CONWAY — The 10th annual University of Central Arkansas Film Festival is sort of like Forrest Gump’s comment about a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get.
They’re all good, though, said Joe Dull, associate professor of digital filmmaking and coordinator of the undergraduate film program.
“Oh, gosh, we’ve had musicals in the past, and because it’s college kids, there’s always one horror film. There are straight comedies, straight action films, everything across the map,” Dull said.
The best films created by UCA digital-filmmaking students will be shown at 5:30 p.m. April 25 in the Donald W. Reynolds Performance Hall on campus.
The films must be 20 minutes in duration or shorter.
“It is amazing,” Dull said. “There are some of them that are just fantastic. If you are interested in film, there is a movie, at least one, that you’re really going to enjoy.”
Senior Michael Tatum, 24, of Pine Bluff is entering the film Lumina, which he wrote.
“It’s a short film, but an epic film,” Tatum said. “It’s action-adventure film, fantasy more on the lines of The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia.”
Tatum, a digital filmmaking major, said he has made films before, “but nothing on this scale.”
The student said he and his crew, using a warehouse in Conway, made a 30-foot-long, 8-foot-tall tunnel for the set. He said they used wood, Styrofoam and “tons of papier-mache.”
Four main characters are in the film, he said.
“It’s a pretty deep story,” Tatum said. “A long time ago, there’s this light, or this jewel, called the emerald light. This king used it to rule his kingdom.”
With the light, everyone prospered, and “his kingdom was perfect,” Tatum said.
The king became greedy and wanted the light for himself, so he took it, which plunged the kingdom into darkness, Tatum said. People realized they had hate in their hearts, and a civil war started in the kingdom.
“The king runs off into the dark forest because he is no longer pure of heart,” Tatum said. “The darkness transforms him into this malevolent creature.”
Enter a father and two children. The father is kidnapped, “we don’t know by what,” Tatum said, and his children search for him. They go into a cave and find their father and the king, who is keeping the light hidden from the world.
“The evil king tries to stop them from returning the light,” Tatum said.
He’s not giving away the ending.
What also makes the film unique, Tatum said, is that it starts with 2-D animation, goes to live action and ends with 2-D animation.
“It’s never been done by a student at UCA,” he said.
Dewey Farmer, 22, of Hot Springs is the film’s producer. He’s also a senior digital filmmaking major.
“We wanted to make a large fantasy adventure that really hasn’t been done on campus,” Farmer said.
Farmer also said the “hybrid” of 2-D and live action is different than the norm. He said the film is about 15 minutes long.
Dull said about 300 people come to the free event each year.
“We make a dent in the seating in Reynolds,” he said.
He said the festival gives the students and filmmaking program good exposure.
Dull, who has been on the UCA faculty for eight years, said with a laugh that he didn’t realize this was the 10th annual festival until he saw the headline on a press release.
Students can submit films year-round, Dull said.
“It usually ends up being anywhere from 20 to — I think we may have had 40 one year,” he said.
Dull said he and a committee watch all the movies and choose the ones to be shown at the festival.
“We pick usually about 1 1/2 hours worth of films,” Dull said. “We’re generally looking for a combination of entertainment and artistic merit.”
A panel of guest judges, made up of professionals in the industry, Dull said, decide which of the films will receive awards. The awards are presented after the screenings.
Tatum said he’s optimistic that his film will receive an award.
“The film has a lot going for it,” he said. “The effects are looking awesome, the cast is great, and the story is strong.”
Most of the films were created for classes and already have received a grade, Dull said.
“This is the fun part,” he said.
For more information, contact Dull at (501) 852-2377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or email@example.com.