Author Archives: Daniel Levesque

Helpful Premiere Pro Shortcuts

So we all love editing, that’s why we chose this major, but sometimes we are in a hurry and need to export a video asa fast as we can. Although hanging in Axinn basement until 4AM may just be your “thing”, I want to make sure that you can get out of there quicker if it isn’t. So with that in mind here are some helpful Premiere Pro keyboard shortcuts. I’ll link a list of all possible shortcuts here, but I don’t want to overwhelm you all, so for now here are the ones I use most frequently.

CTRL+Z

Most of you have probably used this one already or have figured out that it is the same as Microsoft Word and many other programs, but I want to be safe. This may be the single most used command for me. It is an all purpose undo command that will revert all actions you have taken for up to roughly 50 actions. So if you thought you were deleting one clip and accidentally deleted multiple, do not panic. Ctrl + Z will get you out of many sticky situations.

Up/Down on the Arrow Keys

Up will take your playhead to the next cut and down will take your playhead to the previous cut. Sounds super simple, but most people don’t discover this until using Premiere Pro for a few months. It’s a great way to move through your timeline and check your work. Also just great for helping you start playing from a specific moment like the start of a scene.

Alt

If you press on its own, it moves the playhead to the start of the timeline. It’s a very simple and intuitive shortcut that is often overlooked in tutorials. Dragging your playhead through all the way back through a laggy timeline can waste a lot of time over the course of a project.

Shift Delete

If you don’t know this yet, it’s a game changer. This does what’s called a “ripple delete”. Essentially if you delete a clip that is sandwiched in-between two other clips, this command will bridge that gap and bring close the black space that you would create had you simply deleted the clip. The time I spent editing projects decreased dramatically after finding out about this command and its cousin, Ripple Trim (Ctrl+drag), which does the same thing when you shorten existing clips.

Alt + Arrow Keys

Use this when selecting a clip to move it one frame at a time. This is super handy when you want to get your audio just right in relation your footage. It also saves you from having to zoom in and painstakingly move your mouse to just the right spot.

G

Hitting “G” allows you to adjust the gain (volume) of an audio clip. It even preselects the box, so you can simply enter how many decibels you want the clip to increase/reduce by. All in all very hand for quicker editing.

CTRL + R

Allows you to adjust a clip’s speed to create an over-cranking/under-cranking effect. This saves you a good bit of time scrolling through a drop down menu or the effects tab.

There are many more shortcuts out there that I encourage you to explore, but if you are new to using Premiere Pro, this is a good start. I kid you not when I say that if you implement these commands as a beginner, you can cut down your editing time by a third. If you intend to edit for a client, a big selling point can often be the speed with which you can turn around a high quality video. I know it’s a lot to remember when all your attention is on editing, but try and time yourself when editing projects. Note the time, try to implement more shortcuts or a better workflow on the next project and see what can help you save time without compromising on quality.

Films That Made Me Think Critically About My Cinematography

I’ve somewhat accepted that at this point, I will do just about every one of these entries as a David Letterman-style list. It helps to give my writing structure and it seems as if more people are willing to read something in this style. So for this week’s installment of FMMC Buzzfeed, I’d like to talk about some movies that helped me to get inspired behind the camera. This is not a list of the best shot films, but it is a list of ones that I think the average person can find enjoyable while also noticing and appreciating their cinematic uniqueness. I’ve managed to tame my inner snob and have avoided adding films like Stalker and 8 1/12. I would still recommend them, but I want to keep this list accessible to a wider audience. I’ve chosen these films for a variety of different reasons, but the one connecting thread is that they have accomplished something unique behind the camera that I have wanted to emulate in my own filmmaking.

