By Taylor Lewis
Buried in universities across the country are student filmmakers searching for a venue for their work. More than 2,000 miles and a coast apart from Los Angeles, those in the Washington D.C. area encounter more obstacles than some.
“We have a great documentary scene here, but a lot of people think, ‘Oh, I love watching films, but why aren’t you in L.A. if you’re not interested in that thing?’,” said George Washington University international business and marketing junior Jungyoon Kim, the president of the East Coast Student Film Festival (ECSFF). The festival screened short films by students from along the East Coast in its inaugural event on Saturday.
Of about 150 submissions, 16 were chosen, including “Finley” by Ben Strang of the University of Maryland. The final group included two documentaries, the animated film “Yogurt, Inc.”, and one music video set to “Can’t Keep Johnny Down” by They Might Be Giants.
Filmmakers and their supporters gathered in GWU’s Marvin Center for a red carpet and mixer before the screening, which featured guest speakers Adam Nixon, a UMD graduate assistant and Andy Horwitz, a creative executive at Atlas Entertainment. After the screening a Q-and-A session with the student filmmakers and a short award ceremony closed the event.
Though not all could make the trip, some traveled from as far as Savannah, Ga. to attend the event. Tobias Beidermuhle and Pikey Holdredge, MFA students from the Savannah College of Art and Design, made a brief trip to D.C. for their film, “Madly Unto Eternity“. Though the two live in separate cities now (Beidermuhle lives in New York City), both made the effort to show.
“As we search for work and [with] (Beidermuhle) in the greatest city in the country, I would say, it’s a little bit hectic trying to balance our trips to film festivals and trying to find whatever jobs we can,” said Holdredge, who directed the film. The ECSFF marks the second of six festivals where they will be screening their romantic comedy.
The makers of “Cross Country” drove from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro with lead actor, junior Luke Basinger, in tow. One of the heavier films, “Cross Country” draws its title from “Operation Cross Country”, a FBI initiative to fight child sex trafficking in the United States. Set during a sting operation, the movie was filmed at night and half an hour away from the Greensboro campus–accentuating an already stressful process. “One night, we started Friday night at eight o’clock p.m. and we did not leave until seven o’clock the next morning,” said director David Stapp.
Since September, when Kim first contacted film organization presidents from American University, Catholic University, Howard University, and the University of Maryland, the ECSFF has had its own difficulties.
“It was kind of hectic, ’cause we are students first, so it was rough trying to manage schoolwork,” said president of Howard’s Film Organization, senior Lyndell Mitchell. Kim added the problem of limited funds (“We literally worked under a $400 budget.”) and marketing to the committee’s complications.
Despite the festival’s less-than-Hollywood presentation, Kim is happy getting its idea out, “We’re mimicking it, but we want to do it our own way and our best way to do it. At the end of the day, it’s the message that really matters and not the experience.”
Best short film: “Salum Ghourba”
Best screenplay: “Love is Love”
Best documentary: “Amnesia”
Best directing: “They Might Be Giants”
Audience’s choice: “Madly Unto Eternity”