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Underrated Film Schools

Just like college, going to film school isn’t for everybody. However, if you do decide that getting an education in film is something you want to do, you’re going to want something worth your time and money.

It is well-known by many that New York City and Los Angeles are the two major cities in the United States to go to get involved with the film industry, so many people will flock there to go to get educated. There are a number of great schools in NYC and LA, but here are a few places you can get educated in film elsewhere.

Ithaca College

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Located in Ithaca, New York, Ithaca College will be the only college mentioned in this post that is in the same state as either NYC or LA. I wanted to stay away from those two states, but Ithaca College provides the opportunity to several degrees and opportunities in film. For that reason, I decided to include it in the list.

Ithaca College has undergraduate programs in Cinema and Photography; Documentary Studies and Production; Film, Photography and Digital Arts; and Writing for Film, TV and Emerging Media. There is also a minor and non-major coursework available.

Colorado Film School

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Colorado Film School is located in the city of Denver and offers undergraduate programs in Screenwriting, Writing and Producing, Writing and Director, Acting and Directing, Cinematography, and Post-Production. Each program also has a shorter certificate track available.

Northwestern University

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Located in Evanston, IL, Northwestern University offers a variety of different degrees, but the main major that filmmakers should take interest in is Radio, Television and Film. It’s offered as a degree that can be completed on a full-time student schedule or a part-time student schedule. Within the degree there are three areas of concentration: production, screenwriting and screen culture.

Florida State University

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Florida State University is in the southern corner, farther from NYC and LA than any of the other colleges mentioned. It has a whole college dedicated to motion pictures with two intense undergraduate degrees–one is Animation and Digital Arts and the other is Production. They both have strict, rigorous four-year schedules.

I hope this helps with your decision for your educational future. Formal education isn’t for everybody, and that’s fine. Some people do decide to go to secondary education for film, and it’s important to know your options and what they offer. Good luck and happy shooting.

In-Person Resources for Student Filmmakers

As a student filmmaker, it can be hard to find places and people that share a passion for filmmaking. Unless you’re in a film degree at your college or attending a filmmaking school, finding a group that nurtures a creative environment can be quite hard. Here are a couple resources that I’ve compiled for the student filmmaker to go and create content with other students passionate about film.

1.Campus Movie Festival

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This is the most well known filmmaking resource for college students that I have come across. It was founded by David Roemer, Dan Costa, Ajay Pillarisetti and Vijay Makar, then-students going to Emory University. Since its start in 2001, Campus Movie Festival (CMF) has grown and now boasts millions of competing students from 30 participating colleges.

To be able to submit your short film, your crew must be made up entirely of undergraduate students from your university, but your cast can contain people not attending your school. Your short film can be no longer than five minutes (including credits) and can be made on personal equipment or equipment lent out by CMF. Equipment that can be borrowed includes a DSLM camera, microphones, tripods, Macbook with the Adobe Creative Cloud downloaded on it, and more.

The combination of providing equipment and a creative environment to students, CMF is a phenomenal, yearly opportunity for students to develop their voice as filmmakers.

Here are some examples of award-winning films from different participating universities:

University of Florida 2017: Jury Award, Silver Tripod Winner-Performance and Story

Lies

Atlanta University Center 2017: Silver Tripod Winner-Story

Easy Pickings

2.Film Analysis Clubs

In any university with a liberal arts college or a fine arts college, you will probably be able to find a film analysis club. At this club you will be able to find people passionate about film and the meaning behind the stories that they present. Its a great place to meet people who like to pick apart movies, and talking to these people will get you thinking critically of how you view and create films.

Here you can find some examples of Film Analysis Clubs:

Hunter College: Film and Media Club

Florida State University: The Film Club

3.Experimental Film Clubs

These clubs are a bit harder to find a universities than film analysis clubs. They are founded by students that want to push the limits of production and create films in ways that they haven’t seen before. This type of club will allow you creative freedom and technical practice with equipment, a cast and a crew. It’ll also push the limits and re-invent the post-production process.

Here are a few universities that do offer experimental film clubs:

The University of Oklahoma: Student Film Production Club

Columbia College-Chicago: Experimental Film Society
I hope these have helped you find a stepping-off point to find a way to meet people who love film just as much as you do and given you an idea of where to look for help with production.

Good luck filming.

The Best Online Resources for Filmmakers

Anybody who is even remotely knowledgeable about the filmmaking process understands that making a film is expensive. This is especially true for a filmmaker that’s just starting out and is trying to find their voice, preferred style and make a name for themselves.

