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Campus Movie Fest award winner reflects on filmmaking experience

Shelby Bachnik, has won several awards with the documentary films she directed called “Just Like You” and “El Viajante.” SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Having created two award-winning films for Campus Movie Fest (CMF), USF student Shelby Bachnik said she knows what it takes to participate in the fest’s launch on Wednesday.

CMF tours participating colleges and universities in the U.S. teaching students how to create a five-minute film in one week. It is open to all students on campus regardless of their majors.

Bachnik, a senior studying integrated public relations and advertising, first participated in CMF in 2018 and won several awards with a documentary film she directed titled “Just Like You,” a film chronicling the life of a man living with bipolar disorder

“I knew immediately that I was going to participate again,” said Bachnik.

So she did.

Bachnik returned in 2019 to premiere her final CMF film called “El Viajante” which is a documentary that follows a man who immigrated to the U.S. from Honduras at 16 years old.

Bachnik already had in mind what kind of story she wanted to pursue before festival week started. She asked her best friend Ann Martin to join her as an assistant director even with no previous film experience.

“I knew I wanted to do a documentary again, and I knew I wanted to spotlight something controversial,” said Bachnik.

While Bachnik took the creative lead, she said Martin played a big part in helping her vision come to life.

“For me, my part was making what she wanted to happen, happen,” said Martin.

Martin, currently a junior studying statistics, transferred to USF last year. When Bachnik asked her to help her with “El Viajante,” she didn’t hesitate.

“It immersed me into the life of the campus,” said Martin. “For my first year at USF, I see it as the number one thing I did, the thing that was the most memorable.”

Documentaries aren’t the only genre of film students create for CMF — student entries range from thrillers and horrors to animations and musicals.

“There is a lot of creative freedom that I felt comfortable to pursue,” said Bachnik.

Exploring this creative freedom supplemented her work outside of CMF too, including internships and her education.

“Integrated PR and advertising is more creative,” said Bachnik. “My experience with CMF has helped me see different storylines in the world around me. It taught me further what the creative eye is.”

Even as a statistics major, Martin had a similar learning experience.

“It was good practice for time management,” she said. “For people that struggle with that, it shows that you need to learn how to schedule things and make sure you get it done on time.”

Working with CMF requires a combination of creative and technical skills, along with working under stress. Students are provided filmmaking equipment including a MacBook Pro, Adobe Creative Cloud and a Panasonic HD camera.

Bachnik said she had experience with filmmaking equipment prior to her CMF participation, but the seven-day window to create a five-minute film was still challenging for her.

“Prepare as much as you possibly can before the week starts,” said Bachnik. “Try to get as much as you can get done legally — plan. Have a game plan.”

Her emphasis on having a game plan comes from her biggest takeaways in her accomplishments with CMF— being timely and efficient.

“CMF definitely helped me learn how to work under pressure, that would be the key thing,” she said.

For anyone who wants to participate in CMF this year, Bachnik suggests they do some preliminary research.

“Find your favorite movies. Watch Oscar-nominated films. Try to learn from the best.”