Touchstones Film Club

Garret Johnston is the proud to share her visual inspirations through her new film club Touchstones. Photo by Jason Stilgebouer.

The theater goes dark and the film title Wild Wild West appears on the dark screen. This is the second showing from Touchstones, Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s newest film club. The club began three weeks ago, with its first showing on Nov. 14. Club runner Garrett Johnston plans to keep the club running through the spring semester.

Johnston, who is a Digital Arts and Visual Design senior, started the club when she was assigned to create a project that needed several visual touchstones. “We’re creating these wasteland creatures and mixing them with technology…” she says. Wild Wild West was an inspiration for her project because it is “kind of corny but it’s real steampunky and a little desolate.”

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a touchstone is “a test or criterion for determining the quality or genuineness of a thing.” For Johnston, this means finding films that have touchstone qualities that improve both the quality of her work and others. 

“I want to be able to show things that other people can reference or be inspired by,” Johnston says.

Johnston has been choosing touchstone films that inspire herself and, she hopes, other people. “It’s basically, ‘oh, what do I think can help me with my next project? What can inspire me with my piece?’” she says. “Until somebody can bring me suggestions on what can help them with their next piece, I’ll keep catering to myself.”

Warren Couvillion, who runs the film club Club-Along, attends Touchstones both to support Johnston and to train her in the job of projectionist. Without this training, Johnston was told she would be unable to have the club. “I think it’s going to survive just because Garrett’s so confident about everything…So as long as she enjoys herself and I’m enjoying myself, I think that’s what really matters,” he says.

Although the club had a late start in the fall semester and SFUAD closes next spring, this hopeful leap to bring students together has already made some progress. Three people attended the first showing, and most recently five people attended Wild Wild West. “Even if one person shows up every week besides myself, it’s kind of a success for some events on campus,” Couvillion says.

Johnston wants the people who attend to enjoy themselves most. “I feel like this is another outlet to do so if they want to,” Johnston says. “I just want to give people a little pick up and be like, ‘hey, you can still be inspired and there’s still wonderful things here regardless of how gloomy the situation may feel,’” she says.

Johnston hopes other people will step up and suggest films to show that will inspire them, and she looks forward to the future of the club in that sense. “Just keep creating and it’s hard right now, but I think if you let yourself be inspired, your art will find a way,” she says.

Touchstones Film Club meets at 9 p.m. Tuesday nights at the Screen.