Students Showcasing Creativity at Fault Line Film Festival


faultline-film-festival-2015Students who someday dream of seeing their work on the Hollywood big screen have the opportunity to display their creative talents at the seventh annual Fault Line Film Festival Nov. 9-11 at Southeast Missouri State University.

Southeast students as well as those from across Missouri and bordering states are expected to enter their films in this year’s competition.  An awards ceremony is planned for noon on Nov. 9 in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall at the River Campus, with a Gala event and film screening to follow at 7 p.m. Nov. 11 in Rose Theatre. The gala also features the awarding of door prizes and the presentation of the Cape Air Audience Choice Award.

“The festival is a showcase for the exceptional students we have at our University and throughout the region,” said Fred Jones, professor in the Department of Mass Media. “I think local audiences would be surprised at the quality of these student films.  There are so many talented filmmakers and actors here at Southeast, and throughout the Midwest.  It’s always a terrific event.

“The festival is open to any and all Southeast students … and we highly encourage other departments to get involved,” he added. “Every year we get at least one film made by a non-film major that has great success in the festival.”

Rhonda Weller-Stilson, associate dean and director of the Earl and Margie Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts, added, “The Fault Line Film Festival is an excellent example of an interdisciplinary event that provides experiential learning opportunities for all majors at Southeast and other universities. Students from multiple disciplines come together to direct, perform, design and produce 10-minute films.  We are providing an avenue for students to not only learn more about the art of filmmaking, but also to have an opportunity to collaborate with fellow students.”

The festival also is open to any university/college student from Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Iowa and Arkansas.

Student filmmakers line the stage during the Fault-Line Film Festival showing at the Rose Theater on Friday, November, 22, 2013.

Student filmmakers line the stage during the Fault-Line Film Festival showing at the Rose Theater on Friday, November, 22, 2013.

“We have received entries from each of those states in the past, and several of our award winners have come from outside of the state,” Jones said.  “Our plan is to slowly start expanding the festival to other states in the Midwest … and maybe one day we will be a national festival.”

Dr. Kenn Stilson, chair of The Conservatory of Theatre and Dance, said, “The festival is a fantastic collaboration between various disciplines, and we’re thrilled to be part of it every year. Most of our actors plan to go into both the theatre and film industries, and about half of our BFA Acting majors move to Los Angeles after graduation. The Fault Line Film Festival is an excellent opportunity for them to hone their skills in front of a camera. This also gives them the video footage they’ll need for the actor’s reel—an important part of their online portfolio.”

He calls the festival “a true collaboration. The film/TV students hold auditions for their films here at the River Campus, and many of our acting and musical theater majors play principal roles in their projects. We also encourage our actors to explore the idea of becoming filmmakers—directing and editing their own films. Conversely, many of the film/TV majors act in the films.”

Weller Stilson added, “Each year the quality has gone up. It’s amazing to see the growth of our students.  By having universities such as Lindenwood, Northwest Missouri State University and students from Arkansas and Tennessee participating, we are now a regional festival.  We have added professional film makers to the jury process.  It has had a very positive impact on the festival.”

Clips of award-winning film entries will be shown at the awards ceremony on Nov. 9, and a keynote presentation by Southeast alumna Laura Haug, project coordinator with Aligned Media in St. Louis, and Dillon Gemmill, a freelance producer, is planned for noon that day in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall.

Haug graduated from Southeast in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science with a major in mass communication, corporate video option, with an emphasis in TV and film. At the completion of her degree, Haug moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in post-production. Starting as an executive assistant at a post-production trailer house creating short-form and long-form commercials for major motion pictures, she then moved on to become project manager at a television post-production facility.  In addition to her work in the post-production industry, she began an education in yoga and energy healing, eventually starting her own healing business. She now resides in St. Louis with her fiancé, Gemmill, and has blended her two passions of media and healing. She currently works at Aligned Media as a project coordinator.

Gemmill has worked in post-production in Los Angeles and the St. Louis market. After graduating from the Los Angeles Recording School, Gemmill started as an intern on the hit CBS show “NCIS: Los Angeles,” eventually working his way up to post production supervisor. After six seasons on the show, he left to obtain his private pilot license flying helicopters. He now resides in St. Louis with his fiancé, Haug, as a freelance producer.

“We’re thrilled to have Laura Haug return to Southeast as our keynote speaker for the 7th annual Fault Line Film Festival awards ceremony.  As a student Laura was a successful producer and editor and worked as one of only two production supervisors in the TV & Film area,” said Dr. Jim Dufek, professor and TV & Film operations manager in the Department of Mass Media. “After leaving Southeast, Laura moved to Los Angeles to work in the film industry in post-production and creating trailers (short-form and long-form commercials) for major motion pictures. She has had great success and she’ll provide insight to a side of the film industry that students will immediately recognize but don’t always think about.

Haug and Gemmill also will host a master class on post-production techniques at 2 p.m. Nov. 9 in Rose Theatre.

“We’re elated to have these two experienced professionals spend the day with our students for the opening of the Fault Line Film Festival,” Dufek said.


Jeffrey Michael Bays

In addition, the festival will feature a second presentation by Jeffrey Michael Bays at 2 p.m. Nov. 10 in Rose Theatre. He is an author, filmmaker, YouTuber and award-winning radio producer. Bays is a frequent contributor to MovieMaker Magazine, No Film School and The Director’s Chair, and is producer of the film series, “Hitch20.” In 2013, he wrote “Between the Scenes” – the first book ever written for filmmakers about the power of scene transitions. Bays is a leading scholar on Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense techniques. His radio productions have been heard on SiriusXM Satellite Radio.

Festival organizers say the event is the culmination of hours of work by students.

“There are so many difficulties that arise during filmmaking, so the students really have to learn how to persevere and protect their vision of the film,” Jones said. “But when everything comes together, it is such an exhilarating experience to have their work screened in front of an enthusiastic audience.  And sometimes that film will be the thing that opens the door to their future success.”

Each film is entered into one of five categories: animation, comedy, drama, mystery/suspense and other, which is for films that do not fall into one of the other categories. An award for best film is given within each category, as well as an award for Best of Festival. In addition, an award is given to a film that showcases outstanding technical achievement, and another is given to a film that the audience deems worthy.

“We have had such a great variety of films that have done well at our festival,” Jones said. “Our award winners tend to be films that not only have a high level of technical excellence, but also have an emotional impact on the audience. Great storytelling will never go out of style.”

The awards are $250 per category and the Best of Festival winner will receive a $1,000 prize.

The Fault Line Film Festival is made possible by the generosity of several entities including this year’s sponsors – Cape Air; the Office of the Provost; the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship; the College of Liberal Arts; the College of Science, Technology and Agriculture; the Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts; The Conservatory of Theatre and Dance; the Department of Mass Media; and the Department of Polytechnic Studies.

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