"It was a play on 'Tar Heels.'"
Avni Singh, a UNC senior studying film, said her new coming-of-age comedy titled "Sticky Feet" is inspired by UNC's beloved symbol.
The film features a cast and crew of students and is directed and produced by Singh. It follows Shelby — a UNC student — throwing her roommate a 21st birthday party, and the anxieties and missteps she faces along the way.
“It touches on a lot of things like perception on social media, worrying about how to throw a good party, real friendships versus fake friendships, self-image, all kinds of things,” Singh said. “But ultimately, it's a comedy.”
Singh was inspired to create the film last January after talking with other students from UNC Student Television, which whom she had previously done work with. She decided to make a movie that would bring fellow UNC students into the production process itself.
“We really wanted to do something that was coming of age because our whole college experience had been up-ended by COVID,” she said.
Students from all different years, majors and intersections of campus life make up the film’s team. While they set out to create a film about finding the perfect college experience post-pandemic, the cast and crew ironically found it amongst themselves throughout the filming process, Singh said.
Singh and the crew wanted the film to include involvement from the entire campus – they incorporated students’ opinions and feedback throughout the filming process. Emma Cooke, a junior on the marketing team, helped put up posters and hand out stickers advertising "Sticky Feet" and directing students toward their Instagram page.
On Instagram, students were able to answer polls and give feedback in the comments about various aspects of the film, from where the main characters should live to what outfits they should wear.
“That's what I mean by creating a community and expanding the creative control beyond just me and our production team,” Singh said. “Hearing input from everyone who might be interested in helping on a project like this, even if they're not a film major or anything like that.”
Anyone from the UNC community was also invited to appear as an extra in the “Euphoria”-themed party scene. This film is unique in its involvement with the wider UNC population outside of the film community, Cooke said.
“Usually, when a film comes out, you go and watch it, and that's pretty much your involvement as an audience member,” she said. “But now, people who have never been part of the creation process can go and see the film and be like, ‘Oh, I helped choose that song’ or ‘I chose the party’, and they can kind of see their contributions coming to life on the screen.”
Shelby Armstrong, a leading actor, said the film is special because it's collaborative and “rogue”. As the vice president of Carolina Film Association, she said she has been involved in other student-film projects with high stakes, rigid structure and strict deadlines.
“Whereas with 'Sticky Feet,' it was just like a bunch of friends coming together to make a film and have fun together and produce something that they find exciting,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said the chemistry on set among the cast and crew was great, and it felt like a very open and welcoming space. She said she never expected "Sticky Feet" to gain so much traction with UNC students, and she is appreciative of the memories she experienced regardless of the film’s attention.
The film will premiere at the Varsity Theatre on Feb. 24 and anyone can RSVP here. Singh encourages everyone to come out and support the film and said anyone who RSVPs will be listed in the final credits. There will be professional photography, a red carpet, food and a cast and crew meet-and-greet at the film’s first screening.
Armstrong said she is excited to see the film on the big screen for the first time and for her friends to watch the product of what she’s been working on for over a year now.
“I'm excited for them to finally see 'Sticky Feet' and be let into our little family a little bit more,” Armstrong said.
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