Short films serve as creative outlets, exploratory forms

Runquist expresses himself through short filmmaking project

Karsten Runquist

By Eva Perez-Greene

Artistic inspiration is everywhere, yet few feel bold enough to take the plunge and create something unique with it when they find it. Junior Karsten Runquist, a self-taught filmmaker, has challenged himself this year to produce one original short film per month. From his more mature horror short Yum to his youthful stop-motion short Separated,

He has created longer films for submission to the annual St. Paul Academy and Summit School Film Festival twice, but was drawn to short films, those less invested vehicles for experimentation which have appealed to both aspiring film artists and film virtuosos alike.

“I’ve tried to make one big movie every year, but I realized that I really wanted to make more so I challenged myself to do this,” Runquist said. There is no official theme for the film project, though Runquist admits his aim is to create products with the kind of vibrancy and freshness that the artist Pharrell Williams has recently branded.

“[Pharell is] a huge inspiration…he’s very colorful and different and that’s what I’m trying to be with my films,” Runquist said.

Finding the time to feel as creative as possible, let alone acting on those feelings, is hard enough for most busy SPA students. But where there’s a will, or perhaps an urge to create, there is a way. Runquist has managed to immerse himself in both of his passions–swimming and film–at once. “I’m on a swim team so while I’m swimming, I usually come up with the ideas,” Runquist said, noting the daily time he gets to listen to his own thoughts while swimming laps at practice.

Runquist’s artistic strengths lie in his handling and placement of the camera, as well as his editing. “That’s how I started getting into video, with editing,” he said. “I used to make these weird Parkour videos. Then it grew into this film thing and I realized that I liked making story videos.”


Runquist’s most recent film Separated, a smooth stop motion flick inspired by Wes Anderson’s lauded Fantastic Mr. Fox, is one such example of his editing and filming strengths. It is about two love-stricken fishies, carelessly separated by their owner, their ultimate reunion tenuous at best. Finding Nemo and Romeo and Juliet currents run throughout.

“They’re in a bathroom, they’re bathtub fish, and this guy who lives there just separates them,” Runquist said. “Like rubber ducky fishes though, not actual fish!” Runquist describes the process of making a stop motion film, which he taught himself, as difficult yet very fun.

His October short, Yum, is a venture into horror, a genre exceptionally demanding for its subtle balance of shock and catharsis. “Yum is about a girl who’s just trying to eat her snack when some mysterious thing keeps taking a bite out of it without her seeing. I don’t want to spoil the rest in case someone watches it,” Runquist said. Yum is darker in tone than most of Runquist’s upbeat pieces, yet it preserves the same daring playfulness, the same “what if?” attitude in his other works.

Runquist’s September film, Smiles for Miles, the first in his shorts project, is a strange love story. “It’s about this guy who falls in love with this inflatable ball,” he described.

Runquist cites Napoleon Dynamite, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Pixar films in general as his influences. He hopes to develop his interest in film through a professional career eventually. “I’d like to be either a filmer or a director…I’d like to go to NYU because they have a really good film program,” Runquist said.

Whether or not he goes on to become a professional, Runquist’s monthly shorts are worth checking out on his Youtube channel.