Students partner with University Film Organization and BG Reel to create films of their own

Pulse Reporter and Pulse Reporter

For film students like Ethan Roberts and Michael Stafford, their passion for their craft extends outside of the classroom.

Stafford, a junior and Roberts, a senior, use their involvement in the University Film Organization and BG Reel to establish connections with other film students and seek collaborative assistance on film projects that they make outside of the classroom.

“Those are places that are good to find members to help your vision come true,” Roberts said.

Roberts has been involved with both organizations since he was a freshman and served as treasurer of UFO last year.

Stafford got involved after he learned about the organizations at Campus Fest this past year and this year he’s serving as the treasurer of BG Reel.

UFO, which discusses film, and BG Reel, which facilitates creating a film by providing equipment, provide a network for those interested in watching and making films, Stafford said. It allows for members to talk about movies and pitch project ideas.

“That’s what our organization’s all about is to get involved whether students want to get in front of a camera or behind a camera,” Stafford said. “It doesn’t really matter if you’re a film major or not. If you’re interested in movies, you can get involved with the group.”

Daniel Williams, a professor in the Theatre and Film department, sees BG Reel and UFO as a good way to meet collaborative partners. This can be especially useful for non-film majors who might have difficulty making connections with film students, he said.

“What we see is a lot of these students work together,” Williams said. “If it’s successful, they’ll continue to collaborate.”

Roberts said he’ll take on any role for a film, whether it be director, writer or producer.

“I’m a really big proponent of film as a collaborative effort,” he said.

Roberts, who likes to make drama films, is currently shooting his honors project that entails the help of people he met through UFO and BG Reel.

The film project, called “Fish Tank,” is the final project for his senior year as an honor student. While he does get credits for it, it is not associated with any class.

“‘Fish Tank’ is kind of a coming-of-age story,” Roberts said.

It involves two students from different cliques who meet and become friends, he said.

Stafford, who mainly serves as a writer and director for his projects, plans on making two or three short films this year.

“Most of the films that I’ve so far made are action-like films,” he said.

Stafford’s current project is called “The Astonisher,” which is about a crime ward hiring a villain to take down the hero of a previous film he made.

Stafford described making a film like putting a puzzle together. “Every piece serves a purpose and putting those pieces together makes a masterpiece,” he said.

Professors in the Theatre and Film Department, such as Williams, are also willing to help students who seek assisstance with their own projects.

“It really comes down to individual students,” Williams said. “It’s who you’re comfortable sharing ideas with.”

Williams is willing to help students by giving them feedback on their work or helping them find resources, such as students to collaborate with or equipment they can use.

“Students will ask about the casting process and resources they can use to get their information out to the BG community,” he said.

One such student who sought Williams’ help was Roberts himself.

Williams is serving as an adviser for Roberts’ honor project, “Fish Tank.” “He’s been able to give me a lot of personal insight coming from his experience as an independent filmmaker,” Roberts said.

Williams has helped with the whole process, from casting to the techniques for shooting the film, Roberts said.

“Any student that comes to me seeking guidance, information or assistance, I will help them however I can,” Wiliams said. Williams said many of these final projects end up at the film and media festival in the spring.

“A lot of students are very ambitious and very proactive and very creative,” he said. “Filmmakers are very resourceful.”

Stafford said he hopes to take his experience in and outside of the classroom and apply it to his career.

“By the time I graduate, I hope to acquire all the knowledge I need to work in the film industry.” Roberts said outside class experience has really been important to his undergraduate education.

“The more I do, the more I learn about what I like and don’t like,” he said.

Roberts had some advice for those interested in film production.

“If you have an idea of what you want to do, you need to get involved in outside projects,” he said.