These are some of the best online resources that I’ve come across for all you beginning filmmakers.

1. No Film School

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No Film School is a website that acts as community for filmmakers. It was founded by Ryan Koo, a film director that has a feature length film coming out on Netflix this year called Amateur. Koo created the website to be a place for filmmakers of any skill level, no matter their education level.

2. Shooting PeopleImage result for shooting peopleA cleverly name website community of 45,000 independent filmmakers that was established in 1998 by a group of six filmmakers. One of the founding six was Cath Le Couteur, a writer-director thats won a variety of awards from international film festivals, and another founder was Jess Search a documentary filmmaker who helped found the first British documentary foundation.

3. Indie Talk

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Indie Talk acts as forum for independent filmmakers. The home page seems to be a bit unorganized, but you just need to click on the forums tab. You’ll be greeted with a nicely formatted, easily navigated screen with a variety of forums and descriptions of what types of discussions go on in each section.

4. Go Into The Story

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This website was founded in May 2008 by screenwriters for screenwritters. It is hosted by Scott Myers, a screenwriter that found his first major success in 1987 with his film, K-9, and he has been with Go Into The Story since it’s launch.

5. Filmmaking Stuff

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According to the official about section on the website, “Filmmaking Stuff is a professional resource for independent filmmakers and provides tips on screenwriting, producing, crowdfunding, directing, movie marketing and film distribution.” The website was founded by Jason Brubaker, a producer based in Los Angeles, and serves professional advice for independent filmmakers.

 

There are a great number of online resources for starting, independent filmmakers. Different sites will work better for different people, but these five are the ones that have served me best.

I look forward to seeing all the great films that you make.

Make Your First Short Film

Whether you are thinking of going into the filmmaking industry or just need to make a short movie for a class project, making a short film is a fun and rewarding experience. The best part is anybody can make a short.

All you need to make your very own short is something that can record video and audio, a place to film, people to film and an idea.

The best thing for filmmakers in this advanced technological age is that their cellphones can often double as their camera and microphone.IMG_3043

All smartphones and most cellphones have a decent quality camera that can record video and audio. The iPhone 6 Plus (pictured above) can record video at 1080p with 60 fps (frames per second), which is the quality of most videos you’ll find on YouTube.

If you decide that you want to purchase a camera, but aren’t ready to commit to an expensive, complex DSLR camera, a simple point-and-shoot camera is the perfect option for you.

Point-and-shoot cameras, like the Canon PowerShot SX720 HS pictured above, offer a higher quality image and a wider variety of uses. The zoom on these types of cameras are much more powerful and clear than can be expected from a cellphone. A point-and-shoot camera can also take just photographs, if you decide that film isn’t for you, but you still want to take nice pictures on your next vacation or family gathering.

Another thing that you’ll need as a filmmaker is an editing software. Most personal computers include a basic form of video editing programming already downloaded upon purchase.

Apple users, you have iMovie as your free video editing software.Screen Shot 2017-03-23 at 6.40.40 PM

It has all the capabilities that a basic editing software will need for a beginning, or one-time, filmmaker to make their short: add and edit audio, cut and move video clips, overlay text and photo on top of video and add and edit transitions.

For all you who own a Windows computer, Windows Movie Maker is the free video editing software downloaded and at your disposal.

Image result for video editing software on windows*Image courtesy of Google Images*

Windows Movie Maker is the Windows user’s iMovie equivalent. The two editing softwares offer a lot of the same features: add and edit audio, cut and move video clips, overlay text and pictures on top of video and add and edit transitions. The only distinguishable difference is format and layout of the softwares’ display.

Now that the equipment is taken care of, you’ll need to find people and a place to shoot your short. Just like with the camera, there are a couple of levels of cost that you can go with. Since we’re talking your first ever film, I’m going to stick with the lowest cost level: free.

Finding free actors is easier than you think. More often than not you can ask friends and family that you don’t mind working with, and they’re usually pretty willing to help you out. If you’re friends and family are really against being in a film, there is most likely an acting or theatre club at the local college with students willing to help to gain experience. No matter who you use in your film, be sure that you get your actors to sign talent release wavers. This basically says that they’re consenting to being in your film and are okay with you distributing it.

Free places to film are pretty easy to find as well. Anywhere on a college campus is usually free game as long as its not disrupting the learning environment. Your private residence, or the private residence of a friend or family member, is free, too. Going off campus or out of your living space to a park or residential area might have different rules regarding filming in the are. Be sure to look up your local laws in regards to filming in certain areas just to be sure.

