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Cameras are rolling as this year’s Campus MovieFest swings into production for its 10th year at UCF.

While most of the country has its eyes trained on the Oscars, the most important films on the minds of these UCF students are the ones they are in the midst of creating.

Campus MovieFest is the largest student film festival in the world. The company travels to universities around the country, where it hands out free equipment and gives aspiring filmmakers a week to create a five-minute short film.

The festival first came to UCF in 2007, where it has allowed students to share their work on the national stage.

“We believe every student has a story to tell,” said Wey Lin, the festival’s promotions manager. “We’re just bringing the resources. Whether you’re a hugely successful filmmaker or a first-time moviemaker, we want you to participate in Campus MovieFest.”

The event launched on Tuesday, when students gathered in the Student Union Atrium. There, they were given a Panasonic Lumix HD camera, a laptop with the entire Adobe Creative Cloud, Sennheiser audio equipment, a tripod and an offer for 24-hour tech support. Then they were set free to begin creating their cinematic masterpieces.

Lin said that more than 250 teams signed up this year, which makes UCF one of the biggest festival contributors in the country.

Out of all of these submissions, only the top 16 will be shown at the finale screening in the Student Union Pegasus Ballroom on Feb. 18. Other films will be shown as part of a highlight reel of clips during the event.

This year’s cream of the crop will have a tough act to follow, Lin said.

“Last year’s finale had the best top 16 set of films I had ever seen on tour,” she said. “I’m looking for that same quality again this year, if not better.”

Doors will open at 7 p.m. for the finale, according to UCF Today, and the show will begin at 7:30 p.m. The red carpet event is free and Lin said it will give students the opportunity to dress up and enjoy films made by their own classmates.

Daniel McCook, a junior musical theatre major who participated in CMF last year, said that he’s looking forward to the same special project that comes from this type of collaboration.

“There’s no greater joy than watching the finished product with everyone you worked with and saying ‘Look at this cool thing we all created together,’” he said. “That’s what my friends and I took away from last year, and that’s what Campus MovieFest is all about.”

McCook is working with four other students to create a film about “an average Joe who finds a watch stuck to his wrist containing secret information that will explode soon.”

McCook and the rest of the students participating are competing not only for a spot in the finale screening, but for a spot in the national competition as well.

The top 4 films will receive win a clapboard trophy, a 12-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud, and will have their movie screened at the festival’s grand finale in June, with the opportunity to have their movies screened in-flight on Virgin America flights and at the Cannes International Film Festival.

But McCook said it’s not the prizes that matter, but the experiences each student can take away from the event.

“The CMF team gives you everything you need. Anyone can do it; you just have to take the opportunity,” he said. “It doesn’t matter about what the finished product looks like. What matters is the time and creativity spent making it. That makes it great.”

It’s a sentiment that Lin said she shares as well.

“We just hope they have fun. We’re a unique, educational, once-a-year experience, and if the only thing a student takes away from it is how to film their cat, then we’ve done our part,” she said.

McCook said that he hopes his takeaway is a little bigger than a cat video; he wants his film to help inspire aspiring student filmmakers.

“I want to make it for anyone who thinks they can’t do it because they aren’t talented enough. Because they are,” he said. “I want them to see it and think ‘Wow. They made that with no time, no budget and no experience? I can do that also.’”

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Deanna Ferrante is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @deannaferrante or email her at DeannaF@centralfloridafuture.com.

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