By: Simon Husted
A light evening rain shower didn’t stop many Buffalonians from gathering down at Days Park on Saturday in order to witness the film-making community’s love for ice cream on wheels.
By 8:40 p.m., the event organizers were ready to showcase the video entries from two finalists to a crowd of over 100 people in the first ever Ice Cream Cycle Film Contest.
The competition, which is hosted by Squeaky Wheel, a non-profit media resource organization, was funded by Ice Cream Salesman Pioneer, James Karagiannis. The contest allowed competing production teams to make and submit any type of film they wanted, as long as the story or plot focused around an Ice Cream Cycle–cleverly named for a bike that is attached to an ice cream cart. Karagiannis operates his business on his own Ice Cream Cycle and since last summer his bike-powered-ice cream cart has become a small business icon of resilience against corporate and bureaucratic red tape.
The first film showcased in the contest, How You Doin’, was produced by an inspiring production team of three actors and one cinematographer. The film’s story surrounds three characters explaining to each other how a demonic ice cream cart attached to a bicycle–otherwise called the Ice Cream Cycle–has turned their afternoon into a bizarre nightmare.
William Miller, the production team’s cinematography, said after watching his team’s film on the big screen that it could’ve used a few tweak, but overall was “happy how it turned out” and enjoyed producing the film.
“I never rode an ice cream cycle before, so that was cool,” said Miller who’s involved in the Squeaky Wheel media program and attends Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts.
“I was proud of ourselves–we did a really great job,” a melodramatic VerNia Sharisse Garvin said. Garvin, who is one of the three actors of the film, also attends Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts.
The second film showcased Saturday, Birthday, was produced by Black Eye Blue Productions, an established electronic media production team based in Brooklyn. The skilled production team used high quality film equipment and enlisted the help of more than a dozen actors across Buffalo–using craigslist and the Theatre Alliance of Buffalo–to illustrate a day full of funny yet upsetting mishaps against a salesman trying to sell ice cream on his bicycle-powered-ice cream cart.
Neal Ten Eyck, the lead cinematographer of the short film, said it was a while since he produced video media and was excited to create something for the competition.
“It was a nice test project for us,” Ten Eyck said. He added he was happy how the film turned out, regardless that technical difficulties with the projector at the park rendered his film in black and white and in a different picture frame.
Following the two films, Karagiannis and Jax Deluca, programming director at Squeaky Wheel, appeared in front of the crowd, ready to present the winner of the Ice Cream Cycle Film Contest. It was expected earlier that the audience would vote for their favorite film, but Deluca said the contest judges, Karagiannis and herself decided it was best to reward both production team finalists as winners of the competition.
Both teams invested so much effort into their films, it wouldn’t be right to reward only one production team, Deluca said in an interview afterward.
Instead of splitting the $300 dollar prize money into two, Karagiannis awarded both winning production teams $250 dollars each. The finalists also earned $20 gift certificates to rent out equipment at Squeaky Wheel’s headquarters on Main Street near West Tupper Street.
Karagiannis said the film contest was less about promoting his business and more about giving back to Buffalo’s art and media community. He added that he plans to join with organizations like Squeaky Wheel in the future and spring similar competitions that involve his portable ice cream selling business and the talented artists in Buffalo.
“It’s a fun business and I think it’s a fun way to incorporate the arts into it,” Karagiannis said. “I like to support these artists–they do an amazing job.”
Simon Husted is a South
Buffalo-born journalism student studying at Kent State University in
Ohio. This summer, Simon is back home and contributing to