Student Film Fest: peeking behind the scenes

This week you have a unique opportunity to view 25 original films from high school and college student filmmakers at the 2012 Princeton Student Film Festival on Wednesday, July 18, and Thursday, July 19. Wondering how are these films selected? Let’s unfurl the curtain so we can show you the backstage operation.

The Community Room at PPL is dark. A table is strewn with DVDs. The projector is warmed up. A screening committee, including local high school and college students, film professionals, and library staff volunteers, gathers. This group’s mission is to view selections from the student submissions. Each night, for two or three hours, the committee plunges into the imaginative worlds presented by a diverse group of young filmmakers. We don’t know anything about the film as we preview it. No names, no ages, and no locations are revealed until the selection committee previews and offers reactions to each film.

Seesawing from music videos to musical comedy to spoofs and satire, and from short, playful animations to serious documentaries, each evening’s viewing is a uniquely intense and stimulating experience. As we respond and react to each film, personalities and preferences definitely surface. We look for a mix of visual styles and topical themes in the films. Munching popcorn, we laugh, question, wonder, speculate, Google, giggle, and debate. The reviewers are occasionally awed but rarely speechless. We talk about genres, techniques, Bollywood, fairy tales, actors, costumes, props and ambience. We decide that cheese Popcorners© rule the snack world (and they’re gluten free). We even learn a new and effective way to swat bugs. Shall I share some teaser quotes from this year’s screenings? “That one came from the ‘beyond’ aisle at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.” “I thought I was trapped in a Seinfeld episode.” “It’s the Romeo and Juliet of fruit.” “That rock had the power, yo.” Come see the films and send us your tag lines—leave a comment on this post after the Student Film Festival!

Backstage photo courtesy of Toby Simkin on FLICKR

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