Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Fault-Line Film Festival accepts films from any Missouri college student

Monday, October 22, 2012
Students celebrate after the announcement of the Audience's Choice award winner last year. Photo by Hunter Hempen

The Fault-Line Film Festival is a competition organized by the mass media department at Southeast Missouri State University for students to showcase their talents by putting together a story for film.

Dr. James Dufek, professor of mass media and TV and film operations manager, said this festival is not just for TV and film students.

"It's for everybody because everyone has a story," Dufek said.

Students from all disciplines can tell a story through comedy, drama, science fiction or animation.

Dufek said that students have the propensity to use profanity in every film they make.

"Last year the festival was for a mature audience because they were very expressive with their dialogue," Dufek said. "This is not for kids. Some of the things are very simple and wouldn't offend anybody, and some are trying to make a point by using their tools available."

Dufek said that he does not want the audience to categorize the event as one where only profanity is shown.

"We don't know what the product will be this year," Dufek said. "You want them to be as open and expressive as they feel necessary."

Students and faculty work together to organize and produce the event, including the Department of Mass Media, Department of Theatre & Dance, Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts, College of Liberal Arts, Department of Industrial and Engineering Technology and the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Southeast.

According to Dufek, there is an artistic and creative background with all the developers and the judges. The seven or eight judges will select the winners and runners up according to a determined criteria, such as contextual and storytelling techniques, composition, sound bed, music, dialogue, acting and lighting.

Dufek said it is a combination of production and storytelling.

"We had a couple of submissions where the quality of the product is just beautiful, but there's no story," Dufek said. "Then we have some that the story is developing but the production quality is so bad we weren't able to hear it, understand it."

This is the third year of the festival but the second year that it is going statewide. Any student from a Missouri university is eligible to participate in the festival. There were almost 50 entries last year and organizers hope to have more this year.

There is no limit to the number of students that can be involved in each film, but films can be only 10 minutes long. Last year there were some teams that had 20-30 students involved, while some groups had only four members.

Students who are not mass media majors are not allowed to use the department's equipment becuase it is expensive and they need to teach students to use it. Students have used their own cameras and iPhones and edited on their laptops.

"It's been proven now that you don't need the highest end, high-end digital HD stuff to do a good story," Dufek said. "It would be wonderful to have a shot in HD and better lighting, but the fact that the story was told was moving, did its job, you look past some of the production elements that could have been better because they did a good job with what they had."

Associate professor Fred Jones and Dufek worked with the advertising and public relations students to build a plan. But when they had a marketing and development plan, they had no way to fund it nor resources to promote it.

According to Dufek, this is where James Stapleton from the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship came in. Dufek said Stapleton wanted to include the mass media in the center's Global Entrepreneurship Week.

"This wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship," Dufek said.

TV and film graduate Robert Speurlock developed the logo while he was a student at Southeast.

"We wanted to tie in the earthquake faultline with the festival," Dufek said. "If you are from this area we are sitting in a pretty intense fault line that could erupt in any time so we just tied in with the FFF."

The Fault-Line Film Festival Group was formed to combine different talents and share resources, abilities and skills to make the festival possible. The group also helps with the marketing, set up, screening and other manual labor activities.

The festival features a guest speaker each year. Steven Poster, 2002-2003 president of the American Society of Cinematographers in Hollywood, was one of the featured speakers Southeast brought to talk about light shooting in the masters class during the award winners ceremony last year.

This year's speaker will be David Johnson, president and partner of Coolfire Media and board member at Cinema St. Louis. Coolfire Media is a St. Louis company that produces commercials and a reality show called "Sweetie Pie's" on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

The award ceremony will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall. There will be $4,000 in awards and prizes. Each team will get a crystal trophy if they win an award.

The awards include: Best in Show and a certificate to runners up, the Judges Award, and an Audience Choice Award. This award will be determined by tallying ballots handed out at the two-hour screening of the winners and other entries during a screening open to students at 7 p.m. on Nov. 16. at Rose Theatre. There also will be a screening open to the community on Saturday, Nov. 17.

Dufek said he hopes students understand the script to screen process.

"Putting that on their lap, giving it to them and saying produce this, with no support, no help, having to coordinate their production and talent schedules, post-production, plan their script, book locations, compose shots in a single camera style, are among the several things students need to take into account while shooting a film," Dufek said.

In order to collect funds, there will be T-shirts sold at $12-15, and the Saturday screening will cost $5 to attend.

"We want to have a donation attached to it to help offset costs in the future," Dufek said.

There is no profit made with any of the selling. The money collected goes right back into the festival to help fund the event.

The committee's long-term goal is to make the festival nationally recognized.

"We want this to be able to grow and students to get exposure to go to the next level, to independent film-making," Dufek said. "We hope to go national."