When finals are in full gear, it can be almost impossible to drag students out of the libraries. But on the Saturday before exams, students filled Smith Auditorium in Sills Hall, home to Bowdoin’s Cinema Studies, to watch a screening of Lost on the Way, a short film directed and written by Nevan Swanson ’18, with original score and sound design by Sam Kyzivat ’18.
The film was the result of a year’s worth of work – Swanson wrote the script in a screenwriting course in the fall, and shot the film over the course of the year, and the soundtrack of the film became Kyzivat’s senior honors thesis in music composition.
The film follows Nick (Nick Barnes ’18) and Sarah (Sarah Guilbaut ’18) on two road trips through Maine. Nick, who is obsessed with recording and documenting, disappears midway through the film, leaving Sarah to wrestle with the recordings left behind.
This is the second film which Swanson and Kyzivat have produced together. As sophomores, the two made a film called Off Red for an independent study. Even before the year began, says Swanson, “we knew that we wanted to make something together.”
Swanson, a visual arts major, has also worked on documentary films, and Lost on the Way was, for him, a way of exploring what he calls the “tension between documentation and experience.”
The inspiration for Lost on the Way came from a letter written to Swanson’s brother by an old family friend. The friend had written the letter long before Swanson’s brother was born, and in the intervening years, had disappeared without meeting the brother. “I wanted to use this letter somehow, because I could feel in it this person who I’d never met, meeting someone who he’d never met,” said Swanson. In the film, the letter is adapted into a memory of Nick.
After graduation, both Kyzivat and Swanson plan to pursue jobs related to film. Kyzivat will spend the next year working for the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra, and is considering going to grad school for music composition. Swanson was awarded a Watson Fellowship, which he will use to continue exploring questions related to documentation and memory – studying some of the earliest known documentation on the planet, the Lascaux cave paintings, and closer to home, his own family’s experience of the Holocaust in Poland.