Waves (2019) DP: Drew Daniels

For starters this is basically two films in terms of style. In the first half, the cinematography is extremely kinetic. The camera literally does not stop moving until a tragic turning point in the story. After an hour of that whirlwind style, the emotional blow of the story’s midpoint hits you as an audience member. I felt my heat drop when I first saw the film in theaters. The second half is much more traditional in terms of cinematography, but retains some of the slight graceful movements of the first half. Almost as if a depression has blanketed across the characters and the camera itself, making it harder for them to move as freely. There are a great many documentaries, skate films, and high-octane action films with a similar amount of movement, but never this controlled. The handful of slight shakey-cam accents are extremely intentional. I am frankly still unaware of how a film can contain this much movement without feeling like an amusement park ride. Speaking of which…

City of God (2002) DP: César Charlone

City of God feels like a fly on the wall style documentary in so many ways. The staging is done so impeccably that you feel as if you might not witness what’s in the next shot. The characters do not feel bound by the frame at all and yet everything is still captured. The effect of this shooting style is an extremely raw and emotionally charged atmosphere that imbues the plot with so much more of an emotional punch.

Mid90s (2018) DP: Chris Blauvelt

When it comes to capturing the atmosphere of an era, look no further than Mid90s. The set decoration and wardrobe are doing some heavy lifting, but it is the cinematography that makes you feel as if you are watching a product of the 1990s. The choice to shoot on 16mm with a relatively high ISO made the film feel like a prolonged skate flick. Other hallmarks of skater films from that era like fish-eye lenses, and the lesser used 1.37:1 aspect ratio make the final product ooze cultural ambience.

Portrait of a Woman on Fire (2019) DP: Claire Mathon

Ok, so I know I said I would avoid pretentious films, but I just couldn’t help myself on this one. It may not be the most exhilarating film, but it will still easily keep viewers attention, which is strange because it breaks from so many modern conventions. The norm nowadays is snappy dialogue and quick cuts, but Portrait of a Woman on Fire intentionally avoids that altogether. The dialogue alone doesn’t even tell a complete story of the complex relationship that emerges between the two leads. Portrait of a Woman on Fire is a prime example of a visually driven story. So much character development and plot comes from the shots. I would like to say more, but I’m afraid to give away what makes this film so special.

There Will Be Blood (2007) DP: Robert Elswit

I could really go on here, but to put it simply, this is a film without a wasted shot. Every shot here aids in developing a character, progressing the story, or both. It’s all so painfully intentional and methodically planned that it would be hard to recreate if given all the time in the world.

Her (2013) DP: Hoyte van Hoytema

Oftentimes when people think of cinematographic styles they gravitate towards something like Wes Anderson and Robert Yeoman’s iconic look. This is all well and good, but most style in cinematography is far more subtle. Additionally, I’m of the opinion that your style should add to the story. When styles like Yeoman’s are on display, I find myself extremely distracted by the spectacle of this look and less involved in the story. Her, stands out to me in this way. Its style so thoroughly compliments the story that the two feel inseparable. The way Joaquin Phoenix sits in the frame is so out of place. Hoytema uses depth of field artfully to emphasize the separation between Phoenix’s character and the rest of the world. Furthermore the color palette, lenses, camera, exposure, and color correction all blend in a mesmerizing way. The end product is visual poetry.

Hero (2002) DP: Christopher Doyle

I could go on with this list for an annoying amount of time, but for now I would like to leave you with the film that first opened my eyes to the art of filmmaking. Hero has every right to be an over-the-top action film with zero imagination behind its camerawork. It could’ve made a lot of money doing just that. But instead, it is a truly innovative masterpiece. In the film, few trusted individuals are allowed within 100-paces of the Chinese emperor. Therefore, spacial relations are played with in a number of unique ways to denote trust, status, importance, etc. The film also utilizes a unique form of storytelling that sees the colors black, white, red, green, and blue used to represent the subjective perspectives of individual characters who witnessed the same events. The transitions between these perspectives/colors is masterful and a delight to watch.

