Photo by Bryan Garrett

Photo by Bryan Garrett

By Allison Antram, Staff Writer

Among formal dances, Legacy Games and a variety of other activities planned for the last couple months, what can be considered the pinnacle of Asbury events is in sight – Highbridge.

This year will be the eleventh year of the Highbridge Film Festival, which gives students an opportunity to create and showcase their own films. “One of the reasons we started the festival was to get people to start making movies on a more regular basis, besides just class assignments,” said Professor Greg Bandy. “Filmmaking is like sports or music. You have to practice it.”

Submitted films have the potential not only to be screened at the Highbridge Film Festival, but also to win awards. Bandy explained that the films are vetted by Asbury faculty and staff at the first level, which determines the Festival selections. After that, these polished films are judged by outside judges – professionals in the filmmaking industry – who determine the winners.

For some talented students, their work may be appreciated beyond Asbury. Last year, senior Will McBride submitted his first film, “Responsible,” to Highbridge. While it didn’t win any awards at Highbridge, the short film went on to win a Student Emmy. “It’s incredibly rewarding to have your film appreciated,” he described his Highbridge experience. “You worked really hard to make a film, and to have people see it and appreciate it is really great.” McBride is submitting three films to Highbridge this year.

While the task may sound daunting, the experience is well worth it – not only for the simple practice and fun of it, but also for exposure. “People will respect you more once they see your work,” explained Professor Sarah Leckie, “so strive to get [a film] into Highbridge.” Bandy also emphasized the breadth and value of the experience gained: “[Filmmaking] involves writing, acting, people management, photography, music, critical thinking and problem solving skills. What’s not to love?”

One of the main goals of Highbridge, along with experience, is to inspire and represent worthwhile themes with visual story. “Our culture needs storytellers who have a handle on the truth about what it means to be a human being made in the image of God,” Bandy expressed the ultimate importance and objective of the film festival.

So what makes a good film? Among Bandy, Leckie and Professor Barry Blair, all of them emphasized, as Blair said, “first and foremost, a compelling, thought-provoking story.” Bandy added that the plot must be logical and strong in order to succeed. “No amount of expertise at the other levels of the craft can make up for a weak story.” Leckie’s thoughts were similar, as she said “It doesn’t matter how good the acting was, what it looked like, how it was edited if the story isn’t impactful.”

Other tips Bandy gave were to get good actors (not just friends), turn in completed pieces and edit ruthlessly. He noted that a frequent thought among judges is that films could have been shorter. Bandy and Blair also mentioned the importance of audio as a determining factor. “Sound quality is the most overlooked aspect by student filmmakers and it separates the amateurs from the pros,” Blair said. Leckie noted that prior to submitting films, it should be “tested” on peers and teachers. “If your friends and colleagues don’t like it, the Highbridge judges probably won’t either.”

Each year’s festival promises new, as well as improved, talent that the judges are already excited for; professors enjoy the experience just as much as students. “I’m always so proud of my students. And it gives me so much joy to see their work up on the big screen,” said Leckie.

To Filmmakers, the due date for film submissions is April 10. To the rest of us, pull your favorite dress or suit and tie out of the back of your closet and get excited for Asbury’s classiest tradition. Whether you’re submitting or supporting friends, everyone is encouraged to participate in this year’s Highbridge Film Festival on April 25.