Students and faculty gathered Monday night in the W. D. Powell Theater for the 13th annual Union Student Film Festival Director’s Talk. Tuesday night many reconvened in Barefoots Joe to view them again and to hear the results announced at the Awards Show.
This year’s entries consisted of five Short-Form Films (less than ten minutes long) and two Long-Form Films (longer than ten minutes). There were several awards up for grabs, with nine technical awards, five acting awards and three cash prize awards.
The Director’s Talk on Tuesday night consisted of each movie being played and an interview with at least one member of the production team. However, many of the students involved in the films were unable to attend the show. This led to the event taking much less time than originally planned, with the intermission being cut out entirely.
Cam Tracy, Union’s web development agent, hosted the event, introducing each movie and interviewing the entrants. Many of the films entered this year were assignments for the Digital Storytelling class. Tracy commented on the dark tone many of the films took. The audience was exposed to movies dealing with murder, sedatives and funerals.
Nevertheless, the movies were enjoyed by the audience. Not only did they get to see the movies, but they got to hear a little bit about behind-the-scenes subjects, including difficulties that had to be overcome, location choices, makeup techniques and camera equipment. One movie was shot entirely with an iPhone 6. One was shot only in Nashville locations. One involved a lot of screaming in the woods (and apologizing to passersby). When Tracy finished asking his questions, he opened the floor to the audience, giving them the chance to find out what they wanted to know about the production of the movies.
“Plan your butt off, because Plan A is definitely not going to work,” said Sam Jones, student director. “I think I was on Plan Z by the end of this thing.”
The night ended with audience members submitting ballots voting for the SAC Students’ Choice Award, to be tallied and awarded Tuesday night.
Last night, many of the directors and production team members gathered again for the viewing and awards show held in Barefoots Joe. Speakers who had been unable to attend the night before were there to interview and answer questions, and after a brief intermission, hosts Abby Duke and Garyn McIntyre took over the stage.
Starting off with jokes about the size of the crowd (it wasn’t particularly crowded), and then moving into a recap of their experience hosting this year’s Oscars Ceremony, the two elicited a lot of laughs. Before announcing any of the winners, they gave a lovely a cappella musical performance, claiming that their tech team had gone on strike.
Finally, acting awards such as Best Male and Female Performance, Best Voiceover and Best Supporting Performance were announced. Winners stepped onto the stage to receive their certificate, and some gave short, impromptu and often humorous speeches. Technical awards came next, including categories such as Best Use of Music, Best Editing and Best Director.
Last but not least, the three cash prizes were awarded. “The Garden,” directed by Christian Al-Hagal won the $100 SAC Students’ Choice Award. “Jean Marie,” directed by Josh Stephans, won the $125 Best Short-Form Film Award and “Reunion,” directed by Sam Jones, won the $150 Best Long-Form Film Award.
“The Film Festival gives students a chance to show their stuff,” Tracy said. “Seeing it on the big screen really makes a difference. It really means more than just seeing it on a phone or computer screen.”
Some of this year’s films were for class projects, but some were projects driven solely by passion.
“This year we had a lot of really strong films, but we’re looking for new ones every year,” Tracy said.
Next year will be Union’s first year offering a major in film studies, so many submissions are anticipated from those students. However, any student is welcome to submit a film, as long as they are a Union student at the time of production.