection to teach aesthetic principles of editing and to develop technical skills in working with editing software.

“Using MIRC footage allowes us to achieve some learning objectives, and it enables us to introduce students to one of the marvelous film collections housed at the University of South Carolina,” said Kissell, an associate professor of media arts and director of the Media and Film Studies Program.

Tarr said archival footage is useful as a teaching tool for beginning students because it encourages them to compare their own interests and objectives with those of the original filmmakers.

“We look for varying subjects but wanted images with action and movement in them,” said Tarr, a media-arts instructor. “We try to avoid images that would dictate the message too obviously.”

Students complete films of about a minute in length. Entries are judged on the effectiveness with which students use editing to establish graphical, rhythmic and spatial relationships on screen.

For a first-time filmmaker, the exercise proved a lesson in patience. Tilley offers advice for anyone working with archival footage.

“Keep watching, even if it seems it’s going nowhere, because inspiration can be found in something as small as a facial expression,” he said.

A unit of the University Libraries, MIRC welcomes use of its collections. Located at 707 Catawba St., MIRC is open to the public weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. More than 3,000 hours of rare archival material are available to view on videocassette and DVD.

Jarid Munsch, also a senior journalism major, won the first MIRC ACE in Fall 2010. View the winning MIRC ACE films at

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 03/04/11 @ 5:20 PM | Updated: 03/04/11 @ 5:24 PM | Permalink