Lights, camera, action! Rough Cut to screen student films


An open mic night for student films is scheduled at the Nelke Theater in the Harris Fine Arts Center Oct. 17, and all students are welcome to submit a film or attend the free event, which begins at 7 p.m.

BYU film majors prepare for the 2014 Rough Cut festival. The event is much like an open mic night for student films. (BYU Media Arts)
BYU film majors prepare for the 2014 Rough Cut festival. The event is much like an open mic night for student films. (BYU Media Arts)

The “younger brother” of the larger Final Cut Film Festival, Rough Cut is an opportunity for BYU students to show their work to a large audience. Unlike Final Cut, which has a stricter selection committee and criteria, Rough Cut essentially allows any film to be submitted and shown.

Submissions for Rough Cut began Oct. 1 and are accepted on a first-come first-served basis. Rough Cut only shows films that uphold Honor Code standards as well as the Theater and Media Arts Department’s viewing guidelines. In addition, only two works are allowed per submitter, and submitted films need to be seven minutes or less to allow fair screening time for everyone. Films will be accepted until the two-hour time slot is filled.

“We call it Rough Cut because it gives people a chance to put their work in front of a larger audience so that they can refine it better,” said Kyle Stapley, one of the faculty organizers of the event.

In the film industry, preliminary test screenings are critical to the success of a production. They allow filmmakers to get critical feedback from an audience before officially releasing their work.

“That response is always super useful,” said Dallin Cheung, a junior studying animation. “We usually lose our audience in a place or two during the presentation of the story because we’ve grown so acquainted with the story so we cannot see what important story point we’re jumping over.”

Students can spend between several weeks and more than a year to finish a work. Many submissions are produced over the summer, when students have more free time and shooting conditions are better. There are typically many genres of submissions, such as documentary and fiction. While some works are lighthearted and humorous, others deal with more complex, serious themes.

One film from the previous Final Cut Film Festival, “Ghosts on the Mountain,” focuses on the lives of migrant workers, often illegal immigrants, who work in Utah and Arizona. The film deals with issues such as illegal workers, human rights and migrant workers. It recently won an award at the Heartland Film Festival, a top-tier festival, in a non-student category.

Another example is an animated piece, called “Bothered,” which was well received by BYU students.

“Usually, BYU animated pieces are very happy, very Pixar or Dreamworks-type,” Stapley said. “This one was all about the visualization of anxiety, and it was darker and, in some ways, a little scarier than what you’d expect from a BYU animated piece, and it played really, really well at Final Cut.”

Rough Cut is sponsored by the BYU Student Film Association in coordination with the Theater and Media Arts Department. More information and updates on Rough Cut can be found on its Facebook page.

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