Last night we had a short film festival here at UA. Of 16 student films, 11 were dramas. I made bingo:
This event is called Campus MovieFest. It gives you exactly one week to shoot and edit a five-minute movie, and they’ll even lend you a camera and MacBook to do it. At the end they screen the top 16 films. Most are actually creative and clever, some are a little iffy. The latter generally fall into three categories:
(Generally one or more of these applies to everything I do.)
Still, as long as you remember to calibrate your standards, the festival produces some pretty good stuff from all sorts of kids. Of course, it’s something else entirely for the film students. Sometimes they plot and plan all year long, waiting, until CMF week finally begins and they bust out in crack filmmaker commando squads.
My girlfriend Myranda is film major, so I got it firsthand this year. Ho boy, did I get it. For me, making a movie is a fun project. For her kind, it’s Thermopylae.
The buzz this year was a sci-fi flick called Manta. Supposedly the team used a crowdfunding site to raise $2800 for everyone to cut class, fly out to the desert for the week and also build a space station. Myranda was miffed.
I saw her point. It’s a five minute film fest open to everyone; this kind of thing is geared toward amateurism and creativity, not for the film school’s Spielbergs Jr. to roll out their heaviest Hollywood artillery. Well, baring certain special cases, of course:
But I wasn’t as worried about it. The judges are students and faculty from all departments, not just film. So while the Manta guys are thinking like film students, the judges are thinking like us layfolk.
This gives the little guy two advantages.
First, what film students think makes a good movie and what normal people think makes a good movie don’t always line up.
Second, the judges usually seem to get the spirit of the competition.
Each year we see pretty Vimeo fodder get upset by flicks that are rougher around the edges. It used to confuse me, but I realize now that if the judges judged simply on being-the-best-ness, we would always just end up with a handful of film school titans battling it out while everyone else beat eachother with rocks and sticks.
So the top 16 was a hodgepodge. You saw clever ideas without technical know-how and know-how without clever ideas, but most often films somewhere nicely in the middle.
The only problem was the last film of the night. It was about talking fruit; they picked it to end on a light note, which is fine. Unfortunately, to bring up attendance nobody knows beforehand if their movie will be screened or not, which meant this happened to everyone who didn’t get screened:
Manta got nominated for best drama. And that’s all it got. I thought the dialogue was great but the story lacked an arc, but whatever. The film that won the whole thing was a comedy about a hiring people to be living furniture, and I was very excited about that.
Oh, almost forgot, we made a movie too!