Rise of the Giants

The Great Hall filled with students who waited to watch cinema instructors and husband and wife team, Daria Matza and Mark Devendorf’s documentary “Rise of the Giants,” about growing giant pumpkins.

The documentary touched on almost every aspect on the art of growing pumpkins. From the history of pumpkins being the oldest domestic plant to its pollination process which featured some funky Barry White as background music.

One question that might have been on everyone’s mind was Matza and Devendorf’s choice to make a film about growing giant pumpkins.

“I saw the image of them growing them and that image just really captivated me,” Matza said.

Matza used this screening to help her History of Documentary students make the connection between what she teaches in class to a real life documentary.

“I was hoping that the students who are learning about documentary would be able to see [the film] and relate it to the things we’re learning in class,” Matza said.

After the documentary, the floor poured open with questions from audience members for both Matza and Devendorf about the process it took to create the documentary.

A student asked how the filmmaking duo was able to use movie clips from Charlie Brown and other famous Halloween movies without infringing on copyright.

“A lot of the Disney clips and the movies clips are under a law called fair use,” Matza said.

Some students had questions about how they were able to make the edits and put the footage together even though they had no storyboard and just went straight into filming the documentary.

“You have to just work with the footage you have and you have to watch it hundreds of times.” Devendorf said.

Devendorf and Matza will never forget the experience of working with such a unique group of people who believe that the bigger the pumpkin, the happier the people are. They also feel they have built great new relationships.

“I feel like I’ve made really great friends,” Matza said.

As cinema instructors, this film was a way for students to see their teachers’ work and learn from it while having a better understanding about film and to earn extra credit, according to cinema major Joseph Winthrope.

“It’s kind of just seeing the credentials of my professor as well,” Winthrope said.

In more ways than one, the film showed how growers would strategically tend and care for their pumpkins. Although some techniques were a little strange they all seemed to be able to share the same love for growing giant pumpkins.

“The community involved with growing these giant pumpkins is pretty spectacular,” said biology major Patricia Lyons.

The documentary showed that pumpkin growers are competitive and dedicated people and that concept is easy for people to grasp and relate to while watching this film.

“I do know that people that grow plants and food do it with passion,” Lyons said.

The documentary had its fair share of happy, touching, and comedic moments. Every participant’s story documented how and why they are so dedicated to growing pumpkins and that can come as somewhat of a surprise.

“It was really surprising to see how attached people get to them and they treat them like pets,” Matza said.

The filming process has made Matza and Devendorf want to grow their own giant pumpkin in the future.

“I think it’s really fun to do with your kids too,” Matza said.

The next screening of “Rise of the Giants” will be Nov. 9 at 3 p.m. at The Shed in Pasadena.