Websites for FMMC Majors

Filmmaking and getting acquainted with film can be intimidating in a variety of different ways, but luckily we now have the internet to answer the questions we’re too afraid to ask. I’ve compiled a short list of websites that I have used over the years that have helped me in one way or the other helped me better my understanding of filmmaking. There’s a wide range of sites here, so even if you are not much of a shooter, there are still numerous resources for you.

Vimeo

Alright, you definitely know this one, but if you haven’t created an account already, I would highly recommend doing so. If you are a filmmaker, this is the cheapest way to allow future employers or clients to view your work in a high quality. And even if you aren’t a shooter, there is a wide array of films here for your viewing pleasure. Check out “Staff Picks” tab to discover what has been catching people’s attention recently. Some films on here tend to straddle that line between amateur and professional, making it interesting to see what other filmmakers are achieving with limited resources.

No Film School

The premise is in the title, this website should give you enough information so that you will need “no film school”. The articles here are range on everything from equipment reviews to film history essays. If you are at all interested in film, there is something here for you. The tone and style of these articles also tends to be much more digestible and friendly towards beginners. I was intimidated by film theory for some time because of the dense academic language, but articles on this website helped me get a better grasp of the subject matter.

Letterboxd

Letterboxd is an open source film/TV review site and tracker that helps viewers catalog the media they’ve watched. This allows you to track what movies you have seen, create lists of similar movies, and leave reviews. These reviews are all available to other users. This means that you can search for others lists, so if you are looking for movies similar to a niche title or want movies in a sub-genre that isn’t easily google-able, then you will likely find something on Letterboxd. Users can also leave ratings on a five star scale, and all scores are compiled from users for each film. I enjoy these ratings because Letterboxd users tend to be film geeks, but not as pretentious as critics. Oftentimes if there is a large discrepancy between a critic score and an audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, I check Letterboxd for clarity. If the score is high, it’s likely an under appreciated gem, but if not then it is likely something critics are hyping up.

FilmFreeway

If you want to submit any of your work to a festival, this is pretty much your one stop shop. Festivals as big as Sundance and as small as new regional fests use FilmFreeway to collect submissions. If you are considering submitting work in the future, you might want to create your account now to save yourself some time.

Free Sound

Free Sound is an open source and free to use database for sound effects. If you want to heighten your film’s overall production value by adding in authentic sound effects, this is a good place to begin your search. The site has numerous regular contributors with varying levels of experience in audio production, so there is some variation in quality. However, with a little effort, you can find some real gems that will help bring your film to life. Most importantly, all sounds here are in the public domain without attribution, making it very attractive for films without much of a budget.

Keh.com

Keh.com is a used camera exchange where amateur and professional videographers sell their used gear at discounted prices. This is the most widely used of a genre of websites. If you search “video gear exchange website” you will find many just like it. If you are looking to beef up your personal equipment to work on your own productions during the summer or after college, this is a good place to hunt for affordable gear.

Lessons I Learned the Hard Way at FMMC…

It’s my last semester here at Middlebury and looking back on it all, I’ve had a lot of fun. I learned a lot in the FMMC department, but much of it I learned by failing spectacularly. I’m talking corrupted files, lost locations, getting threatened with trespassing for using other locations, actors who didn’t show, etc. Each time one of these tragedies befalls me, I learn my lesson and never repeat myself. Some of these lessons I needed to experience firsthand to internalize and others I really just wish I had been told. So this is me telling you the things I’ve learned after four years of making student films.

Put More Time into Preproduction

I swear, 90% of the truly disastrous mistakes you can make on a set could be prevented if more time and care was out into preproduction. I skimped on preproduction for maybe the first year I made films. After deciding to put more time into it than an hour-long brain storming session, I immediately saw the quality of my films go up. It is time consuming for sure, but do the storyboards, do the table-reads, make the schedules, and practice your camera movements. I promise you, you will see the difference. It’s also really a good idea to familiarize yourself with equipment inside and out. At the bare minimum, make sure you are confident that you can use your equipment to do everything you want to do on set. If you have more time learn how to use it in varying conditions or in more complex ways that you might want to experiment with later on. Also if you think “you’ve got an alright handle on it” go back and use that equipment more anyways. You may be able to do a crazy camera move using a friend as a stand-in in your dorm, but you need to be able to repeat that movement when you are tired, on a deadline, and under pressure from all the other cast and crew on set.

