Northern Arizona Student Film Festival
Lights, camera, action. Many kids have dreamed about starring in their own movie or perhaps being the man behind the camera and seeing their imagination come to life. Most of said kids grow up with that passion growing inside of them and then go on to create their own little movies. A filmmaker’s dream is to see their work shown on the big screen for the recognition they deserve.
The Northern Arizona Student Film Festival debuted in the spring semester of 2011 as a way to showcase the achievements of students from the School of Communication. Because it was so well received at its first showing, the festival has become a semi-annual event occurring at the end of each semester.
Danielle Cullum, senior electronic media and film major and director of the film festival, explains the benefits to being a part of such an event.
“A lot of the times, you know, these students do these video projects and they never get viewed further than the class that they did it for and maybe get posted up on YouTube so their friends or family can see it; this a way for us to take these projects even a step further and show them to the community,” Cullum said.
This chance for exposure is an invaluable opportunity given to student film makers. Two winners will be decided, one by a panel of judges made up of faculty members and the other voted on by the audience as their favorite.
“The faculty winner and the audience winner will both be shown at the Sedona Film Festival next February, so that’s a nice prize,” said Paul Helford, faculty advisor of the student-run television station UTV62.
The world-class Sedona International Film Festival boasts over 16 years of showing independent films and has been voted one of the best regional festivals in the United States. This annual event features documentaries, short films, animations and student films. The festival has hosted previous celebrity guests as actors Nicholas Cage and Ed Asner.
Students get the chance to see their work on the same screen as big feature films.
According to Cullum, “Any student is eligible to submit a film, not just School of Communication students or EMF students.”
Many of the films do come from EMF students though and some of the productions from UTV’s 73 Hour Film Festival will be included as well.
“We go from Cline Library, which is a wonderful facility where we show the 73 Hour Film Festival entries, to the Orpheum, to the Sedona Film Festival,” Helford said. ”That’s something that we really feel very good about in giving our students more and more professional venues for their work.”
Film submissions are chosen and reviewed by a student committee before getting approval to enter the festival.
Senior electronic media and film major Danger Charles has been working on a film to submit along with his friend Jon Goodrick, a sophomore painting major. Their project, titled Gods of the Flies, was done using puppets rather than people as a way to avoid the stress involved with trying to work around actors’ schedules.
“I thought, ‘No, this is perfect, now we’re in complete control of the subjects of our film.’ But that’s not how it works,” Charles said with a laugh. ”They’ve got feelings. We are a slave to the puppets. It’s a serious project and the puppets are the task masters.”
“We’re stoked on the final product,” added Goodrick.
One major obstacle to making a movie is the cost of the necessary equipment; it certainly doesn’t come cheap to have nice cameras and build the sets and props. Charles and Goodrick were able to get enough money to make Gods of the Flies primarily through a website called Kickstarter.
Kickstarter calls itself “the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.” The idea behind it is to allow backers to make donations of any value towards projects that they’ve taken an interest in and the creators must raise their set goal within a certain time limit or they don’t get any of the funds.
“I raised some money from family and friends and a few random dudes online,” said Charles.
Friendly strangers aside, the process involved with completing a film is arduous and taxing. It’s not exactly a walk in the park to film scenes from just the right angle while simultaneously making sure everything goes smoothly and then editing all of the footage together at the end.
“We’ve just been working nonstop since the end of February pretty much,” Charles said. “All of my free time is consumed by this and pretty much all of Jon’s too.”
The festival is still in its beginning stages and going through changes to fix the kinks and make it better.
“I would hope that it becomes a student-run project much like the student media is, like The Lumberjack and UTV,” said Helford in regards to the future of the film festival.
Once more students are aware of the opportunities available to them through it, this event will be able to expand and become even more successful. It can provide valuable real-life experience for those interested in the movie business.
The festival starts at 6 p.m. this Sunday, May 6 at the Orpheum Theater. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $3 for students.