Mount St. Joseph University

Mount Launches Film Festival for High Schoolers

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Ryan Korengel

The Mount’s Department of Communication and New Media Studies will hold an event that is unlike anything Mount St. Joseph University has ever hosted before on Tuesday, April 18.  The first New Media Film Festival will expose local high school students to digital media by giving them the opportunity to submit a film for cash prizes.
I recently discussed the New Media Film Festival with Dr.  Robert Bodle, Associate Professor of Communication and New Media Studies, and Dr. Lisa Crews, Department Chair.  Bodle has a great deal of expertise in film, having earned a Ph.D. in Critical Studies from the University of Southern California and a Master’s Degree in Film Studies and Interdisciplinary Humanities at Arizona State University. Crews also has a background in film, with a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from Ohio University and a Master’s Degree in Mass Communication from the University of Denver.

Crews told me that all local high schools have been contacted regarding the New Media Film Festival – specifically targeting the schools that have a designated instructor for media or communication.  Bodle outlined the three categories of film in the festival: Documentary and Social Change, Short Narrative, and Experimental, with each video lasting one to seven minutes.  While many people may not be familiar with the Documentary and Social Change category, Bodle explained, “For well over a century, non-fiction film documentary has had the transformative potential for social change.”
He described the Short Narrative category as “situation-driven or character-driven stories that include a life-changing event, an obstacle/antagonist, and a goal.  You should always try to tell a compelling story. Short narrative films must engage your audience emotionally.”
Experimental Films, according to Bodle, are “concept-driven films that challenge the conventions of both the documentary and narrative modes of filmmaking, and offer alternative methods of filmmaking.”

The inspirations for this event at the Mount are The Golden Lion Awards, Cannes, the Sundance Film Festival (and) the 48 Hour Film Festival,” he said. He went on to tell me that “we hope to engender community around digital media production, bringing together students from the Mount with local high school students, and the broader Mount St. Joseph Community.” Each movie will be judged by Communication and New Media Studies students, alumni, and faculty based on content, technical excellence, and overall quality, among other factors.  There are three prizes per category, nine prizes total. The winner gets $100 and the runners-up get $50. Film submissions were due March 17, with the films being judged the week after, and notifications sent the following week. According to Bodle, students who participate in this event will also partake in an awards ceremony, red carpet event, reception with live music, screening with filmmaker(s) and Q&As.

As a current Communication and New Media Studies major, I can attest to the fact that selecting this major is one of my best decisions I have ever made – a decision that I didn’t make until the second semester of my freshman year of college.  At a school that is known for an incredible nursing program and other respected healthcare-related majors, Communication and New Media Studies is often overlooked, but this major is entirely unique to the Mount.  This major changes the way students think about digital media and other forms of new media.  This critical view of the media is essential to the growth of a student as we must continue to build the necessary skills to adapt to the constantly changing digital world.  Therefore, I view the first New Media Film Festival as a significant step for the major as a whole, since it will expose our major to high school students and show them what we are all about.   If the New Media Film Festival had been offered three years ago, I’m sure I would have participated and who knows?  Perhaps I would have even declared the major a semester earlier.