Charge Your Batteries and Make Space on Your SD Cards

This one is short, but it deserves its own bullet point. These two mistakes have ruined so many shoots. Even if you got the equipment straight from the gear room, check the batteries and storage. Bring more than you need of both if possible.

Give Yourself More Time Than You Need

We’re all awful judges of how much time shots take because we don’t like to admit to ourselves that we might have to spend hours getting a handful of shots. If you are planning a shoot, especially if you need to change locations midday, always a lot more time than you think. You will probably use that time and more in the end. Also if you can, get yourself an assistant director to manage the schedule and be a hardo about time. You and most of your crew will want to stay on a shot until it’s perfect, but you need someone to be the voice of reason. It’s not a glamorous job, but the good news is that the skills required aren’t necessarily film related so you can recruit just about any friend. I recommend getting someone you have a good rapport with and who is not afraid to say “you’re wrong” to your face.

Work in Certainties

There may be an actor who says should be able to get there by 4:00pm as long as their class wraps up on time. You may think you can shoot there without permit or permission from the owner. There’s like a 95% chance that I can borrow that piece of equipment from another FMMC major. Stop it, don’t do it. Go the extra mile, confirm everything, and adjust to be safe if you have to.

Call Actors Long Before You Need Them

Since I am still (barely) a college student, I can say without judgement that we are not the most reliable people. Even when you have an actors who loves the script and is dedicated to the project, they’re still often liable to show up 15 minutes late. They’ve got a full course load too and sadly your film might not be their top priority. So always make sure to leave wiggle room in the schedule to allow for this. Your crew will generally be better since they have also been in your position before, but never plan to start at the exact call time. Things come up, people underestimate how long it takes to walk places, and sometimes mistakes are made. Just be aware of it and be ready. Also make sure to set dates for shoots with your cast and crew long in advance so you can plan accordingly if someone bails.

Sound is More Important Than You Think

I often find myself getting obsessed with my film’s visuals and devoting a fraction of my time to sound. I’ve found that this is pretty commonplace among student films, which means that you can stand out by taking that extra step. Always have a dedicated sound-person who is listening to the recorder on set. It’s tempting to just set up a boom on a C-Stand and use what limited crew you have elsewhere, but that has gotten me in trouble more times than I care to mention. Some easy ways to increase your sound quality include asking people to be quiet if you’re shooting in public, unplugging refrigerators or other appliances with a motor, pointing the mic away from a major road, and always getting room tone at the time of the shoot.

Check the Weather if Shooting Outside

Have a rain-date too. That’s it, it’s another short one.

Get a Camera Operator Who Isn’t Yourself and a Monitor

I wouldn’t recommend this for newer filmmakers, but if you are doing Filmmaking II, senior work, or any other advanced production course, then this is for you. You may be tempted to work behind the camera and grab your production by the horns, but you probably are trying to do too much. You need to work with actors, double check everyone else’s work, help implement a vision, and give loads of directions. Adding camera operation on top of that is tough. Having someone who is solely focusing on the shot composition and movement is a great way to enhance your film. It is uncomfortable surrendering that direct control, but if you trust your DP/camera operator’s abilities, then it’s the best course of action. Also get yourself an external monitor so you can watch the shot in real time and in detail. I have often missed mistakes while shooting and looking at the tiny FS5 screen. It’s tough: you’re focusing on keeping people in frame, where to put your feet if there’s movement, maintaining good composition, etc. Let the camera operator do the physical work so you can impartially observe.

