Campus Profile: Howard University

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

Does Howard University in Washington, DC, have a film program? Two words: Chadwick Boseman.

The star of “Black Panther,” the hottest movie on the planet, is a 2000 alumnus of Howard with a degree in directing and fine arts. So we went in search of the next Chadwick Boseman on the Howard campus this week.

Howard’s Department of Media, Journalism and Film is a crown jewel of the university’s strong academic curriculum. The film part of that department, overseen by award winning journalist and author Yanick Rice Lamb, emphasizes story and art in its film program — with intense courses in screenwriting, visual communication, multimedia audio production, and videography.

Our visit to this beautiful, historical campus made us wonder: why so few students? Holed away in the study halls of the library? Professor Lamb assured us that Howard University students were indeed engaged and active; unfortunately our visited coincided with spring break.

So we asked the good professor to pass along our best wishes for her students’ success in their film productions this spring, and asked her to encourage them to submit to the 2018 College Film Awards starting on April 1

We’re looking for the next movie superstar. (Did we mention Taraji P. Henson is an alum, too?) Go Bisons!

Campus Profile: Randolph-Macon College

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

One of the fun aspects of this job is talking with college film students, meeting them on their campus, getting to know how they think and how they want to put their stories on film. Actually that’s four fun aspects.

So it was a good day last week when the Poe Film Festival visited Randolph-Macon College in Ashland and its film production class at McGraw Library. And thank you Mr. Ted Salins for allowing us a few minutes of your class time.

R-MC film students (36 of them) produce high quality narrative shorts and, if film studies director Dr. Mine Eren, gets her wish, will soon work on similar quality documentary films. For a relatively small school, R-MC has big plans.

“We want to establish a film major at Randolph-Macon,” Dr. Eren told us last week. She said the college wants to continue its interdisciplinary approach to film studies, including multi-cultural filmmaking inspired by Chinese, German and Turkish cinema studies. At the same time, she said, the college wants to offer a film minor to students of all interests. One current film minor student majors in bio-chem.

The story is key for our competition, and we have no doubt that Randolph-Macon students have stories to tell on film. So we welcome them to the 2018 College Film Awards. Go Yellow-Jackets!

Campus Profile: Art Institute of Washington

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

No Fluff. All Stuff. We love the nuts and bolts approach to student filmmaking at the Art Institute of Washington.

Our visit to the AIW film production class of Professor Paul Awad last week confirmed our belief that passion for storytelling thrives at this Arlington school. Students peppered us with questions about the story structure our judges look for in competition submissions and, as a reward, we shared some secrets about Poe’s style that may give them an edge in the 2018 College Film Awards.

AIW is in it to win it.

Coordinated by Professor Elvin Hernandez, last year’s AIW students scored three Official Selection films, including the technical merit winner, “Autumn’s Room,” by directors Patrick Ogden and Justin Coupe. Our audience also enjoyed screenings of AIW films, “Bar Quixote” by director Matthew Benedict and “Ghost Machines” by Paige Compton. Professor Hernandez assured us of more quality short films for our 2018 competition.

AIW’s media arts and animation department boasts of its film production studio with great audio facilities. And outside their door is a fantasy film setting, the Potomac River and Washington, DC. We can only imagine the wealth of stories and visuals these talented students will create.

We heartily welcome the fantastic storytellers of the Art Institute of Washington to the 2018 College Film Awards. Go AI!

Campus Profile: Washington & Lee University

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

Washington & Lee not only is a potential buddy movie, it is one heckuva historic college in Virginia. Named after the hero general of the Revolutionary War and the, ahem, general of the Civil War, Washington & Lee attracts an international group of gifted students as well as aspiring young filmmakers.

Our Lexington stop, though brief, inspired our own dreams of filmmaking. Led by director Shawn Paul Evans, the W&L film program minor is saturated with writing courses, coupled with an international arts curriculum to round out the student filmmaker’s world-view and stoke his/her creative juices.

Of great interest to Poe Film Festival is W&L’s documentary film production class, where teams of students produce five-minute documentaries that highlight ethnic and cultural story-telling. Many gems are undoubtedly produced by these students.

