An interview with the Boston Student Film Festival
Marketing directors Noah Harper and Brigitte Gong recently sat down to talk more about the festival
Boston Student Film Festival
Submission Deadline: March 7
Festival Date: March 21
Now in its fourth iteration, the Boston Student Film Festival (BSFF) comes to Boston again on March 21. Marketing directors Noah Harper and Brigitte Gong recently sat down for a phone interview with The Tech to talk more about the festival.
The festival was initially started by Brandeis students who wanted to “create a platform for the film community,” and Northeastern students soon joined as well. At a glance, the festival is a platform for student filmmakers to share their work with their local community. However, the overarching objective is to create something more than just a film festival.
According to Noah, the issue they saw was that “Boston students didn’t have any sort of unity; there was no reason to go across campuses.” From there, the idea of a Boston Student Art Network (BSAN) was born with BSFF acting as the catalyst. The hope is that BSFF proliferates enough that it can expand to other areas of the arts: photography, theater, fine arts, etc., creating a Boston-wide multidisciplinary art network and in turn facilitating intercollegiate relationships.
“We want to create a foundation for something that will be long-term,” said Brigitte.
And indeed, it does appear that they are making good progress. Last year, they had 29 films from 12 (out of 35) colleges. This year, they’ve already received 30 films, and the deadline isn’t until March. Their goal is to increase participation to at least fifty percent of the Boston area colleges in upcoming festivals, spreading that “collaborative cross-campus community.” With that community comes more people who are able to help each other with projects, enabling creators to work together to bring their visions to life.
The thought of submitting a film might be daunting for first-time filmmakers, especially when it could be shown in front of a large audience comprised mainly of strangers who will silently judge their work. I raised this concern to Noah and Brigitte, who were quick to assure me that there really is no need to be worried about the process. You don’t need to be a film major or very experienced to submit a film. Compared to other film festivals, BSFF is extremely newcomer-friendly and accessible, and that’s the whole point. It serves as a level playing field separate from the fine print and trickiness of Hollywood.
“We don’t want nor need perfect art. We want first-time filmmakers,” said Noah. “[You’re] able to tell stories without a really big budget. [And with today’s technology,] you can shoot and distribute a film really fast.”
Submission is free, and films are limited to a maximum runtime of 15 minutes. Due to a two-hour time constraint, the submissions go through a selection process. (More information on submission criteria can be found at bostonstudentfilm.org.) The chosen films are then screened at the Brattle Theater, and audiences can vote in categories such as best editing and best cinematography. While there is currently no monetary prize associated with winning a category, Brigitte says the “confidence boost” from seeing your film well-received and appreciated is an irreplaceable experience.
Concluding the interview, Noah and Brigitte provided some advice for aspiring filmmakers:
Don’t try to overcomplicate things; try to tell the story simply and visually...there’s no need for thirteen background actors.
Get the basics down in terms of technique (e.g. lighting, camerawork).
You don’t need to think outside of the box if you can just tell the story well.
Don’t feel constrained by what you might consider to be limitations.
Take this opportunity to make something really cool.
And most importantly, the key is to “just do it!” in the words of Noah, quoting Shia LeBoeuf. “You have to mess up. The bar is set low in a good way.”