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Digital Cinema students set to show off their stuff

Published: Monday, May 23, 2011

Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08

DePaul's film school will congregate at The Music Box Theater on Friday, June 3, to celebrate the best of the best at this year's film festival. The entire university is welcome to see the work these student filmmakers have produced over the past year.

The two-hour program will include up to 16 of the finest student produced films, chosen from more than 80 entries this year. Audience members will get to experience narrative dramas, documentaries, animation pieces, experimental films and even music videos. The pre-screening committee consists of Assistance Professor Kristyn Benedyk, Instructor Dan Klein, Instructor Robert Steel and graduate student Nick Vassil.

Steel described the films they have received as "astonishing." He explained that there is a lot of hidden talent that goes undiscovered until this festival, especially because the school is growing so fast. "[It is] very difficult to create a program of only 14-16 films when you're watching so much great material," Klein said. "It's highly competitive."

The honor of being accepted into this event has a great impact on the students. Film production often requires 12-16 hour days of shooting and countless hours in editing and post-production, on top of the classes that student filmmakers must attend and work for. This event shows that all the hard work does pay off.

DePaul's student filmmakers also have complete ownership of the films they produce at the university, with the university's resources. Most film schools have rights to the actual films themselves when production is over, only giving intellectual credit to their students. But at DePaul, once a student creates a film, it is all their own without any tribute owed to the school. A screening of one's original work at this festival could be the first of many screenings of a piece of work – the exposure is priceless. "We want everyone to get to see their film on a big screen," Benedyk said. This festival serves as a reminder that they can definitely make quality films, and that they are quite talented – even though they are still at the student level.

Klein explained that the industry works like this: every project an artist makes exhibits the level and complexity of what they are doing. It's really important for encouraging other students to want to work with them. Almost all of the works shown at this event are the products of student-initiated collaborations. "A lot of the filmmakers who had films shown last year had bigger, more complex productions this year," Klein said. "By virtue of the fact that people believed in them, and wanted to work with them – these collaborations kind of grew and fostered there."

There is also an award ceremony at the end of the festival. Winners are chosen by the judging committee and by a panel of industry professionals from Chicago and Los Angeles. Steel said last year's winner was really "galvanized as a filmmaker." He went on to make very interesting work, along his natural trajectory, of course, but Steel certainly felt that winning gave this student the impetus to be more creative.

Filmmakers are discovered because of this program. This year's panel of industry judges includes Chris Dennis, from Paradigm Agency in L.A.; Tommy O'Haver, DePaul's director in residence; Emmy Award winning producer Barbara E. Allen, of Middle Passage Productions; and Rich Moskal, the director of the Chicago Film Office. The industry professionals who serve as judges come to Chicago looking for new talent. Showing one's film at this event could lead to potential employment.

"As an artist, your best sales tool is your work," Steel said. "You can pitch, and you can tell people how great you are, but until people see what you can do, the rest is not going to make a difference."

For the past five years, the festival has taken place at The Portage Theater. But this year The Music Box, one of Chicago's oldest and largest theaters, has agreed to let DePaul take over the space for one night. "We hope to fill all 750 seats," Benedyk said. "Everyone is welcome!"

Premiere founder Dana Hodgdon said, "I felt that the Premiere Film Festival would enhance the reputation of the Digital Cinema Program." DC students and faculty would like to share what they are capable of creating with the entire DePaul community at this festival.

"We're crafting excellent films at a professional level," Klein said. "We're proud of this work, and hopefully the entire DePaul community will be proud of this work [too.]"

Premiere is also completely run by volunteers. A crew of only twenty people is running this massive event. From the hosts, to the stage manager, the finisher, to the projectionist, they are all volunteering. Come support their hard work for a night of movies and lights at the Music Box next Friday.

Free tickets are now available at the Cage, on the 9th floor of the CDM building.

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