MU’s new Film Production Club to host love-themed film festival

Each film in the festival is student-written, directed and performed.

The newly formed Film Production Club created by senior DJ Shewmaker brings together local directors, screenwriters and actors to network and gain knowledge about the film industry.

The club will host its first event, the Valentine's Day Film Festival on Feb. 17 in Chamber Auditorium.

“I was getting involved in film productions around town, and I knew some theater people that wanted to get involved in film,” Shewmaker said. “I founded FPC to create a network for those people.”

According to the club’s Facebook page, FPC has been working toward gaining a strong following while networking with the film community in our first semester of existence.

The Valentine’s Day Film Festival will feature 11 films each written and produced by MU students, FPC Secretary Audrey Zigmond said. Almost all of the actors are MU students as well.

Each film in the Valentine’s Day Film Festival is five to seven minutes long and was produced on a “micro-budget” or no budget at all. The club required no more than four characters in each screenplay and the plot must pertain to the theme of love, though the genre selection was wide open.

Every screenwriter’s script was assigned to a director, cast and crew, who had less than three weeks to bring their cinematic ideas to the big screen. Screenwriters were warned prior to submission that, similar to typical Hollywood movie production, it would be the director’s interpretation and vision of the screenplay that is portrayed on screen.

“This kind of collaboration is how the movie industry generally operates, and because we want to challenge people on many different levels that is how we will be running things as well,” the FPC website states.

“We put (the festival) together in almost no time at all,” Zigmond said. “We decided to do it during winter break, then we had people write scripts over break, and when we got back we chose scripts to get casting for. It’s pretty amazing that we got this together in this little amount of time.”

A panel of judges composed of acting, screenwriting and digital media professors will award participants for Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay. Winners will get free film tickets to Ragtag Cinema and the winner of Best Picture will receive a free one-year membership to the independent film venue.

The club has accumulated more than 70 members, Zigmond said. Club members attended seminars on acting and grip and electric work as well as Q&A sessions with local filmmakers.

“Our club is basically a forum for people who have a passion for acting, writing or directing,” Zigmond said. “We develop opportunities together.”

Shewmaker said he hopes to get members involved in the local filmmaking scene as the club picks up speed. The films shown in the Valentine’s Day Film Festival as well as other films sponsored by the club will be shown on MUTV soon, he said.

After the film festival, Shewmaker said the club will launch its new website that features filmmaking blogs and a regular web series about the film industry.

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