Hazel & Jack submitted to national festivals

Stay tuned for the Learning Studio: Year One Report. Here’s one of the profiles from the iBook.

Last fall, Lawson Soward and Caitlin Bradford submitted their first film to the Sundance Film Festival. It started with a conversation in January 2011 about a story idea Caitlin had been chewing on. The two of them began artistic design for the production in our screening room during the student grand opening in February. Lawson was the first in line in March when Canon made DSLR cameras available for checkout to student filmmakers. And the two of them spent Spring Break editing in the media lab where Adobe After Effects made the final montage possible.

Since 2004, students have produced 100 films for ACU’s FilmFest, a student short-film competition. The contest began as an iMovie contest with Apple providing access to iMacs and digital camcorders. By 2011, most entries were edited on Apple’s FinalCut Pro, so the move to DSLR cameras shooting HD video was a natural next step. Paul McAniff from Canon joined us for a pro video workshop the week before FilmFest officially kicked off, making Canon 5D bodies and pro-series lenses available for checkout through the Learning Studio.

The result of this unprecedented access and opportunity is a film like “Hazel & Jack.” At the FilmFest premiere downtown at the historic Paramount theatre, Lawson and Caitlin went home with 10 awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writer. The film wowed industry judges at the symposium the next day, where Randy Brewer, executive producer at Revolution Pictures in Nashville, Tenn., was the first to encourage them to submit their film to other festivals like SXSW and Sundance. “FilmFest was exciting to be a part of this year due to the beautiful photography in a lot of the pieces,” said Brewer. “I use the Canon 5D in music videos I shoot with major artists and the increased image quality really showed in the student films.”


Student Film: Hazel & Jack (2011)

FilmFest archive now online

Thanks to student media specialists in the Learning Studio, the FilmFest archive is now online. The blog contains lists of participants and winners going back to 2004 with links to all films on the FilmFest Vimeo channel.

The blog is built on the same WordPress system used to support class blogs and portfolios on campus. Student specialists are available in the Learning Studio for those working with campus blogs for the first time.

FilmFest Archive


Past Winners

For those who haven’t been going to FilmFest since the beginning, here are a few past winners.






8th Annual FilmFest at the Paramount

Thirteen student teams began work in February on short films in a range of styles. The Learning Studio again provided training sessions on getting the most out of the camera, whether students used traditional camcorders or one of our Canon 60D SLR check-out cameras. Thanks again to Canon for sending pro-series lenses as well.

This year we also put video lighting into the check-out pool as well with some Lowel Omni kits. Thanks to Matt and Nathan in the studio for evening workshops to help students getting started.

Student winners were announced Friday night, representing familiar faces and some new Freshmen groups.

  • “Pride of Life,” directed by Lucius Patenaude and produced by Adrian Patenaude, took Best Director, Best Writer and Best Actor for Nick Palmieri.
  • “Liberation,” directed and produced by Jacob Kitts, brought in Best Direction, Sound Design and Production Design as well as Best Actress for Jennifer Feise.
  • “Yemiffimey,” directed by Caitlin Bradford, earning Best Non-Dramatic Film and Best Producer, with Best Technical Director for Ben Weaver.

Saturday morning gave student filmmakers time with the judges for critiques and recommendations about future work. The panel of judges again included Randy Brewer (’93), Executive Producer at Revolution Pictures in Nashville; Kris Young, screenwriting lecturer at UCLA and the LA Film Studies Center; and Jessica Gray (’99), who has worked with Fortis Films most recently producing a PBS series.


24FPS next weekend

For fans of FilmFest, the Paramount will be hosting their annual short film festival next weekend, with programs Friday night (4th) and Saturday afternoon and evening (5th).

24FPS is an international film festival that brings important work in animation, documentary, and narrative film to Abilene. Watching a short film (20 minutes or less) is a lot like reading a short story, requiring the same economy and focus in storytelling.

Here are a few trailers in a range of styles to give you a glimpse of  what you’ll see at the Paramount next weekend.  (more…)

ACU FilmFest and Canon

This year student filmmakers involved in FilmFest had the opportunity to work with DSLR cameras with HD video provided by Canon. The Learning Studio managed checkouts for a wide variety of camera bodies and lenses, including Canon’s popular 5D we discussed in a recent post.

Friday night at a premiere event at the historic Paramount theater winners were announced.

  • “Hazel & Jack,” directed by Lawson Soward and produced by Caitlin Bardford, took home awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Producer.
  • “Smile,” directed by Ben Weaver and produced by Nathan Vail, earned the People’s Choice Award and Best Original Composition.
  • “The Reunion,” directed by David McMichael and produced by Trevor Cochlin, won Best Independent Film.
  • The screening also included Best Picture for last semester’s 24-hour FilmFest, “Pages,” directed by Jordan Havens and produced by Ben Weaver.

Then on Saturday a panel of guest judges met with students to provide feedback on each film as well as share their experience in the entertainment industry. Thanks to the judges for taking time to join us and to Tom Craig and his student production team for putting on a remarkable event.

And thanks to Canon for providing equipment that challenged our students to produce a higher caliber of work this year.