For those who dream of being the next Spielberg, Scorsese, Hitchcock or Coen, the financing of their sure-to-be breakthrough films can often lead to headaches and heartbreaks. More simply put, movies cost money. Between cameras, lighting, editing software and a surely unending list of extras, the cost to make even a short film is often times insurmountable to an aspiring filmmaker.
Enter Campus MovieFest (CMF), the largest student film festival in the world, which supplies students with cameras, computers and training to produce five-minute masterpieces. CMF’s CSUN-stop kicks off today at noon at the Campus Theater. A team leader the only thing needed to sign up. Everything else is provided for free.
‘The goal of CMF is to showcase the next generation of moviemakers and empower people everywhere to share their stories with the world,’ wrote the founders on their Web site.
What started seven years ago as an offhand desire to supply students with the expensive necessities of film production by a group of friends at Atlanta’s Emory University, has grown to become a nation-traveling, moviemaking machine.
More than 100,000 students from 35 different schools in the United States and the United Kingdom produced more than 3,000 movies since the festival’s beginnings, when a group of 1,500 students joined the festival the first year, according to their Web site.
Aside from having national and international participants taking part in the competition since 2001, when it was deemed iMovieFest, more than $300,000 dollars in prizes have been given away until now. Corporate partnerships have multiplied with companies from AT’amp;T to Apple, helping students to tell their stories.
CMF passes on the benefits of their Apple partnership to festival participants by supplying students with Apple laptops, iMovie, and Final Cut Pro. They also provide a digital video camera and AT’amp;T handset for one week in order to give participants a taste of what it’s like to be part of La La Land’s directorial elite, even if they’re not film students.
While there may be few rules dictating the content of student films, one regulation is imperative: you only have five minutes.
‘College students know how to make a point quickly,’ said David Roemer, the competition’s founder, in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. ‘Five minutes, by today’s standards, is actually a lot of time to tell a story.’
In the festival’s seven years, students have become much more adept at using the technology offered by the organizers and telling worthwhile stories. The festival’s first year saw a plethora of ‘day in the life’ scenarios, Roemer said in the same interview.
Now students, inspired by celebrity YouTube videos, the success of Internet filmmakers and the accessibility of technology, are producing films with ease.
‘Campus MovieFest is for all students, not just filmmakers, because the technology is now incredibly easy to use while creating powerful short movies,’ states the Web site.
Though the project has grown beyond the four founders wildest hopes, the spirit of student empowerment remains the same. CMF plans on incorporating 50,000 diverse students this year and making 50 stops on their college tour, including six in the Los Angeles area.
‘As long as students have a story to tell,’ their website says, ‘CMF will be there to bring their tale to the world.’