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Showcasing Student Talent

Campus MovieFest winners group shot

Stetson Campus MovieFest winners included, seated left to right, Chelsea Probus (“Smoking Kills”), McKenzie Beery (“Smoking Kills”), Kyle Maley (“Smoking Kills”), Ivan Kaiser (“Deputy Brown”), Joe Sarracino (“Threshold”), and standing in the back, left to right, Ari Kravasky (“Smoking Kills”) and Sebastien Cook (“Threshold”).

There was an ode to the anti-smoking movement, a fantasy tale about final exam stress, a thriller that took a bewildered man to a frightening end and a drama-turned-comedy about an actor on set who couldn’t quite make it to the bathroom.

Four student-led teams came out as winners of Campus MovieFest at Stetson University this month, with organizers of the event saying the films showcased the diversity and talent of the student body and covered topics that spanned the serious to the silly.

The students said it was an experience that gave them a greater insight into the world of filmmaking and, perhaps, a start to a future career.

“This is building my resume. I wish I could have done it prior to college, for grad school,” said Ivan Kaiser, who wrote, directed, acted, composed and edited “Deputy Brown,” a film that showcased an actor playing a tough-guy police officer who, oops, soils his pants. Four times.

Campus MovieFest, billed as the world’s largest student film festival, began in 2001 at Emory University in Atlanta. The program launched at Stetson several years ago and has steadily grown, organizers said. This year, 30 teams, with a total of 426 students, competed for top spots.

The event started weeks ago with organizers loaning each team video cameras and editing-equipped laptops. The teams had a week to create videos under Campus MovieFest rules, which include a five-minute film time limit, no nudity and no dangerous behavior. All of the crew members had to be registered students in good standing, but cast members, including actors and extras, could be from outside the Stetson community.

During a red carpet event earlier this month at Rinker Field House, actors, directors, producers and film enthusiasts gathered to watch the final screenings. Anonymous judges, including CMF staffers and Stetson faculty and staff, then scored the films based on content, technical merits and overall quality. Each team had the opportunity to get 10 points for each category, for a total of 30 points.

Raghav Ravichandran, a promotions manager for Campus MovieFest, said Stetson’s top four Jury Award winners showcased the school’s talent. The winners were:

  • Smoking Kills” by Jackme Productions (Chelsea Probus, Ari Kravatsky, Kyle Maley, Simone Seales, Mckenzie Beery)
  • Home” by Emma Bjornsen (with Oliver Hoegh)
  • Threshold” by Sebastien Cook (with Joe Sarracino, Casey Starchak, Ciera Lamoureux, Kam Calebro, Maggie Winkler, Bryan Singh and Stetson Assistant Professor of Physics Holley Lynch, Ph.D.)
  • Deputy Brown” by The Alabaster Effect (Ivan Kaiser, Marc Velazco, Gabby Bivona, Tatjana Muroski, Josh Melendez, Ari Darydel, Sonny Hale, Reece Palamar, Cooper Hendrix, Ashley Marie Shepherd, Jack Sumrall III and Zach Foss)
Group shot of three winners of Campus MovieFest

Stetson Campus MovieFest winners included, seated, Emma Bjornsen (“Home”), Joe Sarracino (“Threshold”) and, standing, Sebastien Cook (“Threshold”).

The winners advance to the national competition at the four-day film and gaming convention TERMINUS in Atlanta this June, receive a one-year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud and have their films considered for screening at the 2017 Cannes International Film Festival in France this May.

In addition, CMF nominated films in specific categories for Silver Tripod awards. Those winners move on for a chance to win Gold Tripod awards at TERMINUS. Stetson’s Silver Tripod winners are as follows:

  • Best Performance Silver Tripod — Simone Seales in “Smoking Kills,” an over-the-top anthem about a woman in the anti-smoking movement.
  • Best Directing Silver Tripod — “Deputy Brown,” competing nationally for best directing.

“Smoking Kills” also won Stetson Pride, the Behind the Scenes Facebook contest and the Audience Award.

Probus, who directed “Smoking Kills,” said another crew member, Maley, came up with the idea for the film years ago. Probus, a senior, has participated in the event for several years and enjoys drawing creative energy from it.

“I plan on continuing to make films as a hobby so I think all of the exposure to film and equipment and just the process in general will help me with that in the future,” the 21-year-old religious studies major said. “I think I obviously want people to get the idea that smoking is not an ideal pastime.”

Maley views the experience as a big resume booster. As a marketing major, Maley was involved in creating “Smoking Kills” posters and other promotional materials, among other things.

“It’s such an amazing opportunity,” he said. “The whole idea of Campus MovieFest is just brilliant. I really think there’s no reason not to do it, no matter what your major is.”

For Bjornsen, a freshman who worked as the lone director, producer and editor on “Home,” the experience taught her a lot about working quickly. She worked down to the wire to perfect her piece after her first idea flopped.

“I learned sometimes a plan B can end up working out better than you originally planned,” she said. “I learned how to work quickly.”

-Amy Connolly