Students express selves in movies

Every year, students at universities across the globe devote one week to tackle the challenge of writing, filming and producing an original, five-minute film for the annual college film festival, Campus Movie Fest (CMF).

For many Tech students, CMF provides the chance to forget about integrals, half-lives and run-time errors and the opportunity to let their creative sides loose.

This year, over 100 teams from Tech competed against one another to claim the top spot in one of the three main categories: best comedy, best drama or best picture.

The winners from each category will now screen their respective films at the national level in Hollywood, representing Tech and competing against other winners from colleges across the country.

Unlike most participating universities, Tech does not offer major degrees in the cinematic arts. While a film minor is offered and a few classes are offered on the subject of production, most Tech students involved in the competition simply create films as a hobby.

For a majority of students here, including the winner of best comedy, this year was their first time participating.

“I made one short film for a film class several years ago, but working on this CMF short was the first time I was able to do everything myself, and it was a lot more fun,” said Brandon Denny, the winner of the best comedy and an INTA grad student.

The one-week time span in which to shoot and edit the film presented somewhat of a challenge to Jared Caldwell, a third-time competitor who won for best drama and a CS grad student.

“We only had two days to shoot and edit it, and we stayed up 20 or so hours finishing it. It was a very tough two days,” Caldwell said.

Like Caldwell’s team of actors, many of the teams competing consisted of a group of friends that decided to get together and produce a film in under a week with no formal crew.

“When all the actors had to be in the same shot, [Caldwell] would turn the camera on, get it framed up and then run over to where we were with the boom mic and yell ‘action’,” said Kurtis Noblitt, an actor in Caldwell’s short “2BRO2B.”

With limited budgets and a three-day weekend, directors and crews utilized any set locations they could find to the best of their ability.

“A special thank you to the music technology graduate students. We had to share that room while we were filming. They were behind us typing away while we were actually shooting,” Caldwell said.

Students not involved in the film-making process but curious as to what the festival was were also present at the finale on Sunday, March 6, at the Ferst Center.

“Not really knowing what [CMF] was all about when I walked in the door, I was pleased with the turnout. I loved the obvious variety of genres and attitude in each short film. I could almost sense the goals each director had in mind while watching. I love seeing new ideas unfold from fresh minds, and at the same time, I honestly enjoy watching some films plummet. And yes, I agreed with the judges in that the right films deserved their awards,” said Michael Mullins, a second-year ID major.

Overall the variety of films provided the audience with a range of emotional responses.

Based on a true story, Whispers of Shaltan, winner of best picture, was directed by Tamer Shaaban, a fourth-year CS major. It focused on the social issue of rape.

Shaaban’s film not only won best picture, but it will also be competing in The Elfenworks Social Justice Category, a category of films that focus on shedding light on current social injustices in the world today.

Whether the film makers involved plan on pursuing a career in film or not, some were just pleased to be involved in the event.

“If I could be Christopher Nolan, sure. If I were able to connect with other filmmakers through this competition or other opportunities came up, I would be open to it. Right now I’m just happy that I made some people laugh,” Denny said.


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