So now you have almost everything that you need to make your first short film: who (your actors), where (film set) and how (camera and editing software). All that’s left is something that no blog post or newspaper article will tell you: the what.

What will your film be about? Will it be a satirical comedy or a thrilling horror? Is it going to be a documentary-style short, or is it going to be stop-motion? That is something that you are going to have to decide for yourself.

So start brainstorming and get shooting.

The People Behind Oscar Shorts

The Oscars! Everybody’s talking about them, especially the mix-up for best feature film at the end. Instead of focussing on the show of the Academy Awards, I want to talk about the filmmakers who made the art that we were celebrating–specifically the makers of shorts.

Alan Barillaro was the director and producer of Piper, winner of the Academy Award for best animated short. Kistóf Deák directed the Oscar winning live action short film, Sing. The director of the Academy Award winning documentary short subject, The White Helmets, is Orlando von Einsiedal.

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Alan Barillaro was is a Canadian born filmmaker that worked on their Oscar-winning film with producer Mark Soundheimer. He is one of the most well-known, and most interviewed, of these directors. He was interviewed and featured on a numbered of media outlets, like the Los Angeles Times, Vanity Fair, and Business Insider.

He has worked on other shorts and feature film during his time with Pixar as an animator. He even supervising animator in WALL-E, but Piper was the first project of Barillaro as the director and writer. Image result for kristof deak

Kristóf Deák is a filmmaker from Budapest, Hungary and splits his time between his hometown and London, England.

According to his website, he got involved in film through his passion for music and a job as an editor. He has worked on two other short films, Losing It and The Boss. Deák also has a couple music videos and a television series in his portfolio as well as a personal Vimeo that he uses to promote his projects.

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Orlando von Einsideal is another director that has gained public attention. He is an employee of Gain Media, and has been featured in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.

He has worked with some very notable companies and people in the film industry like Netfilx, Google, Leonardo DiCaprio. Most of his work has been documentaries, like his Award Winning short documentary The White Helmets, but he has done other projects for companies.

Watching the final product of a short film is important, but we shouldn’t forget about the directors behind them.They’ve often dedicated years of their life to these projects, and it is important to recognize the work that they commit to their films.

*Pictures curtesy of Google Images

10 Short Film Festivals in Florida

Whether you are a film fanatic or an aspiring filmmaker, going to a film festival can be entertaining and rewarding. Film festivals that you always hear about are grandiose and expensive. Major festivals, like Cannes Film Festival in south France, can draw big-name producers, directors and actors with even bigger films.

Not everybody can afford to travel to France and snag a ticket to notable film festivals, thought. Here are ten film festivals made for short films or have short film categories that are a little closer to home.

  1. Florida Experimental Film/Video Festival-Gainesville, Florida

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This film is organized and executed by the volunteer members of UFLEX (University of Florida Experimental Film/Video) club on the University of Florida campus. According to their website, there are two different types of festivals. They alternate every year between competitive and invitational.

FLEX Festival will take place in February this upcoming year. Submissions, no matter what festival year it is, are due the summer before.

2. Miami Short Film Festival– Miami, Florida

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This film festival is a bit on the higher-end of the smaller festivals. According to the festival’s website, it only accepts films from one to thirty minutes long, and the purpose of  the festival is network and encourage other members of the industry.

The film festival will take place in November this year, and sports a variety of categories for submissions.

3.Cinema Verde International Environmental Film and Arts Festival– Gainesville, Florida

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Cinema Verde is bit more of a specialized film festival as far as topic, but it still provides a great creative and networking opportunity. It takes place at the University of Florida Hippodrome, and according to the website, it is used to teach the public about the environment through film and other art mediums.

There are three different deadlines available for the festival, all with different entry fee prices. Early bird registration normally due by mid to late July. Regular registration is usually due by the end of September, and the final deadline for all films is in early October.

4. Orlando Urban Film Festival– Orlando, Florida

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The Orlando Urban Film Festival is a showcase for film as well as music. Its several film categories are judged by a panel of judges that have held jobs in the industry, and according to their website, the offer one-on-one, in person advising to filmmakers. OUFF also has educational programs for middle and high school students interested in working in the film industry.

OUFF will take place in mid-November this year, and submissions are open.

5. Stamped Pensacola LGBTQ Film Fest– Pensacola, Florida

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Stamped held its first festival in 2012. The festival focuses on LGBTQ issues, so films that are submitted should feature an LGBTQ experience, and actor/actress in the LGBTQ community or a producer or director within the queer community.

