An arm stretching out of a UFO to abduct a wild paintbrush, a man who turns everything he touches into bread, and an internet safety superhero — a wide range of concepts, all from the same imagination.
Communications senior Adin Darling has been a creative filmmaker for seven years. Throughout this time, he has developed a particular interest in using special effects and editing to bring his ideas to life.
“I think that being able to come up with any crazy idea and being able to actually make it happen is just insane,” Darling said. “The fact that anyone can do that now, if they actually put their mind to it, it’s my favorite thing.”
Darling started creating short films on YouTube in sixth grade. These films, not much longer than 30 seconds, usually featured the special effects that he learned from watching tutorials online.
“Back in middle school, I'd say my films didn't really have much of a story, but had some editing,” Darling said. “I've spent less time learning how to edit these days, more time just focusing on stories.”
When he started high school, Darling laid down roots in both creative film and broadcast news. In his freshman year, Darling created a comedic documentary on animation studio rivalries in film and media studies teacher Ruby Hernandez’s class. Mrs. Hernandez said that it was “one of the very few pieces” that she could recall to make it into the Streaming Canvas Film Festival from a freshman.
“He's highly motivated,” Mrs. Hernandez said. “He has a lot of ideas ready to go and will continue to have those ideas. I think the world will broaden greatly after high school for someone like him.”
Although Darling spends his time working on less structured pieces, he has also participated in the daily broadcast news show DSOA Today since his sophomore year. His position on the crew requires him to create informational packages, a recent one being “Cars and Coffee,” which he produced with communications junior Daniel Schmitt and others.
“The impact he has creatively is just awesome, because people get inspired when they see those packages,” Schmitt said. “For me to be able to work with him on this piece is really heartwarming.”
From his packages “Cars and Coffee” and “DSOA on the Street,” to his short film “The Brush” being featured on DSOA Today, students at school have started to recognize Darling as a filmmaker and editor.
“Now that I've kind of made a lot of things and people have seen them, it's nice to have people come up to me and ask for a little bit of help on editing, (which) makes me very happy,” Darling said.
Darling has worked to hone his skills and craft through watching special effects YouTube tutorials, participating in summer programs like the School of Creative and Performing Arts’ filmmaking intensive, and becoming certified in the Adobe software programs InDesign and Photoshop. By passing these Adobe certification exams, Darling qualified for the 2023 Adobe Certified Professional US National Championship over the summer. At the championship, he had a limited amount of time to create a poster using supplied materials.
“When they called my name,” Darling paused, smiling. “There were ten places, so they went down the line. They were like, ‘ten, nine, eight,’ then I started to zone out, because I just did not think I was going to win, right? But then they called seven. It was my name, and it was just … exhilaration.”
All the effort Darling has put towards film and broadcast throughout the past seven years come to a head as he thinks about his life after graduation. He said that his “bucket list” includes creating a feature-length film, traveling around the country for freelance work, and setting out for Los Angeles to “get his feet wet” as a crew member on a film set. Darling hopes to put himself in a position to “work his way up” to eventually becoming a director.
“So many people enter this field with an idea in their head of what it is, and then once they get there, it's not what they thought in their head, oftentimes, dissuading them from wanting to keep on pursuing it,” film and DSOA Today advisor Joseph Raicovich said. “But I do think he's got such a love for what he's doing, has fun with it, and gets that sense of pride when he looks at the final product that he (will be) able to find a way to earn his living doing this.”
From magic trick shorts to award winning pieces, Darling finds a creative outlet through filmmaking. Mr. Raicovich said that he does not think Darling “will ever stop wanting to make content.”
When asked why he loves filmmaking, Darling paused and said, “being able to create anything I can possibly imagine.”
Copy by Lila Goldin, photo by Brian Fowler, and package by Arik Karim
“I was in ninth grade, and we had an assignment to create a documentary, and I decided to make it about animation studios since that was something I was really into at the time. I would definitely change the voiceover if I was to redo it, but I think it was pretty good for a freshman. I like how it incorporated “on the street” with an actual documentary. I played around with animation within the video, and had the directors of the studios move around. I put in little animation memes from movies.”
“It was shown at Streaming Canvas (Film Festival), which felt pretty good. (I feel like) I got respect for that.”
Cars and Coffee
“Some of my favorite parts of this piece were the drone shots. It was my first time working with (drone shots), and I would totally do it again. I liked the combination of all of the different shots that everyone working on it took.”
“I like the people that we met working on this one, they had really interesting stories. There were a few people that we interviewed that didn’t end up making it in the video because their answers were too short, but still really interesting. I wish that we could include them in a longer piece.”
“(The Brush is) one of my favorites. My favorite moment is the shot where she’s running, and it's one static shot but the backgrounds that she’s running on change. That shot was made with AI, and basically, we shot the girl chasing the brush running through a fountain, running through a museum, and running through a street with games. But all the shots were super zoomed in. With AI, I expanded it so it looked like a really really wide shot. Adobe AI actually came out just as I was making the Brush, so I just looked up a simple tutorial and it was pretty straightforward.”
“I don’t like the beginning of the movie. It’s really slow, and doesn't really set the tone for the rest of it. I also don't like the sound effects very much. I would make a whole different beginning (if I could go back). I originally wanted to make it an SNL-type skit, with realistic dialogue and then something crazy happens, so I would start the beginning like that. Something more fast-paced, instead of having the first 30 seconds slow.”