Make Everyone on Camera Sign a Release Form

Your work is probably going on the internet and if it happens to gain some traction, you want to make sure the original cut stays in tact. If you don’t get someone to sign a release, then you legally have to obey their wishes about where the film appears. People’s attitudes can change so it is always good to get a signature at the time of the shoot. This is especially important if you are making a documentary. People might get cold feet because they don’t like the way you decide to portray them or they are afraid of saying something publicly. When someone agrees to be in your film, get their signature right then and there.

Now sadly, there is a downside to all of these tips. All of them require more effort, forethought, and time. You can make a film without obeying any of these rules, but I promise you, your films will be worse if you don’t. I also won’t lie and tell you that I haven’t strategically broken these rules when under a time crunch. Life here at Middlebury is busy. You might not be able to all these things for your film, but it is important to know how you can do better and keep trying to do more.

Handy Effects in Premiere

Premiere Pro is a daunting program at first, there’s no two ways about it. Just looking at the number of buttons, switches, and sliders made my head spin when I first started using the program. Many beginners quickly pick up the basics of cutting but often avoid the Effects panel altogether because it is full of complex-sounding names for tools. While many of these effects are highly situational, there are some that are extremely multifaceted and I would recommend all beginners learn to help bump up the overall quality of their videos.

Audio Transitions–>Crossfade–>Exponential Fade

This is a small detail that is so simple, but goes so far. If you drag and drop this onto to conjoining clips, the sound of the first one will gradually fade out while the sound of the second one fades in. This may sound really simple and a little unnecessary, but you will quickly learn that all locations have a unique room tone. What this means is that when you switch back and forth between scenes or dialogue shot under different conditions, your cuts will be extremely jarring. Even if no sound is actively being created in the two environments you are switching between, viewers will consciously and unconsciously pick up on the change. Adding in Exponential Fade makes this transition less harsh.

Audio Effects–>Filter and EQ–>Parametric Equalizer

Parametric Equalizer is a great tool to bring out your actors’ or subjects’ voice in a noisy environment. There is a preset that heightens sound within the sonic range that the human voice is within and reduces all other sound. This is great if you forgot to unplug a refrigerator onset that left a low-grade noise throughout the entirety of your clips. It’s also just a great tool to use regularly even when you don’t have a noisy background since it creates crisp and clear dialogue. To use it simply drag and drop Parametric Equalizer onto your clip, go to the effects panel, find Parametric Equalizer, click “Edit” under “Bypass”, click on the dropdown menu that reads “Default” on the pop up window, and select “Vocal Enhancer”. Note that you can also manually fool around with the vocal range to achieve even clearer dialogue. It’s not as complicated as you might think, but you will still want to watch a tutorial like the one below before attempting it on your own.

Video Effects–>Distort–>Warp Stabilizer

Your professor has probably told you to not rely on fixing things in the edit, and they are right. Do things to the best of your ability onset. However, if time or resources are limited and you walk away with a shakier shot than you had planned, do not panic. Warp Stabilizer smooths out the shakiness in your shots, but the trade off is that it crops the shot by a few dozen pixels on all sides. This allows Premiere Pro to move the shot digitally to counter your own movements, creating a smooth shot. You can even change just how much you stabilize the shot by moving the “Smoothness” slider under Warp Stabilizer in the effects panel. This effect does work with pans, tilts, and some movement, but can get incredibly janky with more complex movements. If you try to use Warp Stabilizer on some footage that looks like it could have been in the Blair Witch Project, then Premiere Pro will spit you out a pile of hot garbage.

Video Effects–>Blur&Sharpen–>Gaussian Blur

This combined with the pen tool is a great way to blur out faces and objects. If you were shooting on a location and realized you accidentally got the sign of a gas station in the background then Gaussian Blur is a great way to blur that sign out. This is especially handy for anyone here looking to do documentaries.

There are tons of other effects out there than can and hopefully will be of help to many of you in the future, but if you are starting out these are some good effects to master early on.

