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News . Feature Stories . Sophomore's photo inspires magic on the big screen

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November 21, 2013

Sophomore's photo inspires magic on the big screen

Project Imaginat10n launched the first-ever all photo-inspired film festival.

Sophomore's photo inspires magic on the big screen

By Jennifer P. Grasso

On October 24, 2013, CIA sophomore Photography major Nicole Matthews sat in the very front row, smack dab in the center of Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City, and watched one of her photographs come to life on the big screen. The eerily dreamy image, “Everything’s Magic”, was ultimately chosen from tens of thousands of submissions to be part of the inspiration behind …And She Was My Eve, a short film directed by Academy Award winner Jaime Foxx as part of Project Imaginat10n.

“This was a great opportunity to network with other photographers and see some behind-the-scenes action in the photography and film industries,” Matthews said after returning to Cleveland.

Sponsored by director, producer, and actor Ron Howard in partnership with Canon U.S.A., this international photo competition is now in its second year. In its first iteration in 2011, then Project Imagin8ion, Howard and Canon partnered to invite photographers of all skill levels from around the world to submit their original photographs, out of which eight were chosen by Howard’s daughter, actress Bryce Dallas Howard, to inspire her award-winning short film when you find me. The goal was to show the powerful inspiration that can come from photography.

This year, Project Imaginat10n went big, and Howard and Canon launched the first-ever photo-inspired film festival. The “10” stands for ten storytelling elements that were used and ten short films that were ultimately produced.

Photographers were asked to submit photos of their interpretations of 10 different storytelling elements: mood, setting, backstory, goal, time, character, obstacle, relationship, the unknown, and discovery. Through anonymous voting, the public was able to whittle down the submissions to 91 finalists. Howard chose the winner of the discovery theme, which acted as a tie-in across all short-films. Five celebrity directors then chose photographs from each remaining themes to inspire a new short film. The five celebrity directors were Foxx, actress Eva Longoria, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, fashion designer Georgina Chapman, and musician James Murphy. The public was then invited to direct films and five additional films were chosen to make up the 10-film festival.

You can view all 10 films from the Project Imaginat10n film festival and see all winning photographs online at longliveimagination.com.

When Matthews created her winning photograph, she was hoping to make an image that felt enchanted. “What’s more magical than someone floating in the air,” she asks. She describes her work as, “surreal and fairytale-like,” with magical themes. “My photos all definitely have a story running through and behind them. I want people to stop and look at them and feel a sense of magic,” she said.

Apparently Foxx felt the magic. Matthews submitted the photo in the character category and Foxx chose it as the inspiration for Eve, the love interest of the main character in his film. In this sci-fi romantic short, an unrequited love in the main character’s childhood motivates him to create the perfect partner, Frankenstein-style.

Matthews’s interest in photography began in high school and now she is fully engrossed in pursuing photography as her profession. When she’s not taking self-portraits of herself floating weightlessly in the street, Matthews can be found working on a new project inspired by the Brothers Grimm and building her professional portfolio by taking portraits of high school seniors and wedding photographs.

One of her CIA professors, Mary Jo Toles, said, "Nicole is quite a remarkable young talent - and one to watch as she moves forward."

She encourages other aspiring photographers to be on the lookout for and enter contests like Project Imaginat10n. “If you work hard enough, you can make it happen. Don’t be afraid to get your name out there.”

Matthews’s VLOG chronicles her trip to the Project Imaginat10n Film Festival in New York. More of her magical work is iewable on Facebook at Nicole Matthews Photography.

Above: “Everything’s Magic,” Nicole Matthews, 2011.

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