FilmFest premieres student films Under the Stars

[This week the Learning Studio’s Nathan Driskell contributed a story featured on ACU News that we wanted to share.]

In an ordinary year, the Paramount Theatre in downtown Abilene would roll out the red carpet for ACU’s FilmFest Gala, the university’s annual student film competition, now in its 17th year. But this year was, of course, no ordinary one, and so the festival moved outside for ACU’s first-ever FilmFest: Under the Stars.

Last Friday night as the sun set behind the Tower of Light, students and faculty watched this year’s films in the Beauchamp Amphitheatre and cheered award winners in 13 categories for excellence in filmmaking.

Read the full story on ACU News.

FilmFest hosts its first live-streamed gala

[This week the Learning Studio’s Nathan Driskell contributed a story to the ACU Today blog that we wanted to share.]

Six short films, representing months of work by more than 50 ACU students, were destined for a Paramount Theatre screening at the ACU FilmFest gala in early April. But when classes moved online in response to the coronavirus pandemic, so did FilmFest.   

On April 23, the gala, which typically draws a full house at the historic Abilene theatre, instead screened online during a specially produced livestream, premiering the year’s student film submissions in the first event of its kind in FilmFest’s 16-year history. The planning began in the Learning Studio, which has worked with FilmFest since 2011, but it soon included the help of staff and faculty members across the university to produce the 90-minute live broadcast.

Read the full story on ACU Today.

Student Highlights this Spring

We’ve put the spotlight on faculty creativity this week but didn’t want to miss the chance to share some strong projects from some of our graduates this spring. Whether they were spending hours in the Media Lab perfecting an illustration or they were attending advanced media training in Stage 1, students of all majors this semester took advantage of the tools, spaces, and training on offer in the Learning Studio to produce work that they could be truly proud of.

“All ACU students should take advantage of the Learning Studio regardless of their major. Learning how to create and share ideas has made me a better social worker, but it has also made me a more effective communicator. The AT&T Learning Studio is a prime example of ACU’s commitment to innovative learning.”  – Hannah Sims

The Learning Studio helped these graduating seniors and grad students leave campus with the skills to share stories with the world that matter. We can’t wait to see what these creators do next!

Student Projects

Year-Round short film
John Greer (senior, Multimedia)

We were excited to have 13 student films premiere at FilmFest this year, but one film caught our eye. For his 4th consecutive FilmFest, John Greer wrote and directed Year-Round. He also shot his film on one of our Canon 6D DSLR cameras with carefully composed shots that won the Best Cinematography award this year. You can find more winners from this year or John’s previous films on the FilmFest blog.

Wichita Mountains photos
Nicholas Cromwell (senior, Accounting)

In short afternoon training or weekend workshops, students are developing more confidence with their cameras. Nick has been doing the important work of any photographer–shooting as much as possible–and taking pictures wherever and whenever he is is paying off. Over spring break he kept shooting with friends on some hikes in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, and this last year his portfolio landed him a job shooting for The Optimist

Fostering Brighter Futures video
Hannah Sims (grad student, Social Work)

This spring Hannah worked with the Texas Council of Child Welfare Boards on a video project to improve perceptions around foster parenting. She filmed the spots in the One Button Studio and finished them with skills she picked up in Social Work classes producing media assignments. It’s exciting to see how skills developed for one project build the confidence to try the next one. Read more about Hannah’s project on the ACU Today blog.

ARAMARK Employee Appreciation video
Abbie Hamilton (senior, Marketing)

Lots of the projects we see are connected to media projects in classes, so it was fun to see Abbie’s music video produced with the staff of the World Famous Bean. The playful look of the project hides just how much work went into the editing, sound, and on-screen titles. Great way to end of the semester!

Outer Space infographic
Christi Lim (senior, Graphic Design)

As they approach graduation, graphic designers take a portfolio class where they get ready to share their best work with future employers. Christi spent hours in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop this semester polishing work like her infographics on the solar system and Frank Lloyd Wright for Ryan Feerer’s Information Graphics class. See the final product in more detail.

Episode Xmas Premiere

Thanks to the ACU faculty and students who joined us in the Learning Studio last week to audition for Star Wars: The Final Exam.

The #EpisodeXmas event went well and we wanted to share a quick trailer before you head to the theatre to see the actual film. The students brought great energy, costumes, and some mad jedi skills to the event.

In case you’re looking to create your own Star Wars trailer over the holidays, here were a couple blog posts on adding some Adobe CC magic to your next project.

    Special thanks to faculty who joined us on the day (hoping not to leave anyone out): Cole Bennett, Dena Counts, Brad Crisp, Cherisse Flanagan Houston Heflin, David Kneip, Andy Little, Steven Moore, Jason Morris, Laura and Mark Phillips, Brent Reeves, Tracy Shilcutt, Jessica Smith, and Jeanine Varner.

    Film Studies Projects

    This semester Al Haley and Kyle Dickson taught Introduction to Film for the first time and students were asked to produce a major project that demonstrated their mastery of core concepts of the course. Learning Studio staff spent several class days introducing students to camera movement, audio, and editing before they produced their projects in Camtasia and Adobe Premiere Pro.

    Here are a few of the final projects.

      Film Analysis Digital Essay – Working individually or with a partner, produce a short 3-5 minute analysis of a film from our semester that accounts for the technical aspects of its production within the context of the director’s work or genre. Your digital essay seeks to highlight an informed point of view with carefully chosen stills/clips from your film(s) synced to your audio commentary. (For examples of this type of video essay, see Tony Zhou’s Every Frame a Painting).

      Short Narrative Film – Working individually or with a partner, write, direct, and produce a short film, following ACU FilmFest guidelines, that builds on your working knowledge of story structure, character development, and genre this semester. The short film should demonstrate mastery of the fundamentals of camera movement, shot composition, lighting, audio, and editing, all of which we’ll introduce in workshops in the Learning Studio this semester. (For inspiration, see past projects on the FilmFest Archive).