Five minutes of fame

By Kristin Lusis

An American boy and a French girl get tangled up in bed sheets. They soon fall in love in a swept-away international romance. But tragedy befalls the young couple, as the girl’s nightmare of her boyfriend dying in a plane crash becomes reality. Then the screen goes dark and the end credits roll.

No, this isn’t the plot for the latest box office hit. The storyline is from the student film, “Departure,” the Best Picture winner at the annual Campus MovieFest Awards held in the Curry Student Center Ballroom last night.

Campus MovieFest is a nationwide student filmmaking competition that gives students a camcorder, an Apple laptop, some training and one week to create a film no longer than five minutes. It started six years ago in a student’s residence hall at Emory University in Georgia, said Megan Solomon, the Campus MovieFest spokesperson.

Today, the annual competition is the country’s largest student film festival.

Northeastern’s finale was co-hosted by Christine Fitzpatrick, a sophomore communications major, and Jonathan Bragg, a junior communications and cinema studies major. Campus MovieFest narrowed down the 73 total entries to the top 16 films that were shown last night.

Award categories included the Turner Classic Movie Short Film Award, which challenges teams to re-imagine elements from classic films like “Gone With The Wind;” the TBS Very Funny Award, which was given to the night’s funniest movie; and the Audience Choice Award where students voted via text messaging for their favorite movie.

The “Very Funny” award was given to “Robot,” a film that used clips from the Jan. 31 Boston bomb scare as a result of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force mooninites.

While filming five-minute movies may appear easy, many students faced some difficulties.

The students behind “Departure” faced one important problem during filming – working in different time zones. Doug Quill, a middler communications major, worked with his brother Mike Quill, a middler philosophy and communications major, to film “Departure.” Mike Quill was studying abroad in Australia during the filming, which allowed for two sides of the film. Half was filmed in Boston and half in Australia.

“The biggest challenge was coagulating with my brother all while working under a strict time constraint,” Doug Quill said.

Modern communication aided the Quill brothers.

“A lot of hours were spent on the computer. We virtually had to do everything over the Internet,” Doug Quill said.

“Departure” will compete against other Best Picture winners from Emerson College, Tufts University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston College and Boston University in a Boston-wide competition at the Colonial Theatre April 21.

Last year’s Best Picture winner, “Tangent,” was created by a team who calls themselves “Enginerds++” and comprises junior engineering majors Jonathan Cohn, Mike Maker and Michael Doran, along with junior journalism major Meghan Colloton.

“Engineers can be filmmakers too,” Cohn said.

This year, Cohn and his team created a horror flick called “Preview” about a relationship that turns sour when a college student discovers his girlfriend is cheating on him with his friend, then kills him in revenge. The twist is the college student watches his friend’s death first on a Youtube video, then runs through the city seeing scenes that were in the short film, and eventually kills his friend for being with his girlfriend.

The Enginerds++ were second finalist for the Turner Classic Movies Classic Short Film award. “Departure” was the first finalist.

Students said there were some obstacles to overcome while filming.

“The weather is a big factor. If it rains one day, you have to make sure that it rains again on the next day you film,” Cohn said.

Colloton agreed that searching for the right backdrop was difficult.

“We couldn’t just film in a dorm room because it looks like a dorm room, so we actually had to get a room at the Motel 6,” she said.

However, the movie-making process is a learning experience. “We learned from last year that we needed to plan ahead,” Cohn said.

Students at the awards each had their favorite movie.

“I liked ‘Departure’ because of how it depicted a dream world,” said Dyan LeBourdais, a sophomore journalism major.

Fitzpatrick said she had many favorites.

“Aesthetically my favorite was ‘Departure,’ but I also have to give a shout out to ‘Biohazard’ for having the best concept and storyline. ‘Karma’ also did an amazing job, considering they only used what we gave them for equipment and no extras. A lot of the other groups used some of their own, more advanced equipment.”

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