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Campus Movie Fest winners


Three UT students won the Jury Award (top four films in the school) for the Campus Movie Festival. Each finalist advanced to the national division of the competition, Terminus Film Festival, which will be taking place in Atlanta, Georgia on June 15-17. Their films can be watched on the Campus Movie Festival’s website, campusmoviefest.com/ut.

Byron Gamble breaks barriers with LGBTQ+ movie “In a Day.”

Senior film and media arts and advertising major Byron Gamble sought to break LGBTQ+ stereotypes with his two-and-a-half minute film In a Day.

His film portrayed two gay men living their lives together. The two-and-a-half minute film had no dialogue, but was accompanied by a song his friend, Izzy Bradburn, wrote and sang for the feature.

“I wanted the visuals to speak for itself,” Gamble said. “The point was more about the love aspect rather than how the actors were two men instead of a heterosexual couple.”

Gamble said the calm music and silence of the actors alongside the close-up shots were attempts to diversify the perception of the LGBTQ+ community.

“There is a problem with mainstream media stereotyping the queer community and I am tired of seeing the ‘flamboyant gay male’ stereotype,” Gamble said. “I think it’s time to see something new when presenting what an LGBT couple acts and appears as.”

Though many of his early films were captured through cell phone camera lenses, filmmaking has always been Gamble’s favorite form of storytelling.

“I’ve always loved art, photography and sculpting,” Gamble said, “but you can create any type of illusion on screen and represent anything visually. That’s what makes film in particular so appealing to me.”

Gamble has been making movies since he was in elementary school. He was a finalist in the Campus Movie Festival two years in a row, winning the Jury Award both times. He has also edited and directed films shown during Gasparilla, the Tampa Museum of Art and international film festivals.

Gamble said his winning film strayed far from his usual work. Since he didn’t own a professional video camera until his junior year of college, many of his early works were experimental and captured by his phone. Though he said he is well-equipped today, the filmmaker still prefers performance visual arts over traditional storytelling. “In a Day” is one of his only works with a true narrative.

Besides being a director, Gamble said he enjoys being an actor — but he is more likely to make an appearance if he is directing, and if it is a role he wrote for himself. Gamble said he likes the control when he directs, but would rather play a role that is “a portal” to himself.

During times of doubt, Gamble said he reaches out to his mom, dad and grandma. The senior said he has heard a lot of critique throughout his student career, but that his mindset allows him to cope.

“I handle criticism by listening,” Gamble said, “but I listen to my own values louder than the critics.”

Gamble said it may be difficult for someone to make a living off of filmmaking, but encouraged the people interested in the industry to follow their dreams.

“If you have a story, then believe in yourself and believe in your story,” Gamble said. “Do everything in your power to tell that story the way you want it to be told.”

Spreading a message through “The Fifth Stage” by Luke Searles

Freshman film and media arts major Luke Searles spread awareness of mental illness through his film The Fifth Stage.

His five minute short film landed him in the top four of the Campus Movie Festival. Overall, he and his team put in a total of 45 hours of work on the film. He said it was inspired by his interest in psychology and Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development — but more inspired by his desire to spread a message through his creations.

“Something I really love doing is making films that you can connect to, and that have personability and relatability behind them,” Searles said. “That’s what makes great movies.”

For Luke Searles, creating films wasn’t always a passion. He used to dread the film classes he took in high school and only stuck around because his friends that were in the same courses.

After the supportive push of family and peers during high school, he is studying film and media arts and has earned several accolades. Searles has roughly 50 video creations to his name, and has placed in national competitions such as the National 10 Day Film Competition and Student Television Network Convention. His short film “Day Infinity” has been shown in six different countries through a submission contest, including Spain, Australia and France.

Searles said the longest film he has made is eight and a half minutes long.

“Attention spans are at the shortest they’ve been,” Searles said. “If you see a video that’s over ten minutes long, you won’t want to watch it.”

He said being a filmmaker, he has to know his audience, and his audience are teenagers and young adults who find most of their content on short YouTube and Instagram videos.

Though he takes small influences from Alfred Hitchcock and Quentin Tarantino, like playing cameos in many of his films, he does not get his inspiration from established works, but rather his own mind.

His whole life, he said he has never been one to watch a lot movies, even though he is planning to make a career out of filmmaking. He wants to individualize the styles and stories he creates.

“I like to have my own imagination,” Searles said. “If I watch something and I see something that was even a little similar to my idea, then I lose it. Now, I feel like I can’t do it.”

Searles said his film process starts from an idea and transforms into hours of films, edits, revisions and self-criticism. He finds support with his mother and friends back at home in South New Jersey, all of whom have watched his cinematic journey.

Though his main support system is back at home, he said he finds consolation in his two roommates, freshmen Nick Cerullo and Mike Goldsmith, who Searles referred to as his left- and right-hand men.

“He can get really stressed, and it’s hard to beat himself up as much as he does,” Goldsmith said. “I like to help him as much as I can without overstepping boundaries.”

Searles said in order to succeed, a filmmaker must work on their craft every single day, whether it’s watching tutorials or writing scripts. He said even when he starts to appreciate one of his creations, he believes none of the films he has made will ever be finished — it’s the biggest lesson he’s learned in his student career.

“Everybody is bad at some point,” Searles said. “My first film wasn’t a [Steven] Spielberg film, and no one else’s will be either. Practice, practice and practice again.”

A double win with Charles Potts: “Rosso Notte” and “Elephant”

Senior Charles Potts earned a double win with two of his films landing him a spot as a finalist: Rosso Notte and Elephant.

Charles Potts, who could not be contacted for this story, had two films voted as finalists; both movies did not have any dialogue.

“Rossa Notte” was a 3-minute alien horror film focusing largely on music scoring and sound effects.

Taking a turn into the thriller genre, “Elephant” centers on a hitman interacting with his target and the moments after the victim’s death.

Demi Manglona can be reached at nicoledemi.manglona@spartans.ut.edu

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