Before Steven Spielberg made “Jaws,” Ridley Scott made “Gladiator” and the Coen brothers made “No Country for Old Men,” these directors made student films. An extraordinary director isn’t groomed over night, and student films enable aspiring move makers to take risks and learn their craft. Fortunately, the next wave of cinema leaders has plenty of outlets to spread their wings. Student film festivals provide young filmmakers with forums to show their stuff. Not only do these events foster skills, they also connect aspiring directors and producers with like-minded students. When creative young people get together, good things happen. Read ahead for our list of the Top Five Student Film Competitions.
Dubbed the world’s largest student film festival, Campus Moviefest started in 2001 when Emory University provided students with laptops, camcorders and a week to make a movie. Since then, more than 500,000 students have received training and technology to make films. Ideas United partners with schools and businesses to make Campus Moviefest happen. Students from participating schools can visit Campusmoviefest.com to sign up.
Last year, Ideas United partnered with Lenovo to give students filmmakers a shot at their first big break. In the Seize the Night film competition, 15 participant groups made alternative endings to a Lenovo Ultrabook ad. The winner made it on air and won $15,000 courtesy of Lenovo, which produces tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
International Student Film Festival
Hollywood is still the center of the cinema universe, and every year the International Student Film Festival brings undergraduate and graduate students from around the world together to share their skills. Students can submit Feature-length films, short films, documentaries, animations and music videos to be judged by a jury of professional filmmakers, journalists, actors and teachers.
USC Film Student Shaun Seong-Young Kim won the 2012 Grand Jury Award for his animated feature “Hu’s Game,” while Israeli college student Tal Reinan won Best Foreign Language Comedy. Students can enter or get more information about the International Student Film Festival at Isffhollywood.org.
Angelus Student Film Festival
Another Hollywood-based event, the Angelus Student Film Festival offers a $10,000 Grand Prize for excellence in filmmaking. Past Angelus award winners include Luke Matheny, who later won an Academy award for his short “God of Love,” and Tony Buy, who wrote and directed “Three Seasons.” Students can learn more about the Angelus Student Film Festival at Angelus.org.
Arizona Student Film Festival
Arizona starts its filmmakers young. The Arizona Student Film Festival accepts films from students in 3rd grade all the way through college. Categories include PSA, which usually last around 30 seconds, micro-short films of 1-5 minutes, and short films of 5-10 minutes. Entry into the Arizona Student Film Festival costs just $10, so a broad range of filmmakers can show their stuff. Learn more at Azstudentfilmfestival.com.
Fusion Film Festival
Cinema is traditionally a male-dominated industry, which is why Kathryn Bigelow’s Academy Award win that made the first woman to win Best Director was so monumental. The Fusion Film Festival aims to inspire women interested in cinema to reach similar heights. This New York City-based festival promotes women’s roles in film production. Erin Sanger won the 2013 award for best Undergraduate Film for her film “Bombshell.” Perhaps she’ll follow in Bigelow’s footsteps. Students can learn about next year’s competition at Fusionfilmfestival.com.
Do you have an experience with a great student film festival? One we missed from our list worth mentioning? Drop us a line in the comments below…