The Stamped LGBT Film Fest in Pensacola normally holds the event in mid-October.

6. Jacksonville Documentary Film Festival– Jacksonville, Florida

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This film festival has no competitive aspect to it. The purpose is to support and inspire fellow filmmakers as well as network with people in the industry. The website stated that the main reason for the festival is to nurture “authenticity and creativeness.”

The Jacksonville Documentary Film Festival will be held  in mid-September this year.

7. Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival– Melbourne, Florida


Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival (MIFF) deals largely with short films. They accept feature length films, but the many more restrictions and a longer paper trail. The website specified that short film submissions are allowed to be a maximum of 25 minutes.

MIFF, like Cinema Verde, has several different submission dates available. Early bird registration is accepted through early May. Regular registrations are accepted through early June, and any late submissions will only be accepted through early July with a largely increased registration fee.

8. Film Noir Shorts Competition– Miami and Key Largo, Florida

The Film Noir Shorts Competition was created to foster the up-and-comers of the film industry in the state of Florida, specifically student filmmakers. The festival is partnered with Black Sun Film Noir Foundation to provide beginning filmmakers with this opportunity.

The festival is free and open to the public, and it will take place in mid-November this year.

9. Central Florida Film Festival– Ocoee, Florida

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The Central Florida Film Festival is for cultivating and promoting the growing media talent in the state with a primary focus on film. According to the website, this film festival was created in 2005 by Bob Cook and Brandon Arrington.

Submissions for this year’s festival are now being accepted. Early bird registration is due in late February. The regular deadline is in early May, and the submission will be considered late up until early June, when submission will no longer be accepted.

10. Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival– Tampa Bay, Florida

Image result for tbuffThe Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival (TBUFF) was created by Bay Area filmmakers and other industry professionals to make sure that independent movies that were produced did end up forgotten. TBUFF is also open to other types of film, not just low-budget indies, though these are the main focus.

Submissions are now open for this year’s festival. The final deadline will be in early October.

 

Film festivals are everywhere and open to just about anyone. Some are for competition; some are for shining light on a specific topic;some are for connecting with other creative people who share your passion. So, no matter whether you are a filmmaker or a movie buff, film festivals are not unattainable events for celebrities and masses of paparazzi, but rather available for everyday people and beginners in the industry.

Why are Short Films Important?

When people think of the film industry, the first thing to come to mind is rarely short films, even though they are a major part of the business.

This post made by the New York Film Academy gives a comprehensive list of film festivals taking place around the globe, and a vast majority of them include one or more categories for short films.

Short films, or shorts, are even produced by large movie studios. Pixar released a short titled “Piper,” that is nominated for an Academy Award. Disney produced a short titled “Frozen Fever” in response to the immense success of the feature film, “Frozen.”

So why are short films so popular among both major corporations and independent filmmakers? What makes shorts such a notable part of the film industry?

It all comes down to two main reasons: affordability and creativity.

People like when things are inexpensive. When a film takes less financial investment to make, producers are more likely to complete the project.

Major corporations are likely to take a risk with a short because they can gauge the audience’s reaction by doing a pre-screening at a film festival. If it’s received positively, the short might be paired with a feature-length film. If the audience’s reaction is negative, the business will have invested so little in proportion to other projects that they can afford to move forward with minimal financial damage.

Inexpensive films are also popular among independent, up-and-coming filmmakers. It provides them the opportunity to build their repertoire and expand their experiences in the industry. Shorts also allow an amateur filmmaker to make a film without having to invest the amount of money needed to produce a feature-length film.

Creative freedom is also something that carries a lot of weight in the film industry.

Shorts will likely appeal more to filmmakers in large corporations that commonly have to jump through a series of hoops to get projects approved. Since a short film will take less to produce, corporations will probably be more likely to allow filmmakers to take more creative liberties.

Having creative freedom on a project also appeals to independent filmmakers. Before they are contracted by employers, up-and-coming filmmakers will need to create a portfolio of their work. Short films will allow them to develop and showcase their artistic style.

Despite their less-than-visible presence in mass media, short films play a major role in the film industry. They are cheaper to produce, making them more accessible to any filmmaker. Shorts let filmmakers take creative risks which often lead to commentaries on relevant topics or experimentation in filming styles.

So, don’t let their limited length fool you. Short films have been around for as long as the film industry, and they are not going anywhere any time soon.