Junior ‘Stood Up’ for win

Silent film awarded, currently directing local theater


Maddox McDonald stands alongside the ‘Stood Up’ cast and crew at the Tivoli Theatre during the Student Silent Film Festival (photo courtesy of McDonald).

Jeanne Mardegan, News Editor, Web Editor

Dressed to the nines, LT students and community members gathered at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove to watch 11 short films as a part of the Student Silent Film Festival held on Jan. 25. The theater erupted in applause as the production from LT, “Stood Up,” was announced a winner in the fourth annual competition. 

While loads of students dedicated their time to working on the award-winning picture, the roughly six-minute film was written, directed, and edited by Maddox McDonald ‘24.

“Stood Up” tells the story of Cliff, who’s putting on a stand-up comedy show, yet faces disappointment when the only person who shows up is his girlfriend.

“When I started out writing [“Stood Up”], my biggest focus was on making a smaller story,” McDonald said. “[I believe] it’s easier to make a small thing really good than a huge thing pretty good.”

McDonald has had a passion for film and directing ever since he was young when he would make sketches alongside his brother for fun. Thus, when LTTV advisor Bill Allan told McDonald about the opportunity within the Student Silent Film Festival, he took it as a chance to continue to build his craft. Where some might’ve seen the silent-aspect to be challenging, McDonald ensured to use that facet to his advantage, he said.

“I’ve always held the philosophy that limitations are good,” McDonald said. “I didn’t set out to make a movie and it just happened to be silent. [The silence] isn’t a crutch or a limitation if you use it [intentionally].”  

After becoming fast friends with McDonald through the fall Improv Show, Peter Mikulski ‘23 was invited to act alongside Abbey Quinn ‘23 and Alejandro Gonzalez ‘23 in the picture. Having never really acted in something of these standards before, Mikulski assumed that silence would make things easier on him, yet he realized that facial expressions and showing one’s emotions were more difficult than one would think, he said. However, working alongside the crew and bringing home a win, in the end, brought Milkulski a sense of pride and relief.

“Maddox McDonald is a charismatic genius,” Milkulski said. “He has a clear vision of what he wants, but was [also] so flexible. He was ready to change things that needed to be changed and go with things that happened out of nowhere. He’s awesome, in short.”

McDonald has plans to work on projects that are to be entered in more festivals, such as a seven-day film festival that he’ll be partaking in during March. In a bit of a twist, he is also directing a live theater production at High School Repertory (HSR) of David Ives’ “All in the Timing and Time Flies”– a series of one-act, short plays. Although the role of student director typically goes to a senior, McDonald’s desire to pursue a future career in the role landed him the gig as a junior.

“I think the most important thing if you want an opportunity is to make it known that you want it,” McDonald said. “Since sophomore year, I’ve made it known to the head of HSR that I like directing and want that to be my focus.”

HSR’s production of “All in the Timing and Time Flies” had a show run from March 17-19 at the Theatre of Western Springs.