Film Festival to showcase students’ work
More than 50 films will screen at the second annual New Lens Student Film Festival, said Patrick Stettner, a professor at the Nicholas Music Center on Douglas campus.
University students spent Tuesday polishing and submitting the final edits of their films for the festival, which will take place on May 8.
Students in the Rutgers Center for Digital Filmmaking class as well as the Writers House Digital Storytelling class submitted the films, said Dena Seidel, director of the center.
Seidel said she wanted to give students incentive to try their best and submit films to the festival, so they can be recognized and have the opportunity to see their film on the large screen.
“You just need that real-time experience of having an audience respond to your work,” she said.
Students can enter their film into documentary, fiction, animation or film bureau editing categories, Stettner said.
This year the festival offers a new component, the film bureau category, for students working in the Rutgers Film Bureau, a component of the center that offers classes and also makes documentaries for University research projects, he said.
The Rutgers Center for Digital Filmmaking’s Film Bureau occupies two conjoined offices.
Bureau employees work in one room while students taking the “Advanced Documentary Filmmaking” class with Seidel use the second office to edit footage, said Steve Holloway, media director at the Rutgers Film Bureau.
“It’s pretty small for a place where three feature films are being made and students are being taught,” he said.
Holloway said he works fulltime with the Rutgers Film Bureau, co-producing and co-editing the bureau’s feature film, “Antarctica: Beyond the Ice,” and helping students in the class finish up and polish their work before the submission deadline.
Students in the class sort through the bureau’s raw documentary footage and edit segments to create an independent story for their final project, Holloway said.
It is hard for students to turn 40 to 80 hours of raw footage into a story within one semester, he said.
“It’s a lot of shooting, it’s a lot of editing,” he said. “It’s great because … we get a lot of creative liberties in terms of how we want to tell the story.”
Gabrielle Gatdula, a student taking the class, said she was putting together a story about Oscar Schofield, a University researcher who traveled to Antarctica for research earlier in the year.
Gatdula, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said she and classmate Taban Khan were finishing up their films to make the submission deadline for the film festival.
Khan, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said the portion she edited focused on University penguin biologist Donna Frasier.
“In the beginning I didn’t know anything, [but] when you have to transcribe the whole interview you learn automatically so much,” Khan said.
Gatdula said she is also submitting a small cinematography project. She wanted to submit another project but did not want to rush it to meet the deadline.
Gatdula said while he and Khan worked on class projects, the scenes they edited could later be incorporated into the actual documentary.
“I really feel like the students are really well polished in terms of putting together a solid movie,” he said.
Stettner, who also teaches at the center, said he expects over 50 film submissions for the festival.
The center teaches classic elements of narrative structure to students and gives them reins of personal creative design as they craft movies over the semester or year, he said.
“The film festival more than anything is about the celebration of their work,” he said. “It’s a nice capstone to the year.”
Stettner said the festival saw many genres of film. The jury, which consists of a panel of more than 10 faculty members and established filmmakers, is interested in originality, storytelling and character.
“It’s very hard because there’s a lot of great films,” he said.
Stettner said he arrived at the film center a year ago after being invited to help start up the fiction component. While Seidel focuses on documentary films, Stettner helped design and begin the fiction concentration, he said.
The New Lens Student Film Festival, then known as the Writers’ House Film Festival, began in the English Department as a small event held in a classroom, Seidel said.
The main purpose of the festival is to honor the students’ work and bravery in making a story for the screen, she said.
The event is free, open to the public and plans to provide free food.