Local filmmaker, actors recognized at Des Moines festival

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO — “Konnecting With Kyle,” a short film directed by BCLUW and MCC alum Dillon Jacobson, center and holding award, received the Producer’s Award during the Des Moines 48-Hour Film Project. Also pictured are Dillon’s father Shane, far left, actor Lucas Halverson, second from left, actor Cole Scafferi, third from left, actor Amy Van Holland, second from right, actor and cinematographer Grant Gale, front right, and Ethan Gale, back right.

What started as a few high school friends shooting ultra low budget short films around Conrad in their free time has since evolved into the same group of friends — with a few notable additions — making slightly higher budget short films that can now claim the distinction of being “award-winning.”

“Konnecting With Kyle,” the latest creation from writer/director Dillon Jacobson, a BCLUW High School and MCC alumni who is now attending the University of Iowa, recently received the Producer’s Award from the Des Moines 48-Hour Film Project. According to Jacobson, the award is decided independently from the judges’ panel and recognizes a group that shows exponential growth or just does something with the genre the producer himself particularly enjoyed.

The festival came with a unique twist: each competing group was required to write, shoot and edit their film, which had to run between four and seven minutes, over a two-day period, as the name might suggest — in this case, the last weekend of July.

They also had to work within some established genre confines — fish out of water and a family story — and they had to incorporate a certain character, a line of dialogue and a prop. The story they ultimately opted to tell centers around a goth teen named Kyle who spends a weekend with his straight-laced, all-American aunt and uncle and makes little to no effort to bond with them until an unwanted intrusion forces him into action.

“We started just brainstorming right then and there, and at one point, the fish out of water was gonna be this super unkempt clean guy, and he has a new roommate that’s a total slob,” Scafferi said. “But it evolved into an aunt and uncle having their nephew over for the weekend, and this is your stereotypical Midwestern family. And you’ve got a city boy that’s hardcore metal, and he just doesn’t belong there.”

The original artwork for “Konnecting With Kyle,” which tells the story of a goth teenager (Cole Scafferi) who visits his straight-laced, small town aunt and uncle (Lucas Halverson and Amy Van Holland) for a weekend.

Jacobson turned to some familiar faces for acting roles. Cole Scafferi, who plays the titular Kyle, and Lucas Halverson, who portrays Kyle’s straight laced uncle, are both fellow BCLUW alums and longtime collaborators, and Grant Gale of Marshalltown, who plays a rowdy, drunk neighbor named Dwayne, connected with Jacobson through the WWII film project “Reveille.” Amy Van Holland, a former Marshalltown resident who knew Gale through a community theater production, made the trip down from her current home in northwest Iowa to play the aunt character.

By the end of the first night, the group had a rough script in place with some room for improvisation.

“I often leave it up to the discretion of the team, but I definitely am somebody that runs by specific deadlines and I think they were much more refined this year,” Jacobson said. “I think it was kind of a soft stop after one hour, but then after, like, another half hour, if we hadn’t really gotten to one thing to really start writing on, I would try to draw a hard stop and really start writing.”

Beginning that Saturday morning, they shot “Konnecting With Kyle” around Conrad, utilizing Halverson’s house and a popular fishing spot just off of the Comet Trail among other spots. Halverson said the ideas began to flow quickly once they were all in the creative mindset, writing them down on a whiteboard and eventually settling on what would actually make it into the movie.

“It worked as both a fish out of water film and as a really good family film, and it’s just a super cool process to see everybody be able to work together, to compromise, to use each other’s ideas to create one mass,” Halverson said. “They talk a lot about certain things where it’s ‘This is a hill you’re willing to die on.’ That’s not exactly a healthy thing to have in a situation like this because the entire thing rides on the back of compromise.”

Another key, as Gale noted, was quickly identifying any problems or plot holes that could be easily identified as early as possible. And while the fish out of water concept has been used to the point of becoming cliche across film and television, they tried to avoid telling the same old story. The crew said they didn’t take any specific ideas from other movies, but they did pay homage to a shot that horror master Alfred Hitchcock often used in a scene that didn’t make the final cut.

Speaking of which, Jacobson and Co. are currently working on a director’s cut of “Konnecting With Kyle” that they expect to run about 8 ½ minutes, and they could expand on the idea further if they wish to turn it into a feature film. For now, they’re happy with the recognition they’ve received, and they plan to participate in an upcoming 48-hour horror project set to be shot around the Halloween holiday.

In addition to winning the Producer’s Award, “Konnecting With Kyle” was one of 12 competing short films selected for the Best Of screening. Whatever else comes out of their future collaborations, this group can rest easy knowing they have already taken the endeavor farther than most groups would imagine in their wildest dreams.

“We were recognized with teams that have been doing this for 10 plus years and people who work professionally in the field of video, whether it’s commercials or film or whatnot,” Gale said. “I feel like we’re punching above our weight a little bit.”

“Konnecting With Kyle” can be viewed for free on YouTube at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCALYKu_pIo.


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or



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