UCLA student filmmakers will walk the red carpet in the Ackerman Grand Ballroom on Thursday.
Campus Movie Fest, a nationwide film festival that gives college students the opportunity to create and submit their own original short films, launched its 10th year at UCLA on Nov. 1. The event is free and open to all students from more than 30 participating colleges and universities from across the country. Around 30 teams of UCLA students entered the festival this year and created projects after condensing their filmmaking processes to fit within a weeklong time frame.
CMF provides students with cameras, equipment and laptops to encourage more inexperienced filmmakers to participate, said Raghav Ravichandran, the video manager of CMF. Viviene Nguyen, a fourth-year chemistry student and the festival director of the Campus Events Commission at UCLA, said the organizers wanted to create a way for students to bring their artistic visions to life without having to deal with any financial constraints.
Students have one week to shoot, edit and submit their films, which cannot exceed five minutes in length, including credits. At the end of the week, a panel of judges made up of CMF representatives and faculty selected by CEC will choose the top 16 films to be screened at the red carpet premiere Nov. 16. The top four films will then go on to compete in June 2018 at CMF’s national TERMINUS conference and festival in Atlanta.
Kara Lukas, a fourth-year biology student, decided to participate in CMF as a way to pursue her interest in short films. Her thriller film, “Relaxeation” was written, directed, produced, shot, acted and edited by a two-woman team: herself and her friend Amanda Araque, a fourth-year economics student and Daily Bruin videographer. Lukas said creating a film between just two people, in addition to the time constraint, was a stressful experience.
The film began on a Google Document shared between the two of them, where they brainstormed ideas for the movie. After Araque wrote the script, the pair searched for props on Amazon and at stores in Westwood to incorporate into their film.
Despite the logistical challenges and the time-consuming editing process, Lukas said she is proud of the film she and Araque are putting forth.
“It’s crazy how long it takes to film and edit, and then the product is really short,” Lukas said.
Josh Castillo, a third-year English and Chicano/a studies student, said he used CMF to create a film that focuses on his hometown of central Los Angeles, a locality he believes is often overlooked by Hollywood.
“I wanted to see more diverse pictures on that screen in Ackerman,” Castillo said. “My version of storytelling is always about being diverse and trying to show some real perspective.”
His film, created by a crew of five students, follows the story of an aspiring actor who struggles to balance family loyalty and moral obligation after his uncle robs the actor’s good friend. The four-minute entry doubles as the first scene of the television pilot Castillo is working on, which focuses on Latinos pursuing careers in the Los Angeles entertainment industry.
Castillo said he looks forward to having a conversation about his film with his friends, both within and outside of CMF, to get their feedback and improve as a filmmaker.
Angela Gao, a first-year mechanical engineering student and member of Bruin Animated Filmmakers, created an animated film to break away from the live-action films of other filmmakers. Gao, who said she has little prior filmmaking experience, enlisted four other members of the club to collaboratively work on a submission that puts an innovative spin on the classic interview.
To make the film, they asked strangers on campus random questions such as, “What is death?” or “What is a fruit or vegetable that you hate?” They then isolated the audio files of these interviews and played the sound over two-dimensional animations of animals, which they created with Adobe Animate. The final product depicts an animated animal – rather than a person – speaking the quote.
The five members split the animation work equally among themselves so that each person drew for an individual section of the film. Gao and Judy Kim, a third-year cognitive science student, interviewed students and worked separately on animating different parts of the film. Gao said although one of the parts she worked on was only five seconds long, it required more than thirty drawings to animate.
Gao’s animated film is just one of 30 submitted films, which Ravichandran said he anticipates will feature a large variety of themes, stories and filmmaking techniques.
“I’m really excited to see the kind of content and creative minds that UCLA has to offer and the kind of stories that students have to tell,” Ravichandran said.
However, although CMF is technically a competition, Lukas said she sees the event as an opportunity for students to share their passion for filmmaking with the UCLA student body.
“I really haven’t thought too much about the competition process because, well, for me, I just wanted to put out a short film that I was proud of and that I put a lot of hard work and effort into,” Lukas said.