Campus Movie Fest-ivities at Lincoln Center


Michael Stearman, FCLC ’20, at the Campus Movie Fest screening at Rose Hill. (ANDREW BEECHER/THE OBSERVER)


For its 10th year running, the week of April 17 saw the return of Campus Movie Fest (CMF) at Fordham University for its annual student film production project.

Started as a passion project in 2001 by students for students, CMF engages with colleges all across the country (and select international institutions), providing various production resources and culminating with a school-wide screening of all entries. All participants are given Apple computers with Adobe editing software, HD camera equipment and high-tech audio gear — free of charge — to create a five-minute comedy, drama or documentary that is ultimately shown to the public in a red carpet event.

“The CMF is a huge opportunity for film and television majors and non-majors alike to collaborate creatively and have tons of fun,” Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) artist-in-residence James Jennewein explained. “You get to script your own original story and film and edit it — and then enter it into competition. [It’s] a great way to test your creativity and put your work out into the world.”

CMF participants from both the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses are given a week to produce, shoot and edit their submissions. In competition with more than 30 schools nationwide, Fordham participants premiere at Edwards Parade at the Rose Hill campus before select finalists move to the CMF Grande Finale, in which young filmmakers and producers internationally compete for student film awards. Categories include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Story and, more recently, Best Sound.

The 2017 CMF Campus Finalist Michael Stearman, FCLC ’20, explained his personal creative process and experience, “Last year my friend Celia [Mesa-López,a former transfer student at FCLC] started writing a movie [“Becoming No One” (2017)] for the competition and I came on board later to co-write and co-direct it,” he said. Aware of the week-long time crunch, “We worked on the script before the film week started and planned out how to shoot everything. After two days of shooting, we holed up in Celia’s room for the whole weekend to edit.”

Despite the challenges and inevitable stress, Stearman has nothing but praise for the contest. An economics major with hopes to attend law school post-graduation, Stearman said, “The whole thing was an absolutely wonderful experience that allowed both of us to flex our creative muscles on a passion project.” For him, the collaborations both on and off the screen “really made the movie what it was.” He has even reentered the competition this year, dabbling in comedy with FCLC students David Moses and Dean Tierney in a project that has been in the works for over two months.

Fordham Lincoln Center Film Making Club Vice President, Nevin Kelly-Fair, FCLC ’19, also shared a similar sentiment.  “[The competition] gives structure and a deadline, two things creatives are inherently averse to,” Kelly-Fair said.

For this year, he and Filmmaking Club President Luke Momo, FCLC ’18, crafted a self-described, “short one-shot comedy that mixes New York City film genres for comedic effect.” Inspired by the variety of filmic narratives centered in and around New York, Kelly-Fair said, “We wanted to physically manifest the feeling of being caught off-guard by someone’s words … I think people sometimes forget how to feel, or how words can pack as much of a punch, if not more, than a lineman.”

In addition, CMF also doles out dozens of prizes for their winners. “They can win anything from a year’s worth of Adobe Creative Cloud to the opportunity to see their films screen at the Cannes International Film Festival,” CMF representative Joey Engelman explained. And with sponsors including Amazon Prime Video, Adobe and Panasonic, the hands-on experience and enticing prizes will inevitably make for an exciting and creative time.

The opportunity is undeniably a wonderful chance for majors and novices alike to fuel their creative energy in an artistic atmosphere with their peers. Jennewein himself loves the amount and “wide variety of work that is produced,” finding it “a joy and a ‘wow’ to see the story ideas that Fordham students come up with each year.”

Kelly-Fair agrees; he enjoys “seeing young people come together to author a visual story … it’s great to see students take advantage of a medium that has become increasingly easy and streamlined to tell compelling, emotional stories through.”

Currently heading film practice studies as a decorated Hollywood screenwriter, Jennewein offers sage advice to those in the competition — “If you like film and television or media in general, get involved. Go for it. Come up with an idea and film it with your friends.  Make what makes you excited!”

Be sure to check out for more information and to stay up-to-date on Fordham University student entries. Best of luck to all competing!