Far away from the lights and cameras of tinsel town, film making seems like a concept that is as far removed from Abilene as the Hollywood sign is from the GATA fountain. But, for a few students, film making is their passion- a passion that will be celebrated at the 12th annual FilmFest.
FilmFest will take place Friday April 1, at the historic Paramount Theatre. The doors to the free black-tie event will open at 6:15 p.m. and the show will begin at 7 p.m. Concessions can be purchased with cash before and during the show and refreshments will be served on stage following the end of the show.
The planning for FilmFest began last September when the FilmFest leadership team met to sort out the different workshops that would be held for the film teams and the details of the fest’s awards gala. It was also at this time when the team selected the competition’s theme, which is “Brave”.
“One of the reasons we picked brave is because it was open ended and we hoped it would inspire students in their creations,” FilmFest leadership team member Hailey Hendricks said. “But it also reflects back on the bravery that it requires to be a film maker and to try and work in this industry.”
A new development for this year’s FilmFest was the change in the production constraints that are placed on the film teams. In the past, the teams were required to include objects such as a newspaper or Rubik’s cube in their films to ensure they were filming during the allotted timeframe. Instead of having to include an object in their films, teams were required to attend 4 out of 7 workshops that took place from November to March. The teams had the opportunity to learn from a few faculty FilmFest judges and professionals in the film industry on things like screenwriting, camera movement and concept creation.
“What we’re trying to do is focus more on giving the opportunities for the film fest teams to work with professionals and gain meaningful experiences through workshops,” Hendricks said.
The contest also has a talkback session after the competition where the film teams can get feedback from the faculty FilmFest judges, which Hendricks says is just another opportunity for students to grow as content creators.
Forrest Lorenzen, sophomore multimedia major from Amarillo, and John Puckett, sophomore digital entertainment technology major from Amarillo, are on the FilmFest leadership team and are the co-directors of their film Super Secret Soldier Spy. For Lorenzen it was not a difficult task to balance his roles as leader and director, but some difficulties arose before his team’s cameras rolled. After battling location changes Lorenzen’s team’s production was pushed into filming about three-fourths of the film in just four days. Despite the challenges, Lorenzen said his experience working on the film has been a rewarding one.
“It’s challenged me just being able to work in a setting that resembles the industry and to be able to work pragmatically with the rules and regulations that film fest has put forward,” Lorenzen said. “It forced me to problem solve and creatively get around the challenges that were put in front of us.”
Erika Thrasher, senior journalism and mass communications major from California, is competing for the second time in FilmFest as the creenwriter and director for her film Man of the Year. Thrasher also came across some difficulties when her team was filming as well.
“The weather was not that great for the first couple weeks when we first started filming,” Thrasher said, “We definitely had to do a lot of reshooting.”
Like Lorenzen, Thrasher said her FilmFest experiences were beneficial and have helped her grow as a filmmaker.
“The first time I participated I really was not sure what I was doing, but I was also majoring in JMC at the time so those two things really helped me get to where I needed to be,” Thrasher said. “I would encourage anyone who wants to be a part of film making to try it. It’s a really great resource to get where you want to be in film.”
For the student filmmakers, FilmFest is not just a time for their name and work to be on the big screen, but it is also a time when they can send a message. In Lorenzen and Puckett’s film Super Secret Soldier Spy, a young boy who lives a troubled life tries to escape it through his imagination-a story Lorenzen said he hopes carries a message to those dealing with their own life troubles.
“We felt that we could really speak to a lot of people and maybe give catharsis to the people who have been through the troubles we’re discussing in the film,” Lorenzen said, “And maybe we can help other people who have been blessed enough not to deal with these sorts of things to understand those who have.”