Students light up the silver screen at Radford Film Challenge Festival

Aspiring student filmmakers and actors tuned in to watch their very own short films on screen at the 2016 Radford Film Challenge Festival, held on April 19 at Radford Theatre.

For many students, these were the first films showcased in front of a public audience.

“This is my first short film showcased at a film festival. I’ve never done anything quite like this before,” said Radford University freshman Benicia Lovely.

Each team had certain guidelines to follow in order to participate in the Radford Film Challenge Festival. A database called the Random Challenge Generator selected a specific genre, prop and phrase for each team to integrate into their short film. This process eliminated any chance of bias or prior knowledge and challenged each team to think creatively. In addition, the short film couldn’t exceed five minutes, including credits.

“It took my team two days to create our short film,” Lovely said. “We had to use mustard as our prop and include it in a sci-fi genre. The editing process was something that we had to overcome because we had a complex idea that required different things, but we had fun.”

This year’s genres were romance, dystopia and sci-fi, to name a few. Eighteen short films played during the course of the evening: 11 by Radford University students, six by Radford High School students and then last year’s short-film winner.

These types of opportunities allow students a chance to showcase a special idea and appreciate the hard work it takes to get there. Taking part in those accomplishments broadens each student’s educational experience and hopefully ignites a passion in the generations to follow.

“To be able to go through this film process successfully, really does amazing things for each student who participates. We don’t learn things by memorizing. We learn by making, creating and doing,” said John Hildreth, associate director of Radford University’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) and mastermind behind the festival.

With a good camera, solid audio and an eye for lighting, any film can happen. Passion, commitment and the desire to cut and edit through obstacles, are a few of the many things it takes to be a serious film student.

“This is so hard and so fun at the same time. People are drawn to exciting, fun challenges. If you put that in front of students, they will come to it. We underestimate peoples’ attraction to creative challenges,” said CITL Director Charles W. Cosmato.

At the end of the Film Challenge Festival, awards were given out to the most outstanding short films of the night, Best Short Film Award, Technical Achievement Award and Audience Choice Award. In addition, the students’ creativity didn’t end there. University students designed from scratch 3-D printed trophies. These trophies intended to serve as an artifact and will hopefully become a tradition in the Radford Film Challenge Festival.

“You can see your accomplishments when you can say, ‘I made that. I built that,’” said Cosmato. “You start to look at yourself as having an impact in the world.”

This was Radford University’s third year holding the festival at Radford Theatre and the first year high school participants were included.

“This is a really neat showcase that allows us to bring in local talent," said Paul Pallante, owner/operator of the Radford Theatre. "They actually get to see their work on a large screen where they can envision themselves doing this professionally. It is nice to bring students and the community together because too often campus becomes its own oasis. These events give Radford a good mixing ground so that everyone feels involved."

For more information about the Radford Film Challenge Festival, visit the CITL website.

Apr 20, 2016
Lisa Sheffer