Students use Campus Movie Fest to tell stories, move on to national competition

The Campus Movie Fest is an organization that travels to college campuses and organizes student film festivals while giving students access to the necessary equipment to create their short films. ORACLE FILE PHOTO

Filmmakers with the ambition to launch their movie visions to the big screen walked the red carpet in their bow ties and ball gowns in anticipation of the annual Campus Movie Fest (CMF) on Monday.

According to CMF, this was the world’s largest student film festival to date. CMF is a national program that comes to universities with equipment students can rent out to make a short film to be entered into the school then national competitions. The event  took place in the Oval Theatre and showcased the top 16 films and awarded the top three with a one year Amazon prime subscription, a year supply of editing software and a chance to compete at the national level.

This year, 865 students participated, making it the second largest number of movies submitted. The 111 films this year broke the record of last year’s 77 submissions.

This year’s chosen films got laughs from the audience with comedic vine recreations and exaggerated fight scenes, as well as captivated silence for films exploring the topics of bullying and mental illness.

The three winning films advancing to the national level to compete on behalf of USF are Just Like You, We Are American. and The Return.

Shelby Bachnic, a freshman majoring in advertising, shared her movie Just Like You, which discussed her uncle’s struggle with bipolar disorder and his perseverance. Bachnic said her objective was to create a documentary that was both thought-provoking and inspiring.

“I knew it was a good film, but I never knew how high the standard was because this is my first year presenting,” Bachnic said.

Bachnic’s compact timeframe of filming, which consisted of three days, resulted in what she described as exciting and fast pace.

“This experience was one of the happiest moments I have had in my whole life,” Bachnic said.

Banchic said she is hopeful for the national competition, but is content with the award she has already received.

Lena Shafie, a sophomore majoring in civil engineering, presented her film We Are American. and admitted that her award-winning movie was brainstormed in the shower the night before she dove into her week of filming.

The movie shared Shafie’s views on immigrants and their impact in the U.S.

“In my film, it was a limited definition of their (immigrants) impact,” Shafie said. “Depending on what is happening in the world, the definition will always be able to broaden at various points in our time.”

Shafie said she intentionally skipped class and worked to create an adequate film to her liking, but she said the experience was worth the absence. The process started with Shafie filming what she said was beautiful plants and nature.  

“Eventually I went on little adventures that I would have never explored without the creation of the film,” Shafie said. “I've seen and filmed parts I never thought I could capture.”

Shafie said she plans to take her work to greater heights by premiering her film as a social project and presenting it in front of the dean of students.

Guy Fisher, a freshman majoring in film and new media, based his film, The Return, on an excerpt from the Greek tragedy called The Women of Lockerbie. The film is focused on Jack, a father who lost his child in a car wreck to a drunk driver. During the mourning of the child’s death, Jack returns clothes that were bought as a present before his son passed.

“I wanted to do something people would never think about,” Fisher said. “Most people would not normally return the presents of their dead.”

According to Fisher, the most important aspect of his directing is the power of letting people feel. He said some people don’t have enough feeling in their daily life. The film got an award for best audience group and best acting performance.

“We thought the acting and the audio would hold us back, but after winning best performance I was all wrong,” Fisher said. “I’d like to thank the eye drops for making me cry.”