I was in a student film once. It wasn’t an intentional film. it was more the result of boredom and beer; a few weird guys stuck in a snowy mountain cabin with two very patient girls. We made a monster movie, full of non sequiturs, rubber masks and silly shots. If you look hard enough, you might be able to find it on YouTube. It was entered in a film festival at Tennessee Tech, but understandably, didn’t win any awards. Until recently, that was the last time I participated in student film.
As it turns out, one of the perks of being a film critic is that you suddenly become known as something of an expert. Over the past few months or so, I’ve been asked to give my opinions on WDEF-TV Channel 12’s “Prime News at 7,” to be part of a movie panel for the Arts and Education Council, and to be a judge for the Broad Street Film Festival. It’s pretty cool, I have to admit.
I spent most of last Thursday night watching student films. They are mostly shorts; miniature films with much to say and a short time to say it. It’s a difficult medium in film, to say the least. I’ve mentioned before that short films have to pack a lot of meaning and complexity into only a few minutes, which is something that’s hard to do, even for professionals.
Student films are an exercise in form and technique—they aren’t necessarily meant to be life-changing. Even the most famous of student films, such as George Lucas’ “THX 1138,” are largely visual in nature. The story is secondary, at times even an afterthought. More important is the movie magic, the sandbox of camera and editing techniques, the practice of taking an idea from storyboard to completion. These students are taking their first steps into a much larger world.
The Broad Street Film Festival is a celebration of the creative achievements of the students of Bryan College, Covenant College, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Southern Adventist University, Lee University, and Chattanooga State. There are some 20 films that cover a wide variety of subject matter and style. From documentary to comedy to serious drama and simple inspiration, these films show what’s on the minds of our student population. Several are very clever and entertaining. Some are less than wonderful. But all of them represent a concentrated effort to create, which is valuable and should be encouraged. There is great talent in the Scenic City and its surrounding areas. The Broad Street Film Festival shows us where some of it begins.
I would encourage the Chattanooga film community to support these students in their efforts. It’s hard to put something of yourself out there for public criticism. If you are reading this on Thursday, April 19, cancel your plans and head down to the Majestic 12. Support local film and local film will reward you for it.
Broad Street Film Festival
For more info: byran.edu/bsff
Thursday, April 19
6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
See all film festival entries
Carmike Majestic 12
311 Broad Street
Friday, April 20
Educational component for filmmakers
63 East Main Street
Saturday, April 21
709 Broad Street