Through the lens

Local filmmaker earns
critical acclaim at festival

Director’s short film about
a soda can is creating a “buzz”

By Lori Crowe
Contributing Writer

(October 2005) CRESTWOOD, Ky. – Sean Wathen is seeing his dream of filmmaking become a reality. However, the Crestwood native admitted it does not seem real to him. “I still don’t feel like a filmmaker. People respond positively to what I do and always ask what I’ve done. Now I can say I’ve been in a festival.”

Sean Wathen

Photo provided

Crestwood’s Sean Wathen
has begun work on his next film, “Red.”

His short production, “Can,” debuted at the Bluegrass Independent Film Festival on Sept. 9-11 at the Oldham County Arts Center.
“Can” is a 20-minute dark comedy about a soda can that struggles with the human emotions of love and jealousy. The empty can, brought to life by a lightning strike, sets out to find the woman who drank him and is ultimately faced with disappointment and rejection.
The idea was born when Wathen was standing in a mini-mart to make a purchase. While admiring all the items in the store, he thought it would be easy to make a film starring an inanimate object. The bigger challenge, he quickly realized, was making an audience care for that faceless object.
“We sent ‘Can’ into the Bluegrass Festival for fun. It was really meant to show family and then go on the shelf. I was shocked it was chosen.”
The crew flew in from Florida and California for the occasion. “Being in the Bluegrass Festival was a big deal. We really enjoyed ourselves.”
“Some people came up to me and said, ‘Oh, you’re the ‘Can’ guy! I loved your movie!’ It was a great feeling,” said Wathen, 23. “I think it will all sink in when I’ve spent more and really put my whole heart into it.”
It was no surprise that Wathen would become a filmmaker. As early as grade school, Wathen and his friends created elaborate story lines for their toys that graduated into live action play with full costumes and sets. Filmmaking began when a friend inherited a video camera.
“I’ve heard his friends say he is a perfectionist,” said his mother, Ruth Wathen. “Everything has to be just perfect. He’ll do it again and again until it is.”
Wathen’s parents, Mike and Ruth Wathen, have encouraged his dreams. “They’ve been very supportive,” Wathen said. His mother laughed as she remembered the time he confided he wanted to be a filmmaker. Their first response was candid. “Can you make any money at that?”
Wathen added, “We’ve always tried to encourage our boys. They were so enthusiastic about their creativity. We’re very proud.”
Wathen has studied film at four schools since graduating in 2000 from St. Xavier in Louisville, Ky. He graduated in June with an associate’s degree in filmmaking from Fullsail Real World Education outside Orlando, Fla. He plans to return this fall for a bachelor’s degree.
Wathen said he feels fortunate to have formed relationships at Fullsail with other students who are busy creating and producing. “At school, there is a lot of talk, but no one does it. I’m really lucky to have found the ones that do.”
One such friendship has been with friend and co-
director Mark Dennebaum from Pittsburg, Pa. The two have created films together since they were placed on the same film project in school. Working together has been a success because they think so much alike.
“Whenever I need advice for an ending or whatever, he’s there with a great idea and vice-versa,” said Wathen.
Wathen and Dennebaum have participated in 48-hour film festivals in Florida but said being invited to the Bluegrass Film Festival was much more important. According to Wathen, there is no pre-judging. A crew signs up to be involved in those smaller festivals.
Jay Broder, Bluegrass Independent Film Festival director, previewed Wathen’s submission months ago when he and several judges selected it and 69 others to screen. Broder received more than 200 online entries from all over the world and admitted he did not know Wathen was from Crestwood until the weekend of the Festival.
“It was really interesting to discover he was from around here,” said Broder, who also serves as the president of the Oldham County Arts Association, which planned the film festival.
Broder said Wathen and his crew exhibited much talent. “His creativeness and the quality of his work came across to the audience. Very, very good.”
He added, “Sean is a budding filmmaker, and I’m sure there are big things to come in his life.”

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