Monthly Archive: January 2018

Campus Profile: Old Dominion University

Sixth in a series of articles from our visits to colleges and universities that are invited to participate in the 2018 College Film Awards.

If you want a true Virginia college experience, look no further than the traditions and forward-looking vibe you find at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

ODU is the Commonwealth’s leading entrepreneurial research university, offering 120 undergraduate majors with courses designed to propel graduates into successful careers in business, technology, medicine and the arts.

Belying its name, the university is one of the freshest faces among Virginia schools, having been established in 1930 by its neighbor to the west, College of William and Mary. It gained independence from W&M in 1962, and has established itself as a powerhouse in research, technology, athletics and … film!

We stopped by the University Theater to visit Professor David Mallin, director of the ODU film program. His creative students explore both narrative and documentary filmmaking in two emphasis areas in filmmaking: BA in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Cinema Production and BA or BS in Communication with an emphasis in cinema and television production.

We watched Professor Mallin’s work on a recent documentary screened by the Virginia Production Alliance, “Uma,” shot in Mali and produced with student help. Perhaps more student documentaries could be submitted for the College Film Awards in a few months.

Also, we learned from our visit that the ODU student film club partners with a similar club at Regent University.
That’s an interesting arrangement that surely helps both schools.

Welcome ODU filmmakers to our screening party and awards this year. We look forward to your submissions. Go Monarachs!

Campus Profile: Hampton University

Fifth in a series of articles from our visits to colleges and universities that are invited to participate in the 2018 College Film Awards.

One step onto the grounds of Hampton University and a wave of history sweeps over you. It’s a story not unlike a tale of Aristotelian dimension — struggle, objective, journey and redemption. Hampton’s first class, in 1861, consisted of twenty students of newly freed slaves under Union Army supervision. “Contraband of War” they were called. Despite Virginia law forbidding education of blacks, these students gathered for class under a simple oak tree, “the Emancipation Oak,” which still stands on campus.

The objective, of course, was education — the great equalizer of society. And the journey of the last 150 years, the steady and focused pursuit of learning to those less fortunate among us, has produced perhaps the world’s most accomplished and successful historically black university.

Pride, social consciousness, political energy and leadership are themes that abound on this campus — themes that are reflected in the quality of student filmmaking here.

The University’s Film and Television Studies program trains “visual” storytellers who will make their marks on society in the 21st Century. Hampton advocates an “interdisciplinary nature” of film, and provides opportunities for students to draw upon subjects, for example, such as history, English literature, music, fine art, psychology and architecture, to provide a context for the creation of their visual stories.

We had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Karen Ward, chair of fine and performing arts at Hampton. Her program offers a B.A. in English with an emphasis in Film and Television Studies and a Minor in Film Studies. The school offers courses in screenwriting, television writing, digital filmmaking, film history, film criticism, film festival development and the adaptation of novels to screen.

Congratulations to Hampton, where students draw on a history of yearning for education. We at Poe Film Festival can’t wait to see the intensity and powerful stories these students will submit to our College Film Awards this year. Go Pirates!

Campus Profile: Virginia Commonwealth University

Fourth in a series of articles from our visits to colleges and universities that are invited to participate in the 2018 College Film Awards in November.

Poe wandered about most of his life, never truly having one city to call his own. In a sense, we at the Poe Film Festival have that wandering feeling as we determine whether our College Film Awards should travel about Virginia from year to year, from one college to another, until we settle down.

Enter Virginia Commonwealth University in uptown Richmond. It’s difficult for us not to call VCU our home.

One lesson from our 2017 festival is the importance of a central location that can be reached by car in two to three hours at most by our traveling college students. VCU checks that box. Second, our venue must offer a “big screen” experience for our filmmakers, in a setting for 200-300 guests. VCU can handle that. Finally, the festival must provide better facilities for networking and educational programs. We discovered today that VCU can provide that.

On top of those criteria, VCU brings a world-class cinema and media arts department brimming with creative story ideas and student film projects. This year, we must tap into that creativity and bring VCU into our fold of colleges.

We met with Hong Cheng, director of VCU’s School of Media and Culture, to strengthen our ties with the university and open more avenues of communication with its student filmmakers. Dr. Cheng reported that his school offers a capstone class each semester where teams of students produce short documentaries as a final project.

That got us thinking: why not offer an award in a documentary category? One of our strongest entries last year was a documentary from a Virginia Tech student. Surely, many of our colleges could participate in such a category.

So we pursue VCU as our home team this year and join in what they call “Chaos.” Go Rams!