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Hollywood on the Hillsborough

Published: February 08, 2007

By Robin Roger
Web Writer

Although Oscar night just ended, University of Tampa's student movie-makers did not take home any gold statuettes, at least not yet.

Instead, more than 240 Spartans had their own awards competition at the end of Campus MovieFest, where they vied for the chance to win $10,000 and gain national exposure.

Campus MovieFest, which bills itself as the world’s largest student film festival, involves 50,000 students on college campuses in Atlanta, Boston, Florida, California and Scotland. Sixty teams of four to seven members registered online for the event at UT. Each team had a week to create a five-minute masterpiece that could win iPods, laptops or cash prizes.

“I’m psyched,” said junior Christian Perkins, who majors in film, said as he picked up his equipment. “I like directing and cinematography, and now with the new technology anybody can do it.”

After students dropped off their finished products, a panel made up of faculty and staff judged the movies on Feb. 19. They debuted on the big screen Feb. 22 in the Vaughn courtyard. Hundreds of students filled the lawn, watching their peers' work, while eating popcorn and cotton candy.

Best picture went to "Dead End," directed by Daniel Mastronardo. Mastronardo also led the team that re-created "Rocky," winner of the Turner Classic Movies Award. The winner of TBS's "Very Funny" Award was "Discover Fresh Breath."

UT's Best Comedy award went to "Guitars & Caffeine," by Caroline Thomas and Elizabeth Rheaume. "The Follower" was named UT's best drama. Jacob Bess and Chris Catanach led the team that created the short.

The top 16 films to come out of the UT competition will go up against films from Rollins College, the University of Central Florida and Jacksonville University in a regional competition. Winners from that pool will go on to the international competition, where they can win awards like the TBS “Very Funny” award, which comes with the $10,000 grand prize.

Last year a movie created by UT students, A Burden’s Ballad, was chosen as one of the best in the country, according to the official Web site

“Hopefully it has given students some pride,” said Brandon Chong, assistant director of Vaughn Center and Student Event Services. “It builds community and teaches valuable skills like group dynamics and teamwork. And it introduces students to new technology.”

After registering for free, students received Apple laptops with movie-editing software and a hand-held video camera to use for the week. Representatives from Campus MovieFest were in Vaughn 221 to answer students’ questions.

Junior Chris Favaloro planned on making a film about a husband and wife torn apart by an affair. His team’s movie from last year, The Story Between Us, won Best Drama last year in the UT competition. The management information systems major does not want to pursue a career in filmmaking, but he said the event has taught him valuable skills.

“It’s very challenging, especially in terms of time management,” he said. “And it’s hard to motivate people when you’re not guaranteed an award.”

The top movies from UT will appear during the Gasparilla Film Festival the week of Feb. 28. One winner at the national level will appear on Turner Classic Movies.