By Kevin Doyle
The College rolled out the red carpet for the 2018 Campus Movie Fest, the closest the College comes to the Academy Awards. Studio lights set up in Brower Student Center beamed down on student filmmakers and actors on April 19.
This year, more than 60 teams submitted a film, but only 16 of those films were screened.
Students lined up outside of the Student Center at 6:30 p.m. for the premiere in hopes of seeing their films appear on the big screen. Out of the 16 shown, only four received jury awards and moved on to the national level.
“It was just very tedious because we filmed in one day for about four hours straight and it really put into perspective the amount of effort it takes to make a 30-minute episode of a TV show,” said Rebecca Webb, a freshman interactive multimedia major.
CMF is the world’s largest student film festival. Students received Apple laptops loaded with Adobe Creative Cloud applications, Panasonic HD Cameras, Sennheiser sound equipment and external hard drives upon signing up for the event, according to CMF’s website.
With this equipment, students were given a week to shoot and edit original five-minute films to submit to the panel of judges made up of faculty, alumni and students.
At 7:30 p.m., the lively crowd waited for the show to begin as the two hosts, CMF touring event manager Quincy Bazen and freshman civil engineering major Zach Michonski, came on stage to provide an overview of the event and contest prizes attendees could win throughout the night.
Senior communication studies major Emma Streckenbein starred in sophomore communication studies major Jason Monto’s “How to Say Goodbye,” a drama about a girlfriend tired of her boyfriend’s irresponsibility. She won a silver tripod award for her incredible performance.
“I knew the film was good and I hadn’t seen it until tonight — it was a surprise — so I had no idea what to expect and as soon as I saw it I was blown away,” Streckenbein said.
Some films had less serious themes, like senior marketing major Tim Santoro’s “Mr. Bubbles,” a comedy about an imaginary friend who showed up 13 years too late.
In Brian Marino’s amateur film, “10 Hours,” the sophomore mechanical engineering major put a twist on the film “127 Hours,” in which a hiker gets trapped in a remote canyon. In Marino’s parody, the protagonist is trapped in Eickhoff Hall.
One of the only music videos submitted, “Time Thief,” directed by freshman mechanical engineering major Christian Simpson, earned itself a silver tripod award for best sound.
Following every four film screenings, the hosts led interactive prompts where audience members had opportunities to win prizes such as an Amazon Echo, a drone and a $100 Uber gift card.
A mini-competition posted on the Facebook group page, CMF at TCNJ Premiere 2018, encouraged filmmakers to bring the most audience members. Junior communication studies and interactive multimedia double major Lou Cacchione, the filmmaker who drew the largest crowd received a free cruise to the Bahamas.
As the premiere wore on, filmmakers were shifting anxiously in their seats and whispering to neighbors because with just a few screenings left, the odds of their film being shown grew slimmer.
“I was up until 3:30 a.m. editing on a Saturday night. It was ridiculous. I thought, ‘What if I don’t get screened after putting in all this work?’ But by the end, I was like, you know what, I don’t even care about that. I just told a story I really care about,” Monto said.
Jury awards were handed out based on three categories of criteria, according to Bazen. Judges consider the content of the film like acting and story, technical components like cinematography and sound and lastly, overall quality.
After the last film was shown, the jury award winners were announced.
The first winner was Monto’s drama, “How to Say Goodbye.” The next film, “Milkman,” was an action-comedy directed by junior communication studies major Kevin Walsh. The third winner was senior interactive multimedia major Keith Glidewell’s “Delivery.” The last award went to the quirky action-comedy, “Snapped,” directed by junior technology education major Evan Noone.
The winning teams rejoiced as participants rushed to the stage to give their victory speeches.
As a feeling of defeat hovered over students whose films were not screened, Bazen encouraged all students to send their films into the national film competition, TERMINUS, because they will be able to screen alongside the jury award winning films.
The four winning films will advance to TERMINUS in Atlanta on the weekend of June 15.
“This was the cherry on top. It was the most rewarding experience, and even if you’re not involved in film, you should totally come out and just do it because anything can happen,” Monto said.