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Ambitious filmmakers punch their tickets to national festival

To snooze or not to snooze? That is but one of the questions facing the fickle protagonist in Rob Taylor’s short film No Chance, for which he drew inspiration from his indecisive nature.

“I over-think every decision,” said Taylor, a fourth-year communication studies major. “My friends say I shouldn’t think so hard because I can’t predict the outcome of everything.”

Taylor certainly did not predict that a panel of Northeastern students, faculty, and staff would select his film as the university’s best picture in the 12th annual Campus MovieFest, the world’s largest student film festival and the premier outlet for the next generation of auteurs. Since its inception in 2001, more than 500,000 students at colleges and universities around the world have participated.

The contest challenges aspiring filmmakers to make a five-minute movie in one week using free microphones, Panasonic camcorders, and Apple laptops with high-quality editing software. More than 100 Northeastern teams submitted their shorts on March 19 and the top 16 were screened on campus the following week.

Northeastern’s top three films, for best overall picture, drama, and comedy, and those from dozens of other participating schools, will be screened in June in Hollywood by a secret panel of industry insiders. Prizes for the Hollywood winners include $30,000 in cash, a one-year subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, and industry exposure at the Cannes International Film Festival in May.

No Chance will face some steep competition from the other two Northeastern films to make it to Tinseltown: Flint, in which a young couple on different schedules bonds by sending sweet nothings to each other via a miniature stuffed lion, and Library: A Quiet Film, in which a young man silently woos his crush like a modern-day Charlie Chaplin.

“I’ve always wanted to do classic sight gags,” said Library star Gordon Freas, a second-year communication studies major. “The biggest challenge was telling a story without any dialogue.”

Editing the raw footage into a coherent film took longer than expected. “I decided to do all the editing in one night, which was a terrible decision,” Freas joked, “but it was worth it.”

Elena Guy, the writer, editor, and director of Flint, drew inspiration from her relationship with her roommate, whom she seldom sees. “I wanted to tell a story about a couple that stays close without ever seeing each other,” she explained. The protagonist, she added, “knows that their system of passing notes is not a long-term solution, but they love each other enough to continue sending them.”

Guy, Taylor, and Freas plan on traveling to Hollywood to network with industry insiders and watch their films on the big screen.

“Making films is something I have an interest in doing long-term,” said Taylor, the vice-president of NUTV and producer for the TV show Candlepin For Kids. “The field is based much more on connections than degrees.”

“I’m interested in meeting professional filmmakers and asking them about breaking into the industry,” added Guy, whose career goal is to become a screenwriter and director. She has high hopes for Flint, but said, “If people enjoy it, then I have reached my goal.”