The film begins with a boy suspended in water. Bubbles obscure his face as he breathes out of his nose. There is a flashback, a woman basking in sunlight, the same boy holding a flower on a rainy night in a graveyard. The scene jumps to the present as a man walks into a house, slamming the door.
The introduction to junior commercial photography major Alex Wolf’s most recent project, "Praxis," draws the viewer into a provocative look at grief, mourning and the effects of both. "Praxis" is Wolf’s most recent and intimate project.
“It’s the same thing as every artist, I’m trying to find a way to get my emotions out and impact people,” Wolf said.
Wolf had a tough summer. After an internship to work on an independent film in New York City fell apart, she braved the rest of the summer alone in East Harlem.
“After that I felt lost,” Wolf said. “I just walked around the city by myself thinking, ‘okay what am I going to do?’”
Lack of communication with friends from Boone only helped to exacerbate the situation.
“I didn't talk to too many people from home, and I was in a bit of a confusing place with relationships,” Wolf said.
Upon her arrival back to Appalachian State and her transfer from the environment of New York City, Wolf felt despondent.
“I wasn't the most pleasant person to be around, and I started this semester pretty rough, so I channeled a lot of those feelings of wanting to run away from the things you can't control and isolating yourself ultimately into ‘Praxis,’” Wolf said.
Her work began to suffer because she had lost her artistic confidence. It was a feeling that clutched on to her for the majority of the fall 2013 semester, until "Praxis."
“When this assignment came up I was a wreck at school. I just completely lost my personality. I would not talk to anybody. It was a big thing for me. I just chased this opportunity and was looking forward to it, and I just feel like it got ripped from me along with my confidence.”
Wolf spent her early childhood in Philadelphia learning to love autumn and winter. One of her childhood traditions was to spend every Saturday with her grandfather, a tradition she now believes gave her the ability to be open-minded and well-rounded. Through her childhood Wolf was introduced to many different creative outlets.
“My dad always supported my interest,” Wolf said.
Wolf’s father is responsible for her love of superheroes, movies and video games, all long-standing stress relievers for her.
“[My dad] never tried to make me fit into a certain role, and let me completely be myself before I even knew how much that mattered in today's world,” Wolf said.
The salad days of the “City of Brotherly Love” ended when Wolf moved to Raleigh, N.C. at age 10, but Windows Movie Maker and her passion for film overrode her “early teen moodiness.”
Through high school, Wolf lived in Raleigh. It was her senior year of high school that she realized her two options: stay in Raleigh and enroll in online courses to become a music videographer and photographer, or go to Appalachian State. On her one and only tour of the university, Wolf fell in love with Boone and the college. It reminded her of Pennsylvania in the fall, a distant memory rekindled by the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Wolf took advantage of her opportunities in Boone, but she does stop to take a deep breath every now and then with one of her favorite hobbies -- video games.
At ASU Wolf has worked on a myriad of projects. She considers "Praxis" as her best work: a cathartic experience that has gotten her back on her feet.
Wolf would like to end up out in California after college, somewhere that applies the same fast-paced and ever-changing lifestyle that Wolf wants.
“I'm a person that wants to experience different things all the time if I'm going to experience anything at all,” Wolf said. “Normally I sit around and play video games in my spare time, so if I want to go out and explore. I want it to always feel different each day.”
She feels the a city environment will satisfy her need to experience something new every day.
“If I'm really going to enjoy the age that I'm at, I want a fast-paced nature to it.”
Wolf also feels that compared to New York, California has much more fertile soil for film.
Now a senior Wolf looks to focus on projects that she feels passionate about. The first project is a competition hosted by Nikon.
“The idea [for the competition] is to take an ordinary event and make it cinematic,” she said.
If Wolf wins, she will be rewarded with $17,000 in equipment, something she is keeping her fingers crossed about.
Her other project is not a competition, but another original short film idea similar to “Praxis.”
“A psychological thriller about the darkest part of the human psyche, and how our minds can distort reality,” Wolf said.
Even though Wolf is back behind the camera and in the editing bay, she still feels the same emotions that she experienced when she first got back to Boone this fall. For her to get back to her old self, it will take time and growth.
“It's inevitable that we are all flawed at times as we figure out who we are and go through life-changing experiences,” Wolf said. “It's more so how we channel those feelings, whether you talk to someone about them, or create something with them,” Wolf said.