Rutgers students prepare for annual Campus Movie Fest


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Photo by Marielle Sumergido |

The Campus Movie Fest provides students with the equipment they need to create a short film over the course of one week.


The Campus Movie Fest (CMF) kicked off its annual film festival Tuesday for the competition's seventh year in a row on the Rutgers campuses.

Rutgers' CMF event launch was supervised by both CMF and RUPA. The CMF team consisted of five members: tour manager, promotions manager, video manager and two interns. RUPA provided six volunteers. Sean Brown, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said volunteers were paired during the shifts.

Buck Rogers, tour manager of the current CMF at Rutgers, shared details on the festival.

“Unlike your standard film festival that just accepts submissions, we bring you everything you need to make a film. We travel the country from campus to campus with a slew of film-making equipment provided by partners,” Rogers said.

The equipment provided includes a computer with editing software, cameras, sound equipment and a catalog of over 1,000 royalty-free songs, in addition to technical support. Rogers said that only the songs given can be used freely. In order to use songs not provided, students must obtain a release from the artist.

The students participating can apply in teams of varying size. Though they usually consist of between five and 16 members as there are no set limits. The teams, or “crews,” must be comprised of Rutgers students.

“To be a crew member, to work behind a lens at all, you have to be a registered Rutgers student. To be an actor, you can be anybody. We don’t limit the talent. But to participate in making the film, you have to be a student,” Rogers said.

Each team is given one week to create a movie that is five minutes or shorter. The films are submitted and voted on by a panel of Rutgers students and professors in a number of categories.

The top 16 films will be showcased at the Rutgers “red-carpet finale” on April 12, and the top four films move on to the CMF national competition to compete for the $100,000 grand prize.

The event is free and open to all Rutgers students and Rogers said up to 50 percent of students participating are returning members. The participants vary in background— some have no previous experience with the arts.

Austin Yip, a Rutgers Business School senior, is one such member. It was his second time attending the festival. He grew interested in film during high school and decided to join during his junior year.

Michael Shafran, a Rutgers Business School senior, was also a regular who participated two times previously.

Shafran first discovered CMF in his sophomore year after hearing about the event on Facebook. He then “picked up his film and camera” to participate. His film that year was a finalist at CMF.

Both Shafran and Yip are directors in their respective crews -- co-director in Yip’s case -- which gives them considerable insight into the film-making process.

As a director, producer, writer and sound designer, Shafran participates in “every aspect” behind his film. He enjoys the process, describing film-making as taking everything he has seen and making it his own.

Getting others to go along with ideas is the most difficult part. During last year's competition, his crew broke up from one such dispute.

Yip expressed a similar sentiment.

“It’s a really long and arduous process. Cause it’s really fun having an idea, and working with it, working with a team to create that idea. There’s a lot of challenges, trying to work around the schedule that executes the vision properly," he said.

Yip’s crew did not place during his first year in the contest.

When asked about his current chances, Shafran said he was unsure whether or not he could achieve his previous success.

“I expect to have a full movie with a complete thought and reasonably professional looking. As far as how the judges rule, I don’t know about that.” Shafran said, citing the growing popularity of CMF as a factor for his uncertainty.

CMF has grown in popularity every year. Even two years ago the quantity and quality of the films submitted were far below where they are now, he said.

“The level of competition has gone way higher. Last year, the screening, the films were way above and beyond the ones from the year before,” Shafran said.


Jonathan Xiong is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in biology. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum. See more on Twitter @ra567.


Jonathan Xiong

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