So we welcome Washington & Lee to our College Film Awards in October. Submissions are free and open on our website on April 1. Go Generals!

Campus Profile: George Mason University

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

We get it. Most of the film school educators are adjunct professors who are underpaid and overworked. Many don’t have the energy to respond to our emails. And maybe they don’t have time to say hello and take our visit. Film professors often have productions of their own and can’t be bothered to respond to film festival invitations.

That’s a pity — for their students.

If George Mason University film professors and staff — and yes we reached out to plenty of them in the past 16 months — took our call and visit in Fairfax yesterday, they would understand the value of our College Film Awards program for their cinema students.

They would have learned about our live screenings of student films before an audience of professionals, our plans for a Job Fair where film students can interview with creative agencies with a national scope, a chance to network with other college professors and filmmakers, exposure to the latest filmmaking equipment, educational panels on writing structure and acting, the pride of representing their college in our regional competition, scholarship money and grants. And all of this with a free submission to our contest.

Poe Film Festival is a non-profit corporation with a 501(c)(3) designation. We exist to promote young and up-and-coming independent filmmakers in Virginia. There is no downside to our college competition.

We encourage GMU students to submit their finest narrative and documentary films on our website starting on April 1, regardless of how busy your teachers are. Represent your well-respected school and bring home the grand prize in October. Go Patriots!

Campus Profile: Liberty University

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

There are 60 lucky students at Liberty University in Lynchburg.

Sixty students hand-selected by film professors for their creativity, passion, and commitment to fresh filmmaking comprise the awesome pool of talent for Liberty University’s award-winning Department of Cinematic Arts. And are we lucky to watch their films for the 2018 College Film Awards!

Liberty University, the largest private non-profit university in the nation with a total enrollment of more than 110,000 (who knew!), limits its film program to the highest potential 60 students. At our recent meeting with Professor Douglas Miller, we learned that these select students are shepherded through an intensive two-year program that culminates in a capstone film project.

What Professor Miller said next whets our appetite for Liberty films — “In our program, story is the most important element. Students get notes at every stage of writing. They get feedback from us and other film students. Everyone does a rewrite.” As painful as that sounds, we know that success is spelled r-e-w-r-i-t-e.

Professor Jonathan Hout joined us at Macado’s Restaurant and happily told us that Liberty’s film students enter their work in dozens of national film festivals with great results. His drive to make Liberty students the best they can be is certainly inspiring and speaks well for the commitment that Liberty makes to its cinema program.

Doug and Jonathan proudly showed off the university’s equipment facility and the thousands of dollars worth of movie-making equipment generously donated by alumni. One can imagine the magnificent work that results from the combination of dedicated and talented teachers, 60-hour work weeks by students, state-of-the-art equipment, and the drive to produce amazing stories for the big screen.

We are excited to invite the best-of-the-best Liberty University narrative and documentary shorts to our 2018 College Film Awards. Go Flames!

Campus Profile: Hollins University

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

Hollins student filmmakers have a habit – one that we love.

Their films have been featured in a number of prestigious film festivals, including Sundance Film Festival,
San Diego Black Film Festival, Shure University International Film Festival, Tokyo, Japan, and St. Louis International Film Festival. Hopefully, they will add Poe Film Festival to their list in the fall.

Hollins University is home to fewer than 1,000 students in an idyllic setting near Roanoke. Historically, a women’s college, Hollins has achieved national recognition for its international diversity of students, enormously high job placement numbers and a ton of majors that attracts top talent – film studies among them.

Associate Professor of film, Amy Gerber-Stroh, is rightfully proud of her comprehensive film production program. As she said recently, “Very few schools in the nation offer an undergraduate all-woman film program, particularly a program that includes film/video production.” Clearly, Hollins University understands the value of visual arts in filmmaking as a growing national industry and, accordingly, supports its program financially.

The Poe Film Festival welcomes their stories and invites Hollins students to submit their short films and documentaries on our website, starting April 1. (Normally, at this point in our profile, we say something like Go Tigers, but we were informed that Hollins has no official mascot title.) Go Hollinses!

