UC Berkeley’s film community is small but mighty. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities for writers, directors, production designers and other filmmaking artists to demonstrate their range of visual storytelling techniques and talents.
From Sept. 6-12, Campus MovieFest, or CMF, will be at UC Berkeley, challenging students to make original five-minute short films. The festival staff provide students with free training and equipment, but it will be up to the student filmmakers to produce their own creative works from there. CMF is one of several film festivals on the Berkeley campus — including Grizzly Film Fest, hosted by cinema fraternity Delta Kappa Alpha and SUPERB Productions, as well as Cinebears Film Festival.
Through CMF, students are given approximately a week — along with a camera, sound equipment and Adobe Creative Cloud — to produce their films, which will be screened for a panel of judges tasked with selecting the top 16 submissions. Those 16 films with then be screened at a red-carpet premiere with a public audience on Sept. 18.
The top four films of those 16 will receive a Jury Award — which includes a one-year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud — and will compete at a national level. Those four films qualify for application to be screened at CMF’s booth at the Cannes Film Festival in France. While at Cannes, students can experience not only the festival, but also additional workshops with industry experts that are exclusive to CMF participants.
“We have a wide range of students who participate, so there are extremely dedicated film majors as well as people who have never picked up a camera submitting,” Julia Howard, marketing coordinator for CMF, said in an email to The Daily Californian.
One of those students was Winter Martin, who knew she wanted to be a filmmaker before participating in the CMF last year. She and her teammates were well-versed in the technical aspects of filmmaking, but participating in the festival gave them time constraints that enhanced their creative process.
“(To) decide in under a week that we were going to create a concept and bring it to life was the single most exciting and grueling experience, creatively, that I’ve ever had,” Martin said in an email to The Daily Californian.
Martin was the executive producer of a stop-motion film entitled “T.H.I.N.G.S.” Executive producer is typically a supervisory role, but with a small crew, Martin and her teammates all had a role in the creative process as well.
“The set designers and whole team really did an amazing job bringing my vision to life in such a short time,” Martin said.
Given that festival participants are given the short timespan of a week to create their films, shooting days can be long and arduous.
“(Consider) every second of a stop motion film… essentially we worked 17-hour filming days, for three days consecutively,” she said.
But the process was rewarding and “phenomenal,” said Martin, who, going forward, wants to continue acting and producing. She graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2017 and is now working as an associate producer in San Francisco.
UC Berkeley sophomore Luigi Sarracino also participated in last year’s festival. He wrote, directed and acted for his film, “By This River,” alongside only one other team member, Kevin Tavangari.
“The CMF experience is really fun and rewarding,” Sarracino said in an email. “The filming week goes by almost too quick to get stressed out, and so the process becomes less burdensome than it is for most other shoots.”
The time-management and prioritization skills he adopted through CMF will no doubt help him in his studies. Sarracino hopes to be an artist — potentially, a filmmaker.
CMF will be an opportunity for students looking to pursue filmmaking careers and students simply wanting to explore new creative frontiers. Folks who are up to the challenge of writing, producing, editing and finalizing their filmic visions in a mere week will no doubt stretch their creative muscles and excel — and perhaps even have the chance to screen their work at one of the most prestigious international film festivals in the world.