Creating Your Perfect Run&Gun Rig for Documentary Filmmaking

Recently I’ve come across this issue where I am going out to shoot b-roll for a documentary and once I’m out on location I realize my shoot would have been much better if I just had one piece of equipment. It’s tough because I have this aversion to taking much with me since I want to keep my rig highly portable, but oftentimes I find myself needing more than I brought. So with that in mind here is a rundown on the equipment available in the FMMC production hub that I recommend you consider next time you are shooting a documentary.

The most important decision to make with your rig is your camera choice. The type of camera you have will inform what other equipment is compatible with your rig and will start to parse down the amount of choices you need to make. The go to choice for me is the Sony FS5. It is kind of the standard for FMMC and with good reason: it’s light and versatile but high quality. The only thing in the production hub significantly better than the FS5 is the FS7, but it’s significantly heavier weight makes it unwieldy. Additionally, if you have a personal compact SLR that shoots in 4K, it might be worth choosing that over the FS5. The FS5 is light, clocking in at just under ten pounds in weight, but after a full day of shooting, ten pounds can feel like a lot.

The next big decision to be made is what lenses to use and my advice for this is less clear cut. It depends on the circumstances on your shoot and what tradeoffs you are willing to make. You may balk at the factory lens on the FS5 and say you want something more “artistic”, but these factory lens work well in a variety of situations. Additionally, you will not have autofocus or image stabilization if you use non-Sony lenses. Ideally you do not want to use autofocus, but some circumstances in your doc may make movement so fast paced that autofocus is necessary. Image stabilization is a great feature that will help steady the shot in camera and reduce the natural wobble you get on a shoulder mount in many shots. Additionally you need to ask yourself whether or not you want a Zoom lens. Are there circumstances in which you might be far away from your subject? The Fujinon MKs are a good option if that is the case, but beware their size makes them cumbersome in tight interiors. If you do choose to shoot with prime lens, you may get a “cleaner” shot but you will also have to move more to get your desired framing. If you do want to use prime lens I would recommend either the Zeiss Loxias for the best look and the Rokinons for versatility. In most circumstances, I would advise using a zoom lens, especially if you are not a seasoned camera operator.

When thinking about microphones it is highly important to think about expected conditions. Remember that the FS5 has four audio tracks. If you wanted to clip a lavalier microphone to your subject’s lapel, run with a second mic on your rig, and have a boom if you’re lucky enough to have some crew you can do that. My best luck has come with the Sony UWP-D11. For your on-board mic, you will want to decide between a shotgun mic or a hyper-cardioid. Shotguns mics have a much smaller range in which audio is clearly picked up, whereas hyper-cardioid can pick up sound even in the opposite direction that you have the mic facing. If you want to capture all the noises in a given environment to enhance your setting, use a hyper-cardioid mic. If you want to limit sound pollution and hear your subject better, a shotgun mic will help. For hyper-cardioid, I recommend the Audio Technica and for shotgun mics, I recommend the Sennheiser MKH60.

Now that we’ve got the big decisions out of the way, it’s time to dive into the little things that will improve your shoot and are compatible with most camera/lens combinations. The first and most important thing you should obtain is a rain cover. If you think there’s going to be even the slightest chance of rain, get a cover. Although not listed on the production hub website, the gear room has rain covers for the FS5. Another highly individual component of this rig is how you hope to carry it. Handheld is possible with the FS5 or an SLR, but if you use a RedRock shoulder mount, you’ll get a much more stable shot. You could theoretically pair a gimbel with a steadicam arm for an extremely stable shot, but I would caution against it since it does limit your speed/mobility. The steadicam arm will also make you pretty visible and subjects may become self conscious of themselves. If you are shooting in dark conditions and would like the grainy image quality that comes with a higher ISO, you can screw either the Litepanels Micro or MicroPro onto most rigs. Be careful though since this will create flat head-on lighting that is not flattering to your subject. If you have your subject address the camera at any point, it might be wise to add a red sticker just above your lens. I find that subjects tend to struggle with looking into the lens and providing a clear point helps them focus.

