Campus MovieFest brings student creations to big screen

From Jan. 14 to Jan. 20, Tech students were frantically creating, shooting, and editing movies across the campus and city. No, they were not just feeling the urge to produce movies.

They were participating in Campus MovieFest, a student movie competition, which can lead to some amazing resources, networking with Hollywood bigwigs and some great prizes.

Campus MovieFest was created in 2001 by four students at Emory University. It has grown to include over 50 schools in the U.S. and St. Andrews University in Scotland. It is now the world’s largest student film festival.

The international finale was held in Hollywood last year. There is a possibility of the event being held in Las Vegas this year.

This year’s message is, “This Could Be You” basing the message on, “connecting students with industry leaders that can help students achieve their dreams, ” said Dan Costas, one of the four founders of Campus MovieFest.

The festival is held over the course of a week and is generally scheduled around exams or other big school events. Tech students have been lucky in the past few weeks because Dr. Martin Luther King Day has fallen in the middle of competition week thus, participants are able to spend more time on their film.

There were a record number of entries this year according to Qiyu Liu, the president of Campus MovieFest at Tech, with 144 teams that signed up.

“For such a young event, Campus MovieFest has a strong and rich history,” Liu said.

Liu has been a part of Campus MovieFest since 2002. He has seen almost every hiccup that can happen. But he will soon be graduating with his Ph. D and now the search for a replacement will begin.

“I think most students aren’t aware of the immense planning and manpower required to put on Campus MovieFest. Consequently, few students ever express interest in getting involved with the organization,” Liu said.

Meanwhile, there is a lot of logistical and behind-the-scenes work that goes into making Campus MovieFest work smoothly.

The Student Govermnent Association (SGA) and the Residence Hall Association (RHA) help with the funding and reservation of the Ferst Center and event fees. Judges have to be found, bills have to be written and recruiting has to be done for a team that can organize the festival in the coming years.

The judges consist of an anonymous group of students, faculty and staff from Tech. The judges will base their decisions on content, overall quality, emotional impact and technical excellence.

The awards include Best Picture, Best Drama and Best Comedy. The winners will then move onto the regional level and, if they win there, later the international level.

There are several prizes that can entice Georgia Tech students to create a five minute movie on their own time. Prizes include iPods, TVs, and copies of Final Cut software. The winners from the regional competition are also taken to the Tribeca Film Festival later in the spring.

But the most important aspect and the one that the founders of Campus MovieFest want to emphasize the most is that the festival is all about fun. The students are able to spend time with one another and make a video that can also show their fun and creative sides as well as be able to compete at an international level.

There Was A Shark: The Ultimate Showdown, was created by the Humor and Innovation ThinkBig community on campus. Though the students were not very knowledgeable about the movie making process, their aim was to have a good time creating something.

“All we wanted was to make the people who watch our movie have a good time and enjoy our jokes and so that we can look back at the movie and remember what a fun experience it was to make the movie,” said Arjun Kumar third-year ME.

Their movie was based on comedy and improvisation, inspired by their ThinkBig community, Humor and Innovation.

“I do not expect us to be in contention for a winner’s berth but that is not why we made this movie so I will be happy no matter what happens,” said Akilesh Natarajan, second-year CS.

But their reasoning for making this move was not to win the competition, just to have fun with the movie making process.

Joey Slater, first-year AE; Rob Agocs, first-year ME; Devi Bhusari first-year BIO and Hana Kim, Emory student, created a movie, , that is intended to shock the audience. They acted in, edited, and even created an original soundtrack for their film.

The final product is a complete storyline that is conveyed in under five minutes. Though there were small issues including weather, a favorite moment included sneaking around in department stores to get the needed shots.

“Campus MovieFest is a means of escaping the structured, rigid drudgery that the Georgia Tech curriculum tends to be. Almost like a beacon of creativity in a sea of monotony. It helped me stay sane for a few weeks,” Agocs said.

The teams that I talked with were excited about the grand finale on Feb. 19 at the Ferst Center of the Arts. Even if they don’t win, they are planning on competing again next year.

The event is free and open to all students, faculty, staff, and Atlantans of all ages. It will begin at 7PM on Friday Feb. 19 in the main auditorium of the Ferst Center.