February 18, 2011
The cast and filmmakers on location of the short film "Making More Movies." (l to r) J.D. Casto (Class of 2011), Rachel Murphy (Class of 2012), Joe Kezele (Class of 2012), Ryan Johns (Class of 2011MBA) and Nate Fulton (Class of 2011).
The hours on the clock seemed to be flying by, and by 11:30 a.m. on February 2, J.D. Casto (Class of 2011) was starting to sweat. He and his teammates had been at it for hours, covering his apartment with sticky-notes full of one-liners and character traits for their upcoming films. They were preparing for the launch of Campus MovieFest (CMF), a weeklong filmmaking competition that takes place on campus every year. Once the event is launched, contestants have only one week to complete a five-minute film.
Most groups wouldn't be too concerned with the time constraints, but Casto and his teammates, who call themselves "CastOriginal" (a play on Casto's last name and his desire to build a life for himself creating films with original and creative messages), have decided to push themselves a little farther this year and shoot three films.
"Choosing to do three films in a week is a crazy idea—or so I’ve been told," Casto said, although he is quite confident in his group's ability to rise to the challenge. "After taking part of [Professor of English Bill] Boles’ Making Feature Films class last semester, in which I created an 85-minute feature film with a few other classmates, I figured that making one five-minute short film would be a walk in the park. It's my last semester at Rollins and thus my last chance to participate in CMF, so I wanted to challenge myself to make three films."
Casto and his teammates, Nastassia Alayeto (Class of 2011), Ryan Johns (Class of 2011MBA), Joe Kezele (Class of 2012), Nate Fulton (Class of 2011), Rachel Murphy (Class of 2012), Kaitlin Elizabeth Baxter (Class of 2011) and Katy Polimeno (Class of 2011), have already spent countless hours planning every moment of each film, from facial expression to intricate camera movements.
"I try to be as collaborative as possible, which of course causes its own drama. But when you are all arguing and then come up with the same idea at the same time—almost completing each other’s sentences as you pitch the idea—that is one of the most rewarding things you can get when you make a film," said Casto.
CastOriginal has participated in CMF for the past three years, but the group is particularly excited about its entries in this year's competition. Their three films—"Making (More) Movies," "Based On An Unfortunate True Story" and "Alone"—are the group's most concentrated effort to tell a variety of stories through use of irony, dark humor and silent film. Casto doesn't consider his work as trying to communicate a specific message, but rather focuses on nuance and style in filmmaking.
One filmmaker participating in this year's CMF did have a specific message in mind when he began writing his film. Ryan Lambert (Class of 2013) decided to use CMF as an opportunity to spread awareness on a problem that has been eating away at him for much of his young adult life: height discrimination. Lambert rallied an array of Rollins' tallest victims of society to create the short film, "One Tall Step for Man," a mockumentary about the many challenges that tall people face on a daily basis.
"The film was designed to bring light to an obviously serious issue that not many people are aware of. A large population of Rollins College is plagued by problems such as short hemlines, low door frames and insufficient leg room on a daily basis, and the short population just doesn't understand. I thought that this was the perfect platform for me to get the message out there that something needs to be done to make a change in the world."
While Lambert and his group may have taken a more fun-centered approach to the event, they still faced the serious challenges that each group involved dealt with throughout the week. "The hardest part is definitely the editing, because you spend hours on end shooting and have to spend twice as much time cropping all of that footage down to five minutes; the process itself is really tedious," Lambert said, though he wouldn't have traded the experience for anything. "It's hard work, but having the chance to participate in such a major event on campus and have your work seen by a mass majority of the student body is something that’s really exciting to be a part of."
Each year, CMF is one of the highest attended events on campus, and with this year’s record number of submissions, the turnout is expected to be even greater. Casto and Lambert believe that since the event is open to everyone, it really opens up a window of opportunity for the community to get involved and come together. "You see first years working on films, you see professors working on films, and you see people who you’d never even think of as a someone who is even remotely interested in film out there with everyone else trying to tell a story," Casto said.
“This event really benefits the Rollins community by allowing the students to come together and work as teams for a solid week,” said Campus MovieFest Ambassador Amanda Drum. “Additionally, when so much of the campus turns out on premier night, the sense of unity is palpable.”
Perhaps the biggest success of CMF is that it serves as an outlet for students from a variety of majors to participate in filmmaking. Casto hopes that because of this, Rollins will see an increase in film production classes in the future. "I think it should be noted that there is a collective force on our campus that could benefit from a few film production courses as well as more up-to-date film production equipment," he said.
These films, along with a slew of others, premiered in the Alfond Sports Center on Thursday, February 17. Congratulations to the finalists! Check out all the films and vote to advance one more film to the next round of competition on the CMF website.
By Sarah Hartman (Class of 2011)
Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
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