Hard work fuels emotions in College Film Festival

Taylor Upchurch, Reporter

From taking their first baby steps to becoming locally known, the College Film Festival (CMF) is celebrating its 10th Annual Anniversary on April 25.  

The CMF is a 15 day process that is held within the Greater Cincinnati area which allows for students from multiple local universities to compete against each other to see whose film will be more deserving of the winning title.  The universities involved include the following: Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati State, The Art Institute of Ohio, Xavier, Miami, The University of Cincinnati Blue Ash, Brown Mackie College, and the Ohio and Illinois Centers for Broadcasting.

Chris Strobel, associate professor for the Electronic Media and Broadcasting program here on NKU’s campus, was the one who helped the film festival stand on its own two feet nearly 10 years ago.

“We [Strobel and colleagues] created it. It was born out of the 48 Hour Film Project. I was the Cincinnati producer so, I helped; I staged it and hosted the event after. I ran it for about three to four years. Then 10 years ago we just decided to do it here.”

Five of the twenty-one student-based teams are from NKU, along with another team that is a part of the alumni category. Each team was given an emotion to demonstrate within their film, along with three required elements; at least one of their characters has to be named Sadie Upshaw, the paralegal; they must use the dialogue “Tell me you didn’t say that!” at least once in their film, and they have to visually incorporate a symbol for the newly-reached 10 year milestone.

Allyson Mason, a senior majoring in electronic media and broadcasting, said her team, the Marauders 2.0, (inspired by Harry Potter) were not affected by the week-long cancellation of campus classes, but their shooting schedule quickly turned into a 10 hour day of filming.

“I won’t give any spoilers, because we have a big plot twist, but our element is fear/shock, and Sadie [Upshaw] is our main character. She is a paralegal and her husband has been killing prostitutes for 20 years. We started shooting at 4 p.m. and finished at 2 a.m., but we got it done.”

The Mauraders 2.0 incorporated the 10 year milestone symbol into the film by having the two main characters celebrate their 10 year anniversary.

Mason stated that despite the weather conditions, most of their shooting was held in the parking garage on campus and out in the snow at their producer’s house in downtown Cincinnati.  

“It [filming in the snow] was interesting. Our main actress had to wear heels, but we had to actually change out her shoes because she couldn’t walk out in the snow,” Mason laughed.

Mason has dealt with many complications over the years during her career as a student director, all of them leading her to where she is at now. However, this year she has taken the opportunity to refine all edits with the audio instead of directing.

“I believe we aren’t supposed to exceed seven minutes with our films. We already started rough editing, and we are already at nine minutes. So we have a lot of refinement to do to ours just so we can get below the seven minutes,” Mason said.

“Michael Potter, the local director for Plum Street Productions, always told me that ‘You are your biggest critic,” said Mason.

There are four different awards that the groups could win; Audience Choice, Best Use of Elements, Best Paperwork, and The Judge’s Choice, which is the overall winner.

According to Mason, they would like to win overall, but they are going for Audience Choice as well. Those who show up to the reveal on April 25 at the chosen theatre, will be able to interactively vote for their favorite film.

“I’m really excited to see what NKU brings this year. It would be nice to have the Judge’s Overall Choice, because then we could have the big trophy showcased at the school, and that would be a really big deal for NKU, but I think we are going for Audience Choice as well,” Mason said.

The teams have finished up their pre-production work, and are currently still working on their post-production editing. This past Sunday, March 1, both the student-based teams and the alumni teams had to drop off their final products. Then, on March 28, the students will have professional one-on-ones with film directors in the Digitorium here on campus.

According to Derek Cook, also a senior EMB major, there is a chance for possible advertisement for the CMF in the future with the help of his latest documentary. Cook’s documentary is primarily for his independent study class, but was inspired by his previous endeavors with the CMF.

“It [the main focus] is sort of more about the movie making process of the CMF itself. But I hope to use this to show the production of films,” said Cook. “It is certainly unique for what it is. Most are 48 hours, and this is more of a two week process with more integration between the schools.”

In hopes to educate others about the art of filmmaking, Cook has made an effort to document interviews with NKU’s team members during both the pre-production and post-production during this two week time span, along with Chris Strobel describing the event as a whole.

“I think it’s interesting because it’s outside of my original field with my current documentaries. I want to get something out that is different. This is a nice concentration on the film process.”

After the feedback is given by the professionals, the student groups will have another week to revise any and all elements that received recommended change. And on April 25, the films will be revealed at a local theatre, which will be decided when the reveal date draws near.

“It’s been one great experience. I really hope our viewers love our movie because it is fantastic,” Mason laughs.