SHU Alum Recognized at The Ridgefield Independent Film Festival


BY Sophia Cirigliano

Staff Reporter

Sacred Heart’s very own alumnus, Tyler Stirling, was recognized at the 2019 RIFF, The Ridgefield Independent Film Festival, for Best Student Film. Stirling’s 17-minute narrative work, “Little Things,” was produced while he was pursuing his master’s within Sacred Heart’s film and television program.

According to, The Ridgefield Independent Film Festival, “celebrates independent films from around the world that enlighten, entertain, and inspire moviegoers through compelling visual storytelling.”

The Ridgefield Independent Film Festival, also known as the RIIF, brings innovative films and filmmakers from around the world to celebrate their works throughout the community’s annual four-day festival.

“Little Things” is a dark, twisted, hilarious tale, that is based on the main character Joel who has been living an isolated existence since he was a young boy. As Joel began his mission to end his life by writing a suicide note with an Seconal-Oreo milkshake, something changed his will to live.

As the film turns into a mysterious love-story between the two main characters, Joel and Chandler, many are captured by the film’s creativeness, showing of real-life events, and honesty.

An adjunct professor of communications and media studies and producer-in-residence, Bill Harris, encouraged Stirling to submit his short-film to the annual RIFF.

“I first learned of the project in the scripting process and kept my eye on its development until the rough cut,” said Harris. “That’s when I knew there was something interesting and special about the concept and execution and signed on as an Executive Producer help Tyler to explore additional story elements and direction for completing post-production and preparing to submit to festivals – with an eye towards independent distribution.”

Harris not only had great involvement within the production of  “Little Things,” but also has a role within the RIFF as well by being titled as General Manager. Harris said that he has large hopes for the continuation of the short film.

“My larger hope is that the story will be further developed into a small series or expanded to a fuller, feature length film” said Harris.

The Ridgefield Independent Film Festival screens independent films that tell inspiring stories. The four-day festival includes screening, panel discussions, special events, and night parties.

Throughout the process of entering a film for the RIFF, all films are screened and selected by a team of committed filmmakers and experienced viewers for an eye of new, creative, and narrative films. Film entries are judged on the filmmakers’ storytelling and creativity through the narrative.

“Everyone in the Film and Television Graduate Program (FTMA) is incredibly proud of Tyler’s achievements so far with his film “Little Things,” said Director of the Film and Television Graduate Program, Professor Sally Ross.

“I think that one of the reasons that ‘Little Things’ is impressing the people who see it is that Tyler tells his story in a truly cinematic way, and this is certainly one of our goals in the program,” said Ross. “He is very clever about how he uses all of the tools of cinema to convey his story in a way that is funny and poignant and fresh.”

“Little Things” focuses on a real-life issue but turns into a tale of a love-story creating a setting that is very dark and romantic within the honoring film.

“I thought it was a very clever, dark and twisted romantic comedy with an overlay of optimistic pathos … in other words, it defied simple description, which made it all the more intriguing,” said Harris. “It has a very serious subject at its core, but it’s dealt with through honest humor and lack of judgement that is a unique perspective that I believe not only raises, and humanizes, the challenges of dealing with life – that we all face from time-to-time, and wraps it in an absurd storyline that’s both funny and poignant.”


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