By Jonathan Smith, Managing Editor
The university will introduce a film festival competition in the fall, and some hope it will one day match the popularity of and enthusiasm created by Sing Song.
Doug Darby, multimedia coordinator for the Adams Center for Teaching Excellence, created the idea for the festival and first announced it at Sing Song. He said the competition will give students a form of expression more in-sync with the 21st century.
“We’re looking to give them a creative outlet that hasn’t existed here and is something more on the edge of technology and expression,” Darby said.
Any student can participate in the film festival, creating a 5-7 minute piece in a team of five potential members: writer, producer/director, videographer, editor and technology engineer, who would handle visual effects, lighting and sound.
Teams will submit a written proposal for their films early in the fall semester, and a group of judges will review them to ensure the proposals are serious before approving them for the competition.
“We want people to be experimental, to be abstract, but we don’t want someone coming out there just to goof around,” Darby said.
Team members will attend a workshop Sept. 11 with classes tailored to each team members’ role, such as editing, writing or directing.
Darby estimated at least 45 teams will enter; those teams can use cameras provided over a two-week period in shooting the films.
Teams will then be given about a month to edit and store their films using a server provided by Apple Computers, one of the corporate sponsors for the event. Others include Peachpit Press, O’Reilly Press, Domino’s Pizza and others.
Apple also agreed to donate eight computer workstations, complete with software needed for the contest, said George Saltsman, director of educational technology in the Adams Center. Other sponsors have agreed to contribute three cameras, and the Students’ Association has provided funds for several more cameras, Saltsman said.
Films will go to a panel of judges, which Darby said will be made up of experienced and even famous people in the entertainment industry.
Already confirmed to be judges are alumnus Nelson Coates, film production designer and member of the Motion Picture Academy, and Dr. Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium, an international organization that promotes the development of media technology in education.
Darby said he is in discussion with alumna Bonnie Curtis, producer for Stephen Spielberg’s production company, and Michael Medved, a renowned film critic and author.
The caliber of the judges is the reason Darby said he wants to make sure film proposals are serious. Saltsman said he believes the level of judges is one of the best parts about the contest.
“The opportunity for students to showcase their talent in front of well-known and influential individuals allows students to receive an honest evaluation of their work by media experts and provides all students the opportunity to demonstrate their skills to a wide audience,” Saltsman said.
Teams can choose from three types of films to enter and will be judged in separate categories:
* Entertainment, which includes action, drama and comedy;
* Informational, which includes interviews and documentaries;
* Inspirational, a broader category encompassing more experimental videos such as reflections on faith and insight.
The Paramount Theatre will show the movies Nov. 12 at Premier Night, which is also when awards will be given to the winners in all the categories. Each category of film will have a best picture, and an overall best picture will be selected.
Darby said he has spoken with Apple Computers about providing iPods for the winners.
He said any student with any amount of imagination can participate in this project because students do not have to do all the work themselves.
“When you do this in a team environment, you’re not bearing the whole load,” Darby said. “It’s a very simple task.”
ACU’s film festival might not be the first in the country, but Darby said it is one of the first of its kind. He said ACU’s version will have more of a sense of competition, while most other schools’ competitions are not as structured.
Because of the popularity Darby has seen with similar film festivals at schools such as Duke University, he said he believes ACU’s festival will become popular.
“People love the movies,” Darby said. “To be part of the whole red carpet, the big lights, the whole deal, it’s like your 15 minutes of fame.”