Started two years ago as a discussion-based group and support system for women interested in film, Wesleyan Women in Film is now looking to extend its reach to students of all backgrounds and filmmaking experiences by bringing the largest student film festival in the country, Campus MovieFest, to the University.
Campus MovieFest is a weeklong program during which students are encouraged to form teams to create a movie no longer than five minutes in a campus-wide film competition. A panel of staff and students at the participating college or university acts as judges. The top films at each institution are invited to compete nationally with student productions from other institutions at Campus MovieFest’s film summit in Hollywood. At the summit, student filmmakers can network and participate in workshops with industry professionals.
“[Campus MovieFest] also offer[s] film internships and really awesome networking opportunities, because a lot of professionals are involved with the company,” said Wesleyan Women in Film member Danielle Pruitt ’15. “They host red carpet finales to showcase the top movies [of the competition]. The top movies from each school are streamed on their website.”
Pruitt hopes Campus MovieFest will open up filmmaking opportunities to women who have been marginalized in the film industry in the past.
“Film is often known as a boys club,” Pruitt said. “It’s pretty male dominated in Hollywood. Hopefully this gives people the experience to not feel scared to [produce their own films].”
According to fellow Wesleyan Women in Film member Rebecca Wyzan ’15, more male film majors make senior theses than female film majors, despite the balanced gender ratio within the major.
“When we first started, it was more of a discussion-based group; people would come and talk about what they’re going through. In recent times, we’re trying to push it more,” Wyzan said. “The males who come into the film major often have more experience than females do.”
Pruitt was motivated to bring Campus MovieFest to campus after participating in WesFlix, a coalition of sophomore film majors who produced a number of short films.
“After having had that experience, I thought it’d be cool to submit movies to film festivals,” Pruitt explained. “The reason why Campus MovieFest is so awesome is because it provides all the resources to put on a festival, not only in terms of organizing the space and providing the space, but also providing the equipment, [such as] Mac laptops with editing software, HD video cameras, training on how to use the equipment, and just the overall support one might need when making a movie.”
Members of Wesleyan Women in Film hope that Campus MovieFest will encourage students from outside the film major to get hands-on experience with filmmaking.
“As a prospective film major, when I learned about Campus MovieFest I jumped on the idea right away,” Julie Magruder ’17 wrote in an email to The Argus. “But this Festival gives opportunities for all students on campus to get creative [and] hands-on.”
Pruitt added that if Campus MovieFest comes to campus, the competition will be open to all students who wish to participate.
“Overall we’re just trying to engage the campus in film in general, it’s not limited to the major at all,” Pruitt said.
Currently, Wesleyan Women in Film is in the process of asking the Student Budget Committee (SBC) for funding to host Campus MovieFest. Last week, Pruitt sent out a campus-wide survey to gauge student interest for the program. In three days, one hundred students responded positively to the proposal.
“It would be a very fun community-building event for campus,” Pruitt said. “There aren’t a lot of events that can support as many people as this can. As a group, [Wesleyan Women in Film was] talking about putting on our own festival, but that itself is limiting, too, because you’re limiting yourself to students who have the equipment. Campus MovieFest comes with all the equipment. There’s no reason you can’t participate and create something on your own.”
Wyzan hopes that Campus MovieFest will be an occasion for students to share stories through film.
“We are pretty renowned as a film school,” she said. “But often, the upper-level film courses are not open to people who aren’t film majors. This would be an interesting opportunity if you have a voice and if you want to…learn more about the filmmaking experience outside of the classroom.”
12 clubs on campus have agreed to sponsor Campus MovieFest. If Wesleyan Women in Film can secure the necessary funding from the SBC, the event would take place April 22 to 28.
“Hoping that it does come to campus, I just really hope that a lot of students take [the] opportunity to learn a new skill and show it off,” Pruitt said. “It’s about spreading the filmmaking love.”