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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A look inside SWAMP

The+Liberal+Arts+and+Humanities+Building+at+night+on+May+3%2C+2022.
Photo by Cameron Johnson

The Liberal Arts and Humanities Building at night on May 3, 2022.

The Aggie screenwriting, acting and movie production club, or SWAMP, is a microcosm of Texas A&M as a culture and a community. 

Similar to current media and entertainment, the topics of violence, drugs or mental illnesses are shown in nearly all of the SWAMP club’s student films. Despite covering less-than-wholesome subject matter, the club is still a great example of the artistic culture and Spirit of Aggieland and what makes it so special. Members and officers alike work together and pour talent, resources and energy to collectively support one another.

Filmmaking is an arduous task that requires heavy commitment and deliberate collaboration. Even at a hobbyist level, it is much more than simply pointing a camera and shooting – there’s directing, acting, writing, post-production, lighting, sound – and each requires knowledge in these respective areas. The generous members of SWAMP club do this for free.  

In addition to helping out with various projects, university studies junior and SWAMP historian Erik Lindstrom said he is interested in the startup aspect of filmmaking.  

“I’m hoping to provide to new students and SWAMP members support resources, especially for getting started,” Lindstrom said. “It’s super daunting … providing film software, help[ing] on how to start filmmaking, workshops. Providing lighting, cameras and providing experience are the big things I want to do this year.” 

Every project is created with the community in mind — it’s Aggies helping other Aggies. Matthew Banzer, Class of 2021, filmed a short comedy-thriller film called “BagBak” earlier this spring and intends to release it through festivals. Ever since he was obsessed with movies as a kid, he has dreamed about a career as a director or anything that allows creative freedom and tells a story.

Though still in post-production for color correcting and editing, Banzer said his short film is the biggest and personal project he has worked on so far.

“I couldn’t have done this without [SWAMP Club] and they are all really supportive and creative,” Banzer said. “There were people supposed to help for one day [and] ended up staying for the entire project.”

Everyone involved puts lots of care into projects, with some scenes requiring days of reshooting.  Civil engineering junior and SWAMP president Brek Kanhalangsy did the camera work for “BagBak” and said he relates this experience to when he first joined and asked for the SWAMP club’s help with a project. 

“Within ten minutes of asking I immediately got all the [cast and crew] roles filled up. I have seen that for all the projects or those started myself. They just want to help out,” Kanhalangsy said. “It is the most creative club at A&M. I have never met people who are more passionate about art, the filmmaking process, or the artistic process than people at Aggie SWAMP.”

You can follow the production of “BagBak,” view Kanhalangsy’s YouTube channel, Branzer’s Youtube channel or watch submissions from the annual SWAMP film festivals on these two YouTubechannels.
 

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