Summer is barely a week away, so for the next four months, movie fans will be bombarded with frantic action spectaculars with big explosions and small brains. Good movies will be hard to find, but the College of Communication and the performing & media arts department are hoping to start the summer film season off right with the 2012 Student Film Festival.
The festival, which will be hosted at the Helfaer Theatre on Monday, May 7, features two main categories, fiction and documentary. The movies will then be screened for the audience, the filmmakers and the judges, who will name a winner at the end of the night. The event was introduced to the Marquette community last year, but the goal this year is to expand the festival beyond Johnston Hall.
“The work is already being created in our particular college, but the student film festival encompasses the whole campus,” said Danielle Beverly, a professional in residence in the College of Communication and a festival organizer. “What I’m finding out is that students are creating digital media in the education department, in the College of Arts & Sciences or in independent studies. This is going to allow all of those projects to hopefully be brought together, juried by professionals and presented.”
While the festival always hopes to grow, one of its main functions is to showcase the talent and hard work of the broadcast and performing arts students, according to Maya Held, an instructor in the College of Communication and one of the festival’s organizers.
“Sometimes, the perception is that (filmmaking) is a lot of fun, and you don’t do a lot of work,” Held said. “This highlights all the hard work that goes into the projects.”
Some of the submitted films are final projects for various broadcast and electronic communication classes, but in other cases, the festival offers a public venue for students’ personal projects and movies.
“If we didn’t have a film fest, we’d make (the movie), put it online and people may or may not watch it,” said Kyel White, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. “The film festival encourages people to see it.”
White is the director of one of the festival’s fiction submissions, “The Darkling.” The film is a murder mystery thriller that takes place during the 1950s. The movie gave White the chance to work not only in the creative side of film production but also with an unfamiliar genre.
“It’s a genre that I don’t watch a lot,” White said. “So it was challenging in a good way. The whole horror aspect was exciting, new and something that I may or may not get to do ever again.”
In addition to pushing filmmakers to create bigger and better projects, the film festival also offers directors, stars and writers the Hollywood treatment. Their films get to debut in front of an audience that doesn’t consist entirely of classmates, and they get to see their film on the big screen instead of on a computer.
“For a filmmaker, there’s no substitute for seeing something in a room on a big screen with others and hearing them gasp, laugh and react to your work,” Beverly said.
Film festivals are not just growing at Marquette, however. Famous events such as Cannes and Sundance have always been big times for movie buffs, but smaller showcases, such as South By Southwest and even the Milwaukee Film Festival, have shown increases in attendance and pop-cultural importance. Some note that the growing interest may be due to the lower cost and easier accessibility to quality filmmaking tools. Others believe it could be in the freedom and creativity of the content.
“In independent movies, you see a lot of things that you won’t see in major theaters,” White said. “Studios change things.”