“The Sky is the Limit”: SOU’s Student Film Festival Awards

Southern Oregon University’s Film Festival Awards were on Wednesday, June the 5th, in Ashland’s Varsity Theater. Admission tickets were $5 per person to the general public, but Southern Oregon students were given free admission. The films shown were the winners of the Fringe Festival back in May. As a result, the Varsity Theater’s selection on Wednesday was the best the Digital Cinema program had to offer. There were seventeen films displayed. Showings were scheduled to begin at 6:00, but problems disbursing tickets meant it took a half hour to get everyone admitted and seated.

The films themselves were cooked up entirely with student ingenuity. Students wrote the scripts, assembled the props, filmed the shots, and acted out the lines. The music in the films and the special effects were all put together by students on effectively no budget. Displays went on until around 8:00 in the evening, with films having an average of around five minutes to tell their entire stories. Submissions were as diverse as any selection of seventeen short films could be, ranging from intense, dialogue rich dramas to one actor comedies to an animated short created by Southern Oregon University’s animation club.

The sky was the limit in terms of what students could and couldn’t create– or rather, what they were able and willing to create. Since putting together everything in the films was up to their creators, with the special effects for more ambitious concepts getting creative was an absolute must. To compensate for the lack of resources, some films explored different mediums, such as telling their stories with only the mundane (a handful of student actors and different things you can get your hands on around campus, whether locations or props). Others closed the gap through raw ingenuity, creating exotic locales and forging unique props with whatever was available.

The University has long pioneered this specific niche. Its Digital Cinema (DCIN) and Emerging Media and Digital Arts (EMDA) programs have long been a main selling point for prospective students. While in today’s day and age storytelling in the video arts is a sprawling, diverse, and rapidly expanding field, it is still impossible to fully separate it from traditional live-action filmmaking. The artists that presented on Wednesday the fifth are representative of the University’s filmmaking talent. SOU’s Film Festival Awards may be over, but they are still seventeen good arguments for the liberal arts in the modern world– and seventeen good movies, too!

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