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Campus MovieFest shoots from Atlanta 

Emory students create the world's largest student film festival

In 2001, four Emory students asked themselves one enterprising and slightly out-of-the-blue question: What would happen if students were supplied with all the equipment and training necessary to successfully create a short film?

Instead of simply asking a rhetorical question, David Roemer, Dan Costa, Vijay Makar and Ajay Pillarisetti set out to make their idea a reality, ultimately leading to the formation of the now nationally acclaimed Campus MovieFest. Armed with a grassroots marketing style, they gathered the necessary materials and decided to test their plan on fellow students at Emory University.

They received an overwhelming response. Only seven years after its humble conception, CMF landed a spot in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Not bad for four guys with no film experience.

CMF has grown exponentially in those seven years, partnering with Fortune 500 companies and other organizations that have dedicated themselves to helping students share their unique voices. This year's tour will host 50 events around the world with stops in Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington, New York and Atlanta, just to name a few.

Here's the lowdown: Participating students receive an Apple laptop loaded with iLife 08 and Final Cut Studio video-editing software, a digital video camera and all necessary accessories, paired with 24/7 support from the CMF team for one solid week. With the materials and training in hand, the students create short films birthed completely from their own imagination and determination. The movies, each five minutes in length or less, can be about anything.

"We get a lot of comedies and a lot of dramas," Roemer says. "There is incredible creativity out there."

At the end of the week, the students get together for an Oscars-style presentation showcasing the films and honoring the top movie submissions. So far, CMF has awarded more than $500,000 in prizes including Apple iPods, airplane tickets, mobile phones, Apple computers, cash, scholarships and even the opportunity to pitch ideas to Hollywood executives.

CMF is constantly evolving. This year it's unveiled a new platform that will allow local musicians to submit their own music to the festival's website, which supplies student filmmakers with a source of free music to score their films.

Submitting musicians also can enjoy worldwide exposure. After all, the students' films have been shown all over the United States, are featured each month in-flight on Virgin Airlines, and have had airtime on the "Today Show," "World News Tonight" with Diane Sawyer, CNN and other media outlets. You couldn't ask for better publicity. In September, Campus MusicFest will host its first nationwide battle of the bands, supplying even more opportunities for musicians to get their names out to the public.

The process of creating a short film from beginning to end and then seeing it up on the big screen can be an amazing experience for students, but CMF also enhances classroom curriculum, not to mention students' technology skills – all in all making college life that much better.

alicia.wages@creativeloafing.com

To find out when CMF swings by your school, visit www.campusmoviefest.com.

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