For student filmmakers, entering into big festivals can be intimidating. Festivals often require fees to submit work, and it can be difficult for students to feel welcome in what is usually a very competitive space. Luckily, the organizers of the Boston Student Film Festival, currently working on this year’s event, seek to create an opportunity for undergraduates to share their work and meet other student filmmakers in the Boston area.
The Boston Student Film Festival, previously known as the Hub Student Film Festival, is a one-day event at the Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square meant to bring together student filmmakers from different schools and showcase their work. Benedikt Reynolds, the festival’s director, originally created the festival to address the fear surrounding festival submission for students.
“We realized that film festivals are super intimidating for a lot of people and cost a lot to submit, and because of that most students don’t enter the film festival circuit,” he said. “So, we were like, okay, let’s make it free to submit … let’s get rid of all the judges and that stuff. Let’s just say, ‘Hey, we wanna show off your work.’”
This year’s event, scheduled for March 21, will be only the second iteration of the festival. Any film or piece created during an undergraduate career is eligible (under 15 minutes due to the time constraints of the screening), and all genres and forms are welcome. Brigitte Gong, a fifth-year at Northeastern and the festival’s marketing director, originally got involved in planning the festival after her film was screened at last year’s event.
“A lot of film festivals are hard to get into — you have to pay a lot of fees, you’re competing with people who probably have a lot better access to equipment and time,” Gong said. “So I think for students to have the ability to see their work somewhere and also other people’s work is really cool, especially — at least for undergrads — it’s a little more even footing in terms of what we’re given and what we have time to do.”
In addition to allowing students to see their own work in a real theater — which can be a rare experience for student filmmakers — Reynolds and the event organizers also hope that the festival builds community between different Boston-area schools. For Gong, attending the festival last year was an opportunity for just that.
“The thing I liked most about it was seeing other people’s work because I had no idea what my peers at, you know, Harvard or Emerson or Brandeis were making and it was really cool to see what they film. Especially because we’re all in a similar space — we use the city as a backdrop, which is really cool,” Gong said.
In addition, the genres of the selected films varied greatly last year, creating a program that screened a wide selection of styles. “We’re really trying to create a space where any type of work is welcome,” Gong said. “Something that I really liked seeing last year was that there were so many different genres of videos. We had music videos, more experimental work, animation.”
“It depends on the school’s personality,” Reynolds said. “For example, Emerson had a little bit longer, more production-heavy films, whereas MassArt had short little one-minute films and animations … Making it one regional film festival as well as providing it to undergrads, you kind of hone in on a lot of the niche students bring.”
Last year, the festival screened 29 films from 12 colleges; this year, the planners hope to increase the number of colleges involved. According to Reynolds, the festival received no submissions from Tufts last year; the organizers are eager to showcase Tufts films this year.
In addition, the creators are looking to make the event itself as collaborative and welcoming a space as possible so that students have the opportunity to interact with their peers at other universities. Savannah Edmondson, a senior at Brandeis and the festival’s producer, said, “The Boston schools are a little spread out and everybody is working on stuff during the semester, so this is a place where they can come and feel like there’s no pressure to live up to a certain standard and everyone can just revel in being creative and being around other creatives.”
To that end, the organizers are considering building in time for mingling after the screening, as well as possible Q&A sessions.
“Last year, the time was a little crunched, and people weren’t allowed that opportunity to mingle afterward, so we’re just trying to make sure we have enough time so that students can hang out and feel comfortable talking to each other about what they just saw, rather than leaving and staying in your bubbles,” Edmondson said. “We really want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable in the space and talks to each other after.”
Gong and Edmondson also stressed that anyone who is interested in seeing student film should come to this year’s festival.
“Come out to see something super creative,” Edmondson said. “You might get inspired to make something.”
This year’s Boston Student Film Festival will be on March 21 at the Brattle Theatre. The submission deadline for this year’s festival is March 7. Submission information can be found at www.bostonstudentfilm.org.