Campus MovieFest continues at Tech despite close call

As students have spent the week zipping in and out of class to stay out of the cold, their classmates participating in Campus MovieFest (CMF) have spent that time filming their entries. The annual competition, which challenges teams of students to create short films in the span of one week, almost did not happen this year due to concerns over cost and a lack of communication.

“A lot of the charter members who started CMF at Tech graduated last year, really creating a void in leadership that made it difficult for us to bring the event back,” said Qiyu Liu, an ECE graduate student who has been involved with CMF since it first came to Tech in 2003. “We had several students step up to take their place but due to the perceived cost, they weren’t as enthusiastic about the event as the charter members.”

In the past, Tech has been well represented at the CMF competition, with teams winning many of the top prizes at the regional and national level. When the competition first began, it was operated informally and did not charge the participating universities, but as the event became more high profile, the company running CMF, Ideas United, took steps to raise the competition’s visibility. These actions, which included renting out the Ferst Center, contributed to the increase in cost.

On the whole, CMF costs $36,000, most of which is covered by corporate sponsors. Tech’s CMF committee was left with the responsibility for finding an additional $10,000 in funding.

In November, Liu, Daniel Fuller, a third-year CM major, Wryen Meek, a fifth-year PUBP major, Melissa Pitcher, a third-year BIO major, Sharad Gopal, a first-year EE major, and Sidarth Kantamneni, a third-year STAC major, organized an emergency meeting to save CMF. They set themselves up as the CMF organizing committee and began lobbying SGA and other student organizations for funding.

“The organization was very hard for those couple of days and met with me and they were very proactive in pushing the event,” said Kristie Champlin, second-year PUBP major and chair of the SGA Institute Wide Committees. “There was some confusion in SGA because they didn’t have the precise line items necessary to get SGA funding, but we decided in the end that the event is important to Tech’s campus and we expedited the bill through SGA.”

Tech’s CMF committee tapped several sources, including SGA, FAB, RHA and Buzzfunds, to keep the event at Tech. SGA alone funded over $12,500 for the event. “We were able to get the funds in time for the event and do some advertising and it looks like we’ll have a pretty decent turnout this year, around what we usually have,” Liu said.

“If you look at the size and the number of teams involved in the event, including the friends they pull in for filming and those who come to watch the movies, it probably brings together about 30 percent of Tech’s student body,” Liu said.

In the past, clips from CMF entries have appeared on ABC News, Times Square, and this year the top films will be showcased at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles.

“It’s really a great opportunity for people to get together with their friends and do something fun for a whole week,” said Daniel Fuller, third-year CM major. “During CMF you can produce something that is really complete, from start to finish, whereas if I was making my own movie, I might never get through the editing process.”

Created by a group of students at Emory University in 2001, CMF provides each team, free of charge, with a digital HD camcorder, boom microphone, Macbook Pro and two AT&T camera phones to make their movies. The Apple laptops are loaded with editing software such as iMovie and Final Cut Pro. The competition gives the participants only one week to film their movie, and requires the movies to be less than five minutes long.

“CMF gives you an opportunity to exercise your right brain. Sometimes at Tech you forget how to do that,” said Bryan Chang, third-year AE major. The CMF at Tech Finale will be held Jan. 29 in the Ferst Center and will be open to all students.