Campus Profile: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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

Or Virginia Tech, for short.

We at Poe Film Festival are so delighted to welcome the Hokies to our College Film Awards in October. Last year, Tech filmmakers traveled more than three hours to our event in Richmond and entertained the Grace Theater crowd with two Official Selections that mirrored the intensity of Poe stories.

“Did You Know,” by Sophia Okorn was a dramatic documentary exploring the psychological harm of sexual abuse on college campuses – topical in these times of #MeToo and the Hollywood scandals. “Jiggle The Knob,” a narrative short by Steven Burneson, featured tension between two college roommates during an impromptu camping experience. Both films exhibited the depth of storytelling that our judges sought for awards.

Our Poe Festival caravan traveled to Blacksburg in Southwest Virginia this week to meet with Tech’s film studies professor Dr. Charles Dye. He spoke of the growing potential of his school’s film program, noting that its cinema major soon will have its own degree rather than a theater arts degree. Tech has hired accomplished faculty and upgraded its film curriculum (one-half of its courses in acting and writing, and the other half in production).

We at Poe, though, are interested primarily in story. How does Tech promote the Poe style of lean writing and growing intensity? “We push story in this school,” Dr. Dye told us, adding that its second emphasis is sound. (It’s a message we’ve heard at a number of colleges this spring — improving audio is a major goal.)

Additionally, Virginia Tech’s strengths stem from both narrative and documentary filmmaking courses. Dr. Dye noted that student documentaries are in production this spring and the school may have difficulty choosing among them for our contest. What a wonderful problem to have!

So we welcome our most distant invitee school to the mix for 2018. Bring us your “A” game. Go Hokies!

Campus Profile: Roanoke College

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

The Poe Film Festival caravan touched down in a rainy Salem, Virginia, yesterday as we celebrated the upstart and accomplished film program at Roanoke College.

The second oldest Lutheran college in America, chartered in 1853, Roanoke College features a wide variety of liberal arts education courses for its 2,000 students. Among its dozens of majors is “Screen Studies,” directed by our good friend, Dr. Robert Schultz, a National Endowment of the Arts fellow and prolific writer.

Dr. Schultz has surely passed his creative writing vibe to his students as well. One of our 2017 College Film Awards Official Selection films was “Positive” by Roanoke College’s Harrison Mines. Harrison and many of her college friends participated in our awards event last November in Richmond and obviously enjoyed seeing “Positive” on the big screen and networking with filmmakers from throughout the Commonwealth.

Roanoke College utilizes a cross-disciplinary approach to filmmaking, incorporating educational courses in literature, history, creative writing and fine arts. It’s a approach that’s netting success. Our stroll through the college’s tree-lined campus convinced us that Roanoke’s students are inspired, well-grounded, and anxious to share their experiences on film.

We look forward to more submissions from these gifted filmmakers of tomorrow. Go Maroons!

Grounds Profile: University of Virginia

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

Virginia’s flagship university can be proud of many accomplishments — its world class research hospital, spectacular business school, international academic reputation, and rich history. Perhaps someday U.Va. can add a high achieving film school to that list.

Puzzling to us, this gem of a university hosts the east coast’s largest and most prestigious film festival, the Virginia Film Festival, every November. Yet, Virginia students are rendered to a largely passive role during the week-long celebration. They watch films of visiting professionals, listen to panel discussions by writers and directors, and absorb the fun and excitement of Charlottesville’s Hollywood moment.

Our efforts to locate a U.Va. faculty member as a liaison with the student film community in the past two years have been futile. The course curriculum for cinema studies is taught by adjunct professors who come and go. Film is not a major at this major university.

We visited the grounds of Thomas Jefferson’s college recently and met directly with student filmmakers. They were excited to learn that their creative work can be submitted for free to our college competition this year through our website. Some students are interested in submitting to our documentary short competition as well.

No doubt — University of Virginia students are among the brightest, high energy young people in the Commonwealth. The prospect of receiving their short films for our judges is more exciting to us than an ACC basketball championship.

We welcome U.Va. to our list of invited schools. Go Cavaliers!