Truman welcomes film festival

Submitted photo

For the first time ever, Truman State University will be hosting a film festival. This was made possible by the students in Truman Short Film Fest, a class created by Jocelyn Cullity, English professor and film studies minor committee chair.  

Cullity created this class to teach students how to establish and run a film festival. With 20 students, they have spent the semester laying the groundwork, including event-planning, promotional work and crowdfunding.

Creating a film festival has been in the works for years, even while Cullity was in the process of being hired as a Truman professor. She was asked if she could create a film festival that used Baldwin Hall’s newly renovated Little Theater. She agreed, and the film festival is finally going to happen this spring.

“I am thrilled to offer the Truman Short Film Fest classes to get our new film festival up and running in 2019,” Cullity said.

Truman Short Film Fest is a fall 2018 topics course focused on building the film festival from the ground up. At the beginning of the semester, the class analyzed models of other film festivals, and they wrote a mission statement and submission requirements. Cullity then split the class into different groups where they worked on different tasks such as fundraising, building a website and designing posters, Cullity said.

The promotional team, one of the groups in the class, is where students handle social media on behalf of the festival. Junior Ben Schmidt, one of the promotional group members, said he is learning a lot of marketing skills. From this class, he learned the best people to contact to get the word out, such as those in charge of tourism in Kirksville as well as heads of departments who can tell their students about the film festival.

The Truman State University Film Festival ran a crowdfunding campaign and raised over $1,000. The rest of the semester will be spent raising more money and awareness for the film festival. He said it is exciting to be a part of this because people don’t have to travel to Columbia, Kansas City or St. Louis to see a film festival; they can finally see one right in Kirksville.

“This is not just a film fest,” Schmidt said. “We are doing this in honor of Vincent Price, who was well-known in Kirksville during his time, and he was well-known in the film industry. We want to pass on his passion and celebrate it among undergrads.”

Senior Kimberly O’Loughlin is also a student in Truman Short Film Fest and recently tabled for the event. She said she is happy to see people excited for the film festival, and she looks forward to watching the submissions. She said next semester, they will try to get family and friends to come and support the festival.

“It’s local, affordable and free, and we all just get to be there and enjoy everything,” O’Loughlin said. “We’re trying to make this as big a film fest as we can.”

Part 2 of Truman Short Film Fest will be offered in the spring. Cullity said all the components that the fall semester created, including organizing and coordinating two receptions, ordering a red carpet, and selling T-shirts, will be used in the spring class.

“Our main focus in the spring film festival class will be to learn how to judge and select short films submitted to the festival,” Cullity said. “And the selected films will go on to compete at the festival.”

Four film industry judges will be at the festival and will select the best films in categories including horror, comedy, drama, documentary and experimental. The highest prize is the Vincent Price People’s Choice Award, which carries a cash prize of $500. Victoria Price, Vincent Price’s daughter, will be at the festival to present the award.

Submissions for the film festival are open for any undergraduate student from any school in the country. Each film must be under 10 minutes. Filmmakers are encouraged to submit their projects via the Truman State University Film Festival website. Schmidt said they are currently accepting early bird submissions that cost $5 until March 15, 2019. Regular submissions, costing $10, will end April 1. Late submissions will be $15, which end April 14.

“We hope to showcase Truman talent alongside other talents in our country,” Cullity said. “We are ready for your films.”

The Truman State University Film Festival will be at 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27, 2019. There will be receptions Friday and Saturday nights. The film festival will be free and open to the public.