“Shorttakes” – The Film Festival for Everyone

By Pete Stone 

Back when I was an undergraduate student at UCLA (almost 20 years ago!), the School of Theater, Film and Television had a film festival for its students (still does for that matter – here’s the link to the School of TFT festival home page http://www.tft.ucla.edu/festival/ ). Only undergraduate and graduate students from the School of TFT could enter, however.

Restricting entries to School of TFT students only seemed appropriate as these students were (and are today) working specifically towards a degree in theater, film and, or television. A showcase for these students was (and still is) necessary in order to provide potential employers a venue to evaluate talent. At the time (c. 1990), there were many gifted and unheralded artists and film-makers not in the School of TFT, however.* This under-served community was identified by Campus Events and through this insight the UCLA Shorttakes Student Film Festival was born.

* (This continues to be the case by the way.)

In 1992, UCLA Campus Events (which is the student run organization that hosts on-campus concerts, speakers and movie nights among other activities; and is a part of Associated Students UCLA – the student government) started a little film festival that was unique for the following reasons:

1. The festival was open to any UCLA undergraduate, graduate student and, or recent alumnus (within 1 year of having graduated from UCLA).

2. Entries were short subject films (less than 10 minutes running time) in one of two categories – traditional film narrative, or animation/digital media. The unique thing about the festival’s format is that all the finalist films could be screened in one night – as opposed to over several nights/weeks for feature length films.

3. The festival was democratic in its principles – The Film Festival for Everyone. The organizers, participants and audiences (for the most part) were the UCLA students themselves. UCLA obviously provided “in-kind” resources such as catering, services (audio-visual, etc.), facilities (Ackerman Grand Ballroom) as well as promoting the event via the Campus Events student staff to the rest of the UCLA community.

The end result was an energetic and decidedly “un-Hollywood” short-subject film festival which has now run annually for 13 consecutive years.

For the past several years, the finalists’ films have been reviewed and judged by a panel of distinguished entertainment industry professionals. Past industry judges include: Jeff Probst – host of “Survivor” and writer/producer of “Finder’s Fee”; Rich Wilkes – screenwriter of “xXx – State of the Union” and “Punk Like Me”; Steve Evans – VP of Sundance Channel; Peter Abraham – Producer of “I am Trying to Break Your Heart”; Bob Dohrmann – “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Thank you for Smoking”; Charles Schner – cinematographer/director of photogoraphy as well as many others.

This year (2007) marks the 14th year the UCLA Shorttakes Student Film Festival will be organized and hosted by UCLA Campus Events. With the rise of inexpensive digital cameras and digital editing on pc’s (Apple Final Cut for example) the festival now receives entries from undergraduate, graduate and recent alumni from UCLA as well as from around the world. If you have a short-subject film and are an undergraduate, graduate, or recent alumnus of a 4 year college, or university, send in your film!

Here is a link to last year’s festival site http://students.asucla.ucla.edu/cec/shorttakes/

The festival also welcomes sponsor interest. Past sponsors include Kodak, Theta Chi Fraternity, Rottentomatoes.com, Sundance Channel, iFilm, Indie 103.1 Radio, Clif Bar, Entertainment Weekly, Campus Circle Media and TimeWarner Cable.

If you are in Los Angeles the last week in May 2007, make some time to spend a few hours at the screening event. Typically the finalists’ screening event is the last Thursday of May. The screening generally runs from 7PM to 10PM with refreshments provided.

Hope to see you at the movies!

Explore posts in the same categories: Ackerman Grand Ballroom, Apple, Film festival, Film making, Humor, Shorttakes, student, Theta Chi, UCLA

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