Rambunctious laughter spread quickly over the audience as the comedic short film, “Ghost Hunters,” by Christopher Serrano played. Many were dressed nice and were itching to watch student-made short films. The event was no other than the annual Campus Movie Fest.
Campus Movie Fest (CMF) boasts itself as the world’s largest student storytelling platform. This filmmaking event gives students the opportunity to make their ideas come to life. Participants are given the equipment needed to make a five-minute short film in one week. Their website contains over 20,000 short films made over their 16 years of existence.
Beginning back in 2001, four students at Emory University provided their classmates with all they needed to make a movie in one week. Ever since then, CMF has reached over one million students at hundreds of college campuses, not just in the U.S., but also in Mexico and the UK. CMF encompasses 50 schools each year as it is also a competition, meaning that the best films get to win awards and prizes at the event.
There are four main steps outlined in the Campus Movie Fest Guidebook to ensure a good understanding of how to go about it all. First, there is the info session. The info session is where everything is explained as well as questions answered about filmmaking and editing techniques, how films are split into what categories as well as an emphasis on interconnectedness within student filmmakers.
Next is the launch which took place in the EUC Auditorium. Here is where they hand out all the equipment – camera, headphones, microphone, tripod and laptop (if needed) – on a first-come first-serve basis, and answer any questions. Throughout those 7 days of filming, tech-support is provided via phone and email. Collection day rolls around after a week. This is where the free equipment is given back and your film is submitted. Premiere is the main event. The top 16 movies are shown on the big screen where awards and prizes are given, including the Silver Tripod and Jury Awards. The main event was open to all who could attend.
The doors at the Premiere opened at 7 p.m. with the screenings starting at 7:30 pm. The three blocks of films that were shown, a total of 16 films, were filled with laughter, sadness and inspiration. One documentary short film, “41 Shots,” was based on a true story about the death of 21 year-old Guinea immigrant, Amadou Diallo. In a scene that captivated the audience, the actor playing Diallo was bleeding out on the street as the scene shifts to a smoking gun. One could tell there was a shift in the air as this scene unraveled, as the audience seemed to be holding back tears.
But as they say, laughter is the best medicine. “Ghost Hunters” lightened the mood from the beginning, setting up the mood with big smiles. “If you’re wondering why my face is all covered up, it’s because I was at Olive Garden and the waiter spilled hot alfredo all over my face,” a character named Alfredo Dingus proclaimed in the film. “So if I can take hot pasta, I can take on spooky spectacles.”
The mood shifted slightly at the showing at the film, “Micah.”
“Micah,” showed a conversation between a man with wealth and a man with nothing. The film revolved around the Bible verse, Hebrews 13:2, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it.” Many sounds of understanding escaped the audience’s lips as their hearts were moved to understanding the premise of the short film and ultimately the premise of the quote.
Campus Movie Fest ended as people moved their bodies through the doorway while their minds fiddled with ideas for films for next year.