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Students Get Reel Opportunities at Film Festivals

The road to Cannes may be a long one, but film students fortunately have a plethora of film festivals within their reach right now.

Student film festivals offer the next generation of filmmakers opportunities to showcase their work to a broader audience. They are a great way for student filmmakers to get exposure, recognition, and to find a niche for their films, according to Andres Tapia-Urzua, chairman of Digital Filmmaking & Video Production at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

“At festivals, students are getting input from those outside their inner circle of friends, family, and professors,” he says.

Student film fests are also a way for film students to find out who the competition is, says Diane Carson, president of the University Film & Video Association (UFVA).

“Film festivals give [students] more creative input and may prompt them to redouble their efforts,” she explains. “They say to themselves ‘hey, there are some good student filmmakers out there so I need to get my game up.’ ”

There are several types of film festivals and they can be found all over the world in all sorts of sizes. Some focus on specific film techniques and genres such as animated films, horror films, documentaries, short films, and experimental. Others focus on special interest groups (gay and lesbian, ethnic and cultural, environmental topics). While some festivals are competitive with films being judged by a panel and prizes being awarded, others are just celebrations.

Student film festivals in particular are designed to give college students, and in some cases high school students too, an outlet for their creativity. Campus MovieFest, considered the world’s largest student movie event, is just one of the many student film festivals available.

“[Film festivals] are a continuation of [students’] education,” Carson offers. “It takes students who are already serious about their work to a new level.”

A team of student filmmakers from The Art Institute of Pittsburgh had a “priceless” experience at one film festival. In April, six students from the school’s Digital Filmmaking & Video Production program attended the Columbia University National Undergraduate Film Festival, where their film “Priceless” received the Concord Award for best film voted by the audience. Nearly 600 audience members selected the 19-minute film as the best among eight finalists screened during the festival.

The film was created in a workshop conducted by Christian Lockerman, a faculty member at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and co-owner and head cinematographer of Lockerman Studios. Lockerman says he is proud of the recognition his students and their film received.

“The fact that they won the Concord Award was uplifting because it is actually an award in which audience members select the best film,” Lockerman says.

Another thing Lockerman found encouraging was that his students got to see how their hard work and dedication to creating quality content paid off.

“The avenues and methods of (film and video) distribution are increasing exponentially,” he says. “Our students need to be aware of good storytelling and how it’s not about just getting a crazy kid to jump off a building and post it to YouTube. Anyone with a camera can do that. It is about being able to tell a story through film.”

Student filmmakers are encouraged to seek feedback from audience members and network with other filmmakers and film professionals at film festivals.

“There are many people who can possibly help you with your career at film festivals,” Tapia-Urzua offers. “There may be writers, producers, and other professionals who can give you advice or may want to work with you.”

UFVA’s Carson adds: “Sometimes the best conversations happen at intermissions and after the event,” she says. “Be proactive and watch other participants’ films too. If you just worry about your own work, you may miss out on a great learning experience.”

Read the entire article HERE

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