In general, I would recommend you getting creative with your rig as long as it does not hinder its performance or risk damaging the equipment. Talk to myself, other TAs, Ethan, and Fayza about other resources the department has to help you make your best rig. There are some items not listed on the production hub and it’s always worth asking.

Film Festivals Available to Undergraduate Students

This past summer I had the pleasure of working for the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival here in Middlebury. In talking to my coworkers I learned about the festival industry and was quite surprised by how much there was that I did not know. I thought of festivals as these extraordinarily elite institutions that I could only ever get into if I had a film with an absurdly high budget. However the truth is that there are film festivals out there for films made on every budget and some specifically geared towards first time filmmakers as well as students. Having been in the film department for four years now, I can confidently say that I have seen dozens of festival-worthy student films that were never submitted anywhere. Winning entry into these festivals won’t win you a chance at stardom or suddenly lay out a path towards lucrative careers in production, but it will allow you to get your work out there. So with that in mind here are a few highly regarded film festivals with cheap entry fees and an eye for young talent.

Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival

No this is not sponsored content. Like I said above, I did work here this past summer, but the festival is genuinely accessible for Middlebury students. The festival coordinators have a close connection with the college and appreciate the talent that the FMMC department can produce. In fact this past year, Matteo Moretti ’21, won an award for his senior thesis Just Being Here. The festival focuses exclusively on first and second time filmmakers, so you can be assured that you will feel at home. Short submissions sent in before the regular deadline cost $35. The festival also almost always takes place the weekend before move-in at the college, so your chances of being able to attend are quite high.

Trinity Film Festival

Hosted by our fellow NESCAC, Trinity College, Trinity Film Festival is a showcase made exclusively for undergraduates and graduates. The festival is going into its 11th year and has received glowing reviews from young filmmakers. The application fee is not easily available since the fest has not begun to accept its next round of applicants, but considering they exclusively accept college students, I cannot imagine it is ludicrously high.

Reality Bytes

Reality Bytes is an independent student film festival sponsored by Northern Illinois University’s Department of Communication. The festival offers cash prizes with each major reward and has an entrance fee of only $25. Your entry must be under 30 minutes in length and have been made in the past year.

Ivy Film Festival

The Ivy Film Festival is going into its 21st year, making it the oldest entirely student run film festival. The festival also uses Brown’s connections to draw star-studded speakers as well as industry professionals. Winners are provided accommodations on Brown’s campus, making attending the festival pretty feasible. Entry fees are as low as $10 if done before the early bird deadline.

Rhode Island International Film Festival

Now this one is a little more prestigious. Rhode Island International Film Festival is an Oscar Qualifying, BAFTA Qualifying, and Canadian Screen Award Qualifying Festival. You might think this is a little too extravagant for your, but the festival actually has a student submission process and student pricing ($40). That’s not to say that this is an easy festival to get into, but they are actively on the hunt for student talent. As someone who grew up in the Rhode Island area, I can also tell you that the event is extremely well attended. Even if you open in an early morning slot you will likely still have a sizable crowd.

There are dozens of other festivals I debated putting on this list, but I believe this is a good starting place. I tried my best to limit the range geographically to what is close to Middlebury, but there are tons of other festivals closer to where you may live. All of the festivals listed above and the vast majority of professional festivals use FilmFreeway, a free submission that allows you to search for and submit to a variety of festivals. Have a look and use the advanced search preference to see what festivals meet your criteria. Festivals provide an avenue for young filmmakers to gain recognition for the hard work they’ve put in, earn money towards their next films, and make meaningful connections in the industry that can help their careers later. It’s not a path often talked about amongst film majors here, but it is absolutely one worth exploring.