Showtime!: Festival celebrates short films created by college students

Lights! Camera! Action! The College Movie Festival, in its sixth year running, gives Northern Kentucky University students a chance to learn about the process of making films by becoming filmmakers.

This year, a total of seven schools will be competing against NKU, including Cincinnati State, Xavier, Brown Mackie College, The Art Institute, Ohio College of Broadcasting and Western Kentucky University.

There are five required elements for all films: a character, a question delivered by the required character, a line of dialogue and a specific prop and an emotion (drawn by each group at the commencement of the process). All of these elements are determined by the College Movie Festival. Another requirement is that each film must not exceed the seven-minute running time.

With this type of project there are many things to be learned and experienced through the filmmaking process. According to Chris Strobel, an electronic media broadcasting professor, “it’s an academic process.”

All the tasks involved in making a film — writing, directing, cinematography, editing, and graphics — were performed by teams of students as a class assignment in Advanced Narrative Production.

For Stephanie Mathena, electronic media and broadcasting major and co-director of the Norse Film Society, part of the process was about working as a team and experimenting with new equipment.

“Although an ‘emotion’ was chosen for us (which limits certain ideas we may have had), it was an awesome experience being able to use my new Canon 7D on a real shoot and have the cinematography and video quality really pop,” Mathena said. “I also enjoyed the general group bonding experience while on set. Everyone had the same mission: to get the shot and get out of the cold weather.”

But with the sweet comes the sour, as students were able to learn how to deal with on-set problems, as well.

“What I enjoyed the least would have to have been the creative differences on choosing a script in the beginning. If the entire group isn’t pumped about what you’re about to be devoting the next week of your life to, then it’s not a happy situation,” Mathena said. “Also, being female directors [Luana Damonte, EMB student co-directed] we ran into some issues on set with being talked down to, which is never a fun thing.

“The EMB department is heavily male-dominated, which made creating a short film without any ‘penis jokes’ a little difficult.” she added.
The College Movie Festival screening takes place on May 1 at the Greaves Hall on NKU’s campus. For more information about the College Movie Festival, visit their website at

Story by Shawn Buckenmeyer