Geneva College
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When Lucas McNelly came to Geneva as a freshman, he would have never dreamt that in less than a decade he would have several well-regarded short films under his belt. Nor would he have dreamt that his most recent film, gravida, would be a semi-finalist in a film festival, or viewed over 20,000 times on popular Web sites like MySpace and YouTube.

After looking into several other private colleges, Maine native Lucas McNelly ('01) chose Geneva and a major in broadcast communications. He liked the colleges' campus, its Christian emphasis and, as he puts it, “the whole ‘birthplace of college basketball’ thing really stuck with me.”

“I was big into sports all the way through high school and didn't explore anything significantly artistic until my sophomore year of college,” says McNelly. “I am definitely a late bloomer.”

But he eventually won Geneva’s first film festival in 2001, and soon after graduation he started pursuing film in his new home of Pittsburgh. Two of his short films, guard duty and L’Attente, gained him some attention. But gravida, released in 2007, is his most accomplished worked to date. Not only has the short film been shown in several film festivals around the United States, but is also a semi-finalist in the Now Film Fest.

gravida follows Kristin (played by fellow Geneva alum Rachel Shaw), a young secretary coming to grips with her loneliness as she prepares for a date with a bicycle messenger. By the end of the film, Kristin is faced with some big questions and life-changing realizations that don't have any easy answers. Lucas explores some mature, complex themes over the film’s 24 minute run-time and points out that gravida may not be for all audiences.

Citing acclaimed Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski and short story writer Andre Dubus as major influences, McNelly uses his camera to advance the plot: instead of using rapid editing and expository dialogue common to many mainstream films, he lets the story unfold in images that are as important as the characters’ nuances and small talk. “I'm not a big fan of telling the audience over and over what's going on,” he says. “I prefer to let the images and words do that subtly.”

-by Jason Panella, Public Relations


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