BYU’s Student Film Association hosts annual Final Cut Film Festival


BYU has many talents and many ways to showcase it. For students whose passion is film, the Final Cut Film Festival is an opportunity to show their works and be recognized.

The BYU Student Film Association (SFA) is bringing its annual Final Cut Film Festival to BYU on April 12 and 13. The SFA, which has been around since 1992, celebrates achievements in original filmmaking among BYU students.

Kyle Stapley, SFA faculty advisor and Media Arts program coordinator, is one of the executive producers of the film festival.

“This year, the festival got 125 submissions from students; so far it’s the most that we’ve received,” Stapley said. “There were so many great, high-quality works, it was hard to choose.”

Lane Russell's film "Driven" tells a story of a man who was a motocross racer until he became paralyzed. (Courtesy Lane  Russell)
Lane Russell’s film “Driven” tells a story of a man who was a motocross racer until he became paralyzed. (Courtesy Lane Russell)

The judges that comprise the SFA and some faculty from the Theater and Media Arts department chose thirty films that will be screened this weekend. Films vary in length but are usually between three and seven minutes.

The profit from the ticket sales will go back to the Final Cut Film Festival for its future production and organization.

The winner of the festival will be announced Saturday night, with the help of the three special judges — former BYU students who became professionals in the film industry. Awards include Best Commercial, Best Fiction, Best Non-Fiction, Best of Fest and an Audience Choice award.

“A lot of people, when they think of student-made films, they think low-budget YouTube-type of videos, but if they come to the festival they will see that it’s a high-quality entertainment,” Stapley said. “We have some talent here on campus.”

Lane Russell is a BYU student majoring in film and is one the few people whose works were chosen. Four films he directed will be screened during the festival: two short films — “Driven” and “Chronicle of a Country” — and two commercials.

“‘Driven’ is a documentary about a young man who was a professional motocross racer until he became paralyzed from the waist down,” Russell said. “Our film is an inspiring story about how he has taught himself to walk and ride motorcycles again in spite of his injury. It is meant to help uplift the audience and inspire hope and determination. I came up with the idea for this film because I attended high school with the young man, and I felt like his story was capable of inspiring others.”

“Chronicle of a Country” was filmed in France and shows people who explain the most significant moments of their lives. Russell said the film is meant to help his audience reflect on their own lives.

Feelings, trials and triumphs of Russell’s life, as well as important people and events of his life, served as an inspiration for his films. Russell said passion is not the only thing required for filmmaking, and it takes lots of dedication and hard work to produce even a three-minute film.

“One of the biggest challenges about making movies is that it takes a lot of time, effort and dedication,” Russell said. “That may seem obvious, but I don’t think people understand just how intense filmmaking is. … A ‘simple’ three-minute video often requires more than 20 hours of filming, and at least another 20 in order to edit the video. Not to mention another 20–30 hours put in before the filming ever takes place. That means that 60 hours of work is required from many different people in order to create a simple three-minute film.”

Liz Dicou, a BYU elementary education major, will attend the festival for the first time.

“I think this is such a fun idea because these film students have serious talent and deserve to showcase it,” Dicou said. “It is a great way to show off their talents in an exciting way. I also like that there is an award ceremony so the best ones get recognized.”

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