Cinema student Rylee Smith is fired up about screening her new movie at the Black Bird Film Festival next Wednesday.
“When you finally have a finished product, and you show it to people, and other people get joy from that—it’s like, oh my gosh,” said the junior cinema and media arts major.
Smith and a number of her cinema classmates will be showcasing their work at the seventh annual film festival on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
On April 26 at 7 p.m., student films will be showcased at the annual Black Bird Film Festival in York Performance Hall. Attendees can experience walking the red carpet before the festival begins. There will also be an opportunity for attendees to get their picture taken on the red carpet.
Rylee Smith and her sister, Megan Smith, a senior cinema major, will show films that they worked on.
As part of their Field/Soundstage/Postproduction class, the sisters are required to submit projects for the film festival. Even though the Smith sisters are required to submit a film as part of their class, they enjoy the process of filmmaking and having their work shown on the big screen.
There are five roles assigned in class to the production teams. Sometimes freshmen will help out on sets, and sometimes students like the Smith sisters will help with each other’s films.
The process of getting a film into the Black Bird Film Festival and eligible for judging is not easy.
Students first submit their films to Jack Lugar, professor of cinema and media arts, who sends the films to the Black Bird Film Festival Academy. The Academy judges them and decides what films make it into the festival, and what films won awards. The Academy largely consists of departmental alumni.
There are awards given for the judged films at the film festival. The “Squawkies” and “Squeakies” award winners will be announced after the films are shown.
The Smith sisters are submitting films to be eligible for judging.
Rylee is directing a drama/romance movie titled “Mise en Place”.
“It’s about this chef who owns a pizza restaurant and then he owns a more upscale Italian restaurant and he is having issues in relationships,” Rylee said.
Megan is directing a film titled “The Fine Print”.
“It’s a vampire movie and more of a comedy,” Megan said.
While the Smith sisters are working on separate teams for the movies they are directing, they are also working on each other’s projects because they plan to work together after graduation. Doing so gives them experience taking on multiple roles in film production.
“I am her assistant director, and she is my assistant director,” Megan said.
Within each production team that the Smith sisters are working on, there are many different roles that are important to the success of the films.
Some of these roles include: cinematographer, sound/audio, producer and editor.
The cinematographer can often be seen running the camera and setting up all of the shots. The sound/audio person often holds a boom pole to get good audio on location. The producers in the Smith sisters’ projects have typically done clipboard and slate duties. The editor edits the film before it is submitted.
“Because it’s such a small production team, and we generally only have a couple extra people, everyone has to do double duty,” Megan said. “I’ve done all kinds of stuff, like gripping, which is moving lights.”
“There’s a lot of overlap between positions,” Rylee said.
Even though the Smith sisters enjoy filmmaking, there are numerous hard parts in the process of making a film.
To Rylee, the hardest part of filmmaking is figuring out how to effectively work with a team.
“Everyone has a different way of approaching a project,” Rylee said. “Some people are procrastinators and want to wait until a day before we start shootings. Other people like to do things before.”
Team members doing their work is imperative on a project, such as making a film, that is reliant on teamwork.
“When one person does not do their jobs in such a small team, it affects everyone,” Megan said.
Megan’s favorite part of filmmaking is being on set.
Rylee also enjoys being on set, and she enjoys showing the finished product to audiences.
“Last year when we did our film, people watched it and gasped and laughed. It made me feel really good to hear that people enjoyed themselves,” Megan said.
While most of the works submitted to the festival come from students in the cinema and media arts major, students from any major can submit films to the festival.
The Black Bird Film Festival is free and open to the public.