Sunday, March 22, 2015

Campus MovieFest

In just over two weeks, on April 8, Fordham will begin its seventh round of Campus MovieFest (or CMF), a national student film competition that takes place at colleges around the country. The challenge? Create a short film under five minutes long in just one week.

CMF provides students with all the basic equipment, including a Panasonic HD camera, microphone, tripod, and a Macbook Pro equipped with tools like Adobe Creative Cloud. After a week, CMF collects all of the movies for judging. The top sixteen films will screen on April 22nd--the same week as Spring Weekend--at a red carpet showcase in Keating Auditorium. There will be prizes given away the Fordham showcase, and the top four films go on to the CMF Hollywood Festival to compete for even bigger prizes.

Last April, I entered Campus MovieFest for the first time. My friends and I had little-to-no experience making films, but we decided it'd be a fun project. Our film, Mine, centers around a spoken word artist who performs a poem as a way to gain closure and strength after ending an unhealthy relationship. Even though we knew the production quality wouldn't be perfect, we tried our hardest to portray a realistic, nuanced portrait of domestic violence.

Production stills from Mine (cinematography by Fenizia Maffucci)

My friends Joe Gallagher (who I'd previously acted with in a play on campus produced by the Mimes and Mummers) and Sarah Davis also joined me onscreen. Sarah and I co-wrote the poem that my character recites in the film while Shannon Morrall produced, Fenizia Maffucci filmed, and Amanda Pell composed the score.

CMF doesn't notify you if your film has been selected for the showcase, so naturally the premieres get a good turnout from both filmmakers and friends. Our team was excited to see Mine show up about halfway through the showcase. I was definitely embarrassed about seeing my face on such a big screen, but I was equally proud of how it turned out, considering our general lack of experience. We also just had a really fun time at the showcase; the final sixteen films were really entertaining and diverse. Some were funny and romantic, others were scary, and some films, like ours, tackled sensitive subject matter. I would've enjoyed the CMF Premiere even if I hadn't competed.

Unfortunately we didn't win Best Drama at Fordham, but that didn't slow us down. All the finalists at each school have the opportunity to submit their film into the CMF National Wildcard round. After facing off with other Fordham films, and subsequently three different films from across the country, Mine officially became a national wildcard winner and got screened at the Hollywood festival!

In an even crazier twist, found our film sometime during our wildcard campaign and featured it on their website and Facebook. (Here's our Upworthy page!)

A screenshot from the day after Upworthy posted Mine on their Facebook page.
(PS. That is a stock photo, NOT a still from our film... I think even partial nudity is prohibited by CMF haha)

We received messages from allies and survivors around the world, on Facebook and on Tumblr.  We were beyond happy to hear that so many people identified with the film and felt more hopeful as a result. Our experience with Campus MovieFest definitely reminded us of the power and importance of storytelling.

Finally, on a sillier note, here's a few bloopers and deleted scenes from the making of Mine:

If you're an actor, a writer, or a filmmaker--no matter what your experience level--you should definitely enter Campus MovieFest at Fordham! 

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