A Filmmaker's Journey

Campus MovieFest 2011

Every spring semester the college I attend puts on a film festival called Campus MovieFest. This is the world’s largest student film festival. I’ve had the great pleasure of submitting films to this festival four out of the last five times they’ve been on campus. I also attended the 61st Festival de Cannes and submitted a film while working an internship during the festival. Of the seven films I’ve submitted, all have made the top sixteen and three have become award-winning shorts. This year’s festival was a special treat as it was to be my last.

CMF gives you a camera, a Mac laptop loaded with Final Cut Studio, mics, tripods, whatever equipment you really need to make a movie, and one week to produce a short film. I learned rather quickly that you can develop and write your scripts months in advanced. You just can’t shoot anything.

Last semester, I took a feature-length movie-making course where the entire semester was devoted to doing just that; making a feature length film. I will blog about this project later, but the long and the short of it is this – I shot a feature film that had a cast of thirty and a crew of three in five twenty hour days. So, when CMF showed up this year I felt that one five-minute film would be far too easy. I decided then that I should shoot three!

The three films are Based On An Unfortunate True Story, a film about a girl who complains about her MIA boyfriend, Alone, a film about a college student going home for break to visit his mother, only to find that she isn’t there, and finally, Making (More) Movies, a short about students trying to come up with different takes on genre films.

Based On An Unfortunate True Story is just that, based on a true story. A friend told me about how she had been upset with her boyfriend who hadn’t contacted her for a week and how she almost blew up with him once he did call, but didn’t, and how lucky she was because it turned out that he was out of contact because he had found out his Mother had skin cancer. Me having a very dark sense of humor thought this was hilarious and of course took creative liberties to make the situation that much funnier! Check it out below.

Alone is a special film. I’ve always wanted to do a film where I could show off my abilities as a filmmaker and this was the perfect idea to do that with. Since the story is told visually and musically, this turned out to be the hardest film I’ve ever created. My friend Ryan Johns plays guitar well enough that we thought the two of us could produce this film in one night. We decided to shoot on location in Vero Beach and we were fortunate enough to get into town just as a really intense fog rolled in.

Now, for non-filmmakers, you’re probably thinking that a nearly silent film is much easier to shoot. You don’t have to learn lines, you don’t have to do multiple takes. Wrong. A very stylistic silent film is very difficult to do well. The reason for that is because you have to let the shots tell the story, but what’s more important than the shots is the music. In most cases you don’t want to notice that the music is manipulating your viewing experience; however, in a film like Alone that’s exactly what you want to do. The guitar is the emotional connection between the on screen character and the viewers. When our character, Aaron, is emotionally compromised and drunkenly stumbles down the boardwalk, the guitar is whaling. It is representing his emotional state – confused and angry. The last section of the film has nothing but the sound of crashing waves, no score. This was to signify how dead he felt on the inside.

Lastly, we have Making (More) Movies is a sequel to a film called Making Movies that fellow filmmaker Nastassia Alayeto and I made for our Screenwriting class in the fall of 2009. We liked the simplicity of the idea and decided that we wanted to try and make a true sequel that would be funnier than the first one. I think it’s hilarious. So did the judges. This film ended up winning two awards at the finale: Best Comedy and AT&T Rethink Possibility. Tell me what you think.

Making (More) Movies was my attempt at commenting on how stupid the tropes of Hollywood cinema are. A romantic comedy wouldn’t exist if the characters got to the point as shown with our characters. A horror film wouldn’t exist if the characters listened to the screaming audience members, “Don’t go in there!” If the characters just left, they would still be alive. The action sequence was our attempt to have fun. I didn’t want to comment on action scenes during the action sequence because that would have bogged the narrative down. Instead I commented on the mindless action narrative in our “real world” vérité scenes.

CMF 2011 turned out to be a very successful event and I look forward to the 2011 International Grand Finale in Hollywood.

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One response

  1. Pingback: Campus MovieFest 2011: Go Big or Go Home « N&A Productions

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