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The Milton Measure

Milton Hosts Annual Film Festival

by on Friday, May 19th, 2017

The smell of popcorn and the sounds of cheerful voices echo off the walls as students enter Wigg Hall, where this year’s Milton Academy Film Festival is being held. The gathering, while far from shining in national acclaim, is certainly a warm welcome to Milton’s own film students and enthusiasts alike after a semester’s worth of hard work.

The Milton Academy Film Festival is a long-running tradition for the film department and a chance for Milton students of all film classes, both the introductory and advanced courses, along with Milton Academy’s very first, two-year young Filmmaking Club, to show off their films, trailers, and other independent short pieces. The show kicks off at seven o’clock on a Friday night, the perfect hour for munching on popcorn in that low-light, filmesque atmosphere.

“The runtime is approximately an hour,” announced Mr. Fuller at the start of the festival. As the projector fires up, the night gives way to loud laughter and stifled giggling—not necessarily because the works are roll-on-the-floor funny, but because of the inevitable comedic slipups that occur in independent filmmaking. Some of the more advanced students catch themselves giggling at the bleached-looking overexposure that gives the shots a heaven-like appearance, adding a humorous edge to what could be a quite serious scene.

The festival, while undoubtedly a fun and exciting experience, makes us question the strength and quality of our film department here at Milton; and in light of the fact that Mr. Fuller teaches only a few film classes (roughly two intro classes and one advanced), we as students might begin to wonder: What is there to film here at Milton?

To all young aspiring filmmakers or those who are simply interested in film at Milton, here is the naked truth: The school’s film courses have been—like certain others—rumored to be notorious “hack” courses–classes which are either uneventful, unproductive, or plain easy. As someone who has gone through one of the courses, I attest confidently and with an open opinion: Sometimes, not terribly exciting.

But that isn’t to say that nothing happens, because every film student will remember the countless “shot collections” that Mr. Fuller, the head of the film department and currently the only film teacher, assigned on a per-class basis. In fact, students learn quite a lot, ranging from basic to advanced concepts—from story construction and shot choice, to character development and camera technique. The young directors try it all: personal narratives, documentary-like shorts, mini-horrors, and trailers too.

Many forget that Scorsese, Tarantino, and Nolan all had to start from somewhere to get to where they are today. Indeed, film class at Milton is a place where young filmmakers can gather some basic knowledge and skills, upon which they can improve and develop to become more seasoned, and perhaps even celebrated, young filmmakers.

And just recently, one student took it into his own hands to truly breathe some life into the film community here at Milton. George Luo (II), along with some friends, decided to start Milton Academy’s first official filmmaking club in early 2016—a fine club which meets Thursdays in the Black Box Theater, and which I’m proud to have helped found. Those who have stuck with us since the beginning will remember just how hard it was to make a film and will know just how many times we had to fail in order to release a successful short here on campus. It was only after the unreleased Butterfly Effect that we could make the short horror Drunk and, recently, the drama Under the Wound.

And I guess that’s what I’d call the climax, the end moral of our school’s film narrative: film is just plain hard. It’s the reason we clap at the end of amateur, even unfinished, pieces; the reason why we give our director friends a pat on the back; the reason why we go to the Film Festival, and, best of all: the reason why we make films in the first place. Capturing life in its cinematographic essence is, above all, an art, and one of the more difficult arts to say the least. When noticing that poster for the annual Film Festival, you might want to give it a second thought: that silly, intro-course film may very well be the first for the next Oscar-winning director.

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Posted by on May 19 2017. Filed under More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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