Campus MovieFest prepares students for future careers

Rowan students aspiring to be the next great filmmaker had their chance right on campus. The challenge was to shoot and edit a short film over the course of a week.

Campus MovieFest challenges students each year to shoot and edit a five-minute film with a free camera, laptop and technical training provided by the MovieFest staff throughout the week. Students submitted their films to the staff on March 11 with the hopes of being judged and screened at the Student University Programmers-sponsored fourth annual Campus MovieFest finale in the Eynon Ballroom on March 26.

Once the top 16 films are screened at the ceremony, the staff will award Best Comedy, Best Drama and Best Picture the chance to compete at the national level in Hollywood.

“There’s no requirements [to participate],” said Katie Cesario, the director of Cinema for SUP and organizer of Campus MovieFest at Rowan. “There’s no major requirements, no film requirements. Just go out there and have fun. So I think it’s something that’s really treasured by me and also by the student body.”

Chris Dumas, the promotions manager for Campus MovieFest, said each school he visits has its own style in terms of filmmaking. As for Rowan, Dumas said the students produce “smarter” content.

“They’re trying to reach something that reaches you on a more intellectual level,” Dumas said. “I think a lot of that comes from going to a smaller school. I think that allows the students a little bit more time with professors and to also grow as individuals and there’s a stronger knit family type of deal. So the structures in the movies seem to be a little bit tighter.”

One of the films was submitted by Paul Duvilla, the director and editor of last year’s Best Drama, “Time Goes By.” This year, he directed “Breaking News,” a film centering around a murder at a television studio.

Junior radio, television and film major Ally Hodgson produced “Breaking News” and was also a script supervisor for last year’s winner for Best Picture, “Girl Talk.” Hodgson went to Hollywood for the national finale and experienced workshops, movie premieres and had the opportunity to network with other industry professionals.

“[The experience] just really confirmed what I want to do,” Hodgson said. “I met these people and I did these things and I was like, ‘These are my people. These are my peers. These are the people I want to be with.’ And it really just confirmed that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

While Hodgson is still growing in the field of filmmaking, Dumas said he owes his entire career to Campus MovieFest. As a sports medicine trainer at the University of Alabama, he ended up acting in a Campus MovieFest film. The film won Best Picture at his school and was nominated second in Best Comedy at the national finale. Dumas then went back to school, changed his major and stayed in the entertainment field ever since.

“I think that’s a very rare thing nowadays that Campus MovieFest gave to me and I hope gives to other students,” Dumas said.

Dumas said every student gets a different experience out of the event.

“It can be whatever the student wants to get out of it,” Dumas said. “It can be a life-changing event. It can be a fun weekend with your friends and everything in between. So the gambit of things that this event offers students — for free — is really unparalleled.”

This year, Campus MovieFest has more student participants than any previous year. Cesario is looking forward to seeing the films produced by these students.

“With the biggest number of people [participating], there’s got to be lots of different movies and lots of different plots,” Cesario said. “So, I’m looking to see what we have going on this year.”

The top films will be shown at the Campus MovieFest Finale on March 26 at 7 p.m. in the Eynon Ballroom.

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