Oxford Film Festival a ‘stepping stone’ for student filmmakers

Posted on Feb 7 2019 - 5:50am by Abby Perez

Ole Miss film students are eager to show their films to audiences on the big screen at Malco this weekend as part of the Oxford Film Fest.

Last October, the university hosted its first film festival, which featured a one-minute film contest for students. The winners of that contest got free admission to this weekend’s events and the chance to showcase their films at the festival.

Photo courtesy: Emily Faye Cobb

Senior art major Brady Shorter, who placed third at the UM Film Festival, will screen his film “Glass Half Empty.” He said the short is about how mental health issues are often hidden beneath the surface until a moment when they are suddenly “out in the open and unexpected.”  

This is the first time Shorter has two films — “Glass Half Empty” and a reel of works made for a cinematography class — showing at OFF. Shorter said films have a different impact when seen on the big screen versus on a computer monitor. When his film was shown at the Ole Miss festival, he had a similar experience.

“It was crazy to see something that I did on a screen that’s the size of a wall, and then this year it’s going to be at Malco,” Shorter said. “It’ll be the first time that something that I touched is being played in a movie theater, and it’s crazy to think that I’m going to go to the movies and see something that I did.”

Photo courtesy: Emily Faye Cobb

Shorter said he’s nervous because other people will watch his work, but ultimately, it means that he’s a step closer to his goal of working in the film industry.  

Sophomore film production major Lucinda Roberts was in the UM Film Festival as well and decided to submit “Hats Off,” a “cannabis-friendly short” about a single joke, to OFF.  

“(‘Hats Off’ is) a single joke that I wrote out into a one page script,” Roberts said.

Photo courtesy: Lucinda Roberts

Roberts has been a filmmaker for five years and said she is able to work at a faster pace because of this.

“It’s just a matter of getting it done because a lot of people, they overthink it, and they think that they have to have so much done,” Roberts said. “You really don’t, you just need actors and scripts and (to) make sure you have a camera before you leave school the next day. It’s fun to do.”

Sophomore film production major Tony King will screen the film “Sometimes I Can Fly,” an animated PSA about suicide. He said his goal is to educate people because not many people talk about suicide in public. King said he challenged himself to make a film that was not a comedy because everything he has done in the past is meant to be funny.

King’s mother pushed him to do something out of his comfort zone, something serious. Before he put it out in public, King got feedback. He said he wanted to make sure he did not say the wrong thing or “make it sound like something that it’s not.”

King said the film will have a different meaning for those who have been affected by suicide.

“For those going through it, it’s a way of saying (that) someone out there understands the whole ‘Sometimes I Can Fly’ instead of falling,” King said.

Lucinda Roberts, an intern for the Oxford Film Festival and a student filmmaker herself, edits in Isom Hall on Tuesday. Photo by Christian Johnson

This is King’s second time having a film shown at OFF, but this is the first time his work is in a competition in the festival. Last year, King went to the award ceremony to see who won, and he said he feels like he has a chance at an award this year.

“I think no matter what happens I’ll be happy that I’ve made it this far because I’m young,” King said. “I’m 18 years old; it’s an accomplishment. It’s a landmark or a stepping stone to the next level, regardless, so I’m proud of myself for that.”

Senior film major Dakota Pittman will also show two of his films on the big screen. One film, “Dysfunctional,” is an experimental film about nostalgia, remembering things that are good and the past that people want to forget, that he made for a class.

Without Pittman’s knowledge, someone submitted “Dysfunctional” to OFF. When he found out, he said he was pleased because he put a lot of work and some of his own experiences into it.  

“With ‘Dysfunctional,’ I put a bit more personal feeling into it with the theme of it because it’s got some themes in it like domestic abuse, and it’s hard to talk about stuff like that,” Pittman said.

His second film “Ryu,” which means “dragon” in Japanese, is an animated short inspired by “Godzilla,” in which a little monster gets kicked and grows big. Pittman created the film by drawing on a dry erase board for a week then spending several hours erasing and taking photos on a tripod in his kitchen.

Going back to his work is something Pittman always likes to do because he knows he can make the films better.

“I feel that it’s important to learn from everything you do and not to let any kind of failure discourage you,” Pittman said. “It’s important to learn from your mistakes, or you’ll never really learn something.”

Junior French major EmilyFaye Cobe gives many of her films French titles. One of those, “Traité Une Mauvaise Main,” meaning “dealt a bad hand,” will screen at OFF. With this film, Cobb wanted to focus on the technical side of filmmaking. While filming, she set up movie lights and made sure to be consistent with the lighting throughout the shots.

Cobb often creates films focussed on women and said she feels that a person can never have enough stories about women on the screen.

“The more women you can put into something, the better, to me. And also, it’s my background. I’m a woman,” Cobb said. “I like to see women doing things, having really fleshed out backgrounds (and) having their stories be told.”

This is the first time a film of Cobb’s is going to be in OFF. She said she is thankful for the opportunity Ole Miss has given her.

“The fact that it’s going to be shown at the Malco … My film is going to be on the big screen,” Cobb said. “I think that’s the most exciting for me because it’s nice to think I’m getting a little preview of the future.”