ACU’s 11th FilmFest to take place March 20

Posted March 12, 2015

Abilene Christian University will conduct its 11th Film Fest March 20 – a film competition for students who create short films to be judged by industry professionals.

The FilmFest process will culminate with a red-carpet gala at the Paramount Theatre, 352 Cypress St., at 8 p.m. The best films of the competition will be shown on the big screen during the two-hour production with awards such as Best Director, Best Producer and Best Picture presented in an awards-show format. The gala is open to the public, and admission is free.

A student team has guided the FilmFest process through education and production phases. Twelve student teams are working to produce films, involving more than 50 students as directors, producers, engineers, designers and actors.

The students’ work will be judged by a mix of industry professionals, including:

Sandra Amstutz – Amstutz is an advertising representative for Fastline Publications with a focus on digital marketing. Her territory covers the state of Tennessee, and she serves primarily agricultural equipment dealers, helping them market their products through catalogues and websites.  Sandra graduated from ACU in 2011.

Will Bakke – Bakke is an award-winning filmmaker from Austin. While still in college, Will was hired by MTV to write and develop a comedy series that landed him among the “Top 25 Filmmakers on Campus,” presented by MTVU. After moving on to direct two feature-length documentaries, he landed a worldwide distribution deal for his films, premiering in more than 17 film festivals. He recently directed his first narrative feature film titled “Believe Me” which includes familiar faces such as Nick Offerman and Lecrae.

Randy Brewer – Brewer formed Revolution Pictures in 1997 to become one of the preeminent commercial and music video production companies in the nation. Currently, Revolution represents some of the top directors in the creative industry with high-end clients such as Taylor Swift, Yahoo, Justin Bieber, Honda, Kelly Clarkson, and others. Randy graduated from ACU in 1993.

Al Haley – Haley is a professor of English and writer-in-residence at ACU. Along with teaching fiction and poetry writing, he teaches screen writing classes at ACU. Haley is the 2010 recipient of the Elmer Kelton Prize for creative non-fiction writing, a published novelist, winner of the John Irving First Novel Award, and published author of several poems and short stories.

Christina Johnson – Johnson is an associate producer, writer and researcher for AMS Pictures. She is producing documentaries and television shows for the following networks: HGTV, History Channel, Food Network, Reelz and PBS. She has also worked in the story development departments of Walt Disney Studios, The Kennedy/Marshall Company and Lucasfilms. She graduated from ACU in 2011 and is also a graduate of the Los Angeles Film Studies Center.

Brent McCorkle - McCorkle is a feature filmmaker from Nashville. He is a writer, producer, director and composer. His debut film, “Unconditional,” was released in 2012. He is originally from the DFW Metroplex and studied film at SMU. Brent has written, directed, scored and produced numerous award-winning short films.

Kris Young - Young teaches screenwriting at the LA Film Studies Center and UCLA. He has written six movies for the Disney Channel, pilots for Nickelodeon and CBS and was even a lyricist for a major R&B record company. He has written many national TV commercials and award-winning scripts.

All judges except for Bakke will be present for the gala awards event and other activities on campus. Brewer and McCorkle will be on campus Thursday speaking in classes, and all judges (except for Bakke) will participate in a brown bag lunch Friday, March 20, where the conversation will focus around how the film and entertainment industry works.

The judges on campus will reconvene Saturday morning with the student teams to give them direct feedback on how to improve their film making skills.

The team of student leaders includes Stephen Estrada, senior management major from San Antonio; Hilary Commer, senior graphic design/advertising major from San Antonio; David Porter, senior theatre major from Ijamsville, Md.; Logan Sartain, senior advertising/public relations major from Lindale; Cannon Spears, senior digital entertainment technology/vocational missions major from Abilene; and Alikay Wood, senior English major from Sacramento, Calif.

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