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Sprite Refreshing Films contest to give film students a taste of the big time

Staff, students and Sprite swag crowded into Studio B last Monday for the interest meeting for the Sprite Refreshing Films Contest. Scores of future cinematographers packed together to hear the words of Dreaming Tree Films representative Aviva Kleiner.

Dreaming Tree Films is the partner production company with Sprite, Kleiner said. Dreaming Tree focuses on teenage talent, promoting films through various contests including the Refreshing Films one.

The Refreshing Films Contest has three ways to get involved: script writers, film crew and staff interns.

Only a portion of the Refreshing Films Contest is open to students nationwide. Any interested students from the age of 13-19 can apply to work sound, video or even storyboarding in the film crew department. The other positions, script writer and staff intern, have to come from only 12 predetermined schools.

Paul Castro, visiting professor of communications, made sure that Elon was one of the 12 this year.

“I called the Coca-Cola company and asked that Elon be allowed to compete,” Castro said.

Castro said he was so impressed with the film students at Elon, both when meeting some through Elon in L.A. and upon working at Elon.

“I thought, ‘They should be on that roster,'” he said.

The three positions require applications. Script writers may submit up to five screenplays, but each requires an individual application. Script writers may also be from any discipline at Elon. In fact, at the interest meeting three accounting majors were present, as well as an English major and a theatrical design major interested in applying.

A short application and no experience is necessary for this position to be a part of the film crew.

Staff interns are the producers, directors and technical directors that make the films. These positions are required to be filled by communications majors from the eligible schools.

The staff intern position will be able to count as experiential learning and can be taken for credit. Though the title of ‘intern’ sounds more distant from the action, it’s not always so.

“You will not be the intern to the director,” Kleiner said. “You will be the director.”

The winning submissions for screenplay, as well as those chosen for the film crew and staff intern positions will fly to one of six partnering cities: Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York or Dallas to begin a marathon seven-day shooting event.

Casting calls, script tweaking and initial production begin on the first few days, then shooting the film takes one day and editing consumes the last few. Dreaming Tree and Sprite are working with celebrities to make cameos in the films. There is no word on an official list of the celebrities involved.

The films will have budgets between $10,000 and $15,000. Following production, the films will premiere online and a national voting system will determine which is the best film. The winning movie will be shown at a film festival in June.

“This is national exposure for Elon students,” Castro said. “It opens doors for writers, directors and producers. You can quickly go from a zero to hero.”

Castro is familiar with the partnership because, as a student at UCLA, he entered his refreshing film and won.

“It’s an opportunity to work with a lot of other talented students,” he said.

The scripts will have to fall under a theme.

“We’re looking for stories with a specific message: ‘Ingenuity takes the unexpected path, and is rewarded for it,'” the competitions website says.

Junior cinema major Michael Balderston said he is excited for the chance to compete. He plans to submit screenplays as well as apply for the staff intern positions.

“I’m in the process of shooting a short film right now,” he said, “And I’ve written a couple of scripts.”

He has been a producer before, but said he would love to have one of his screenplays recognized.

“This would be a fantastic opportunity,” he said. “It would be seen, naturally. Putting it on YouTube will make unrecognized students recognized. That is, if I’m lucky enough to get it.”

Position Specifics:

Script writers
• No specific genre, just the theme “ingenuity takes the unexpected path, and is rewarded for it.”
• Examples Dreaming Tree Representative Aviva Kleiner gave were “Milk” or “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”
• Elon University students can submit up to five screenplays
• Screenplays must be five to 15 pages long
• Must fill out one application per script

Staff interns
• Paid experience
• Positions include director, producer, technical producer and behind-the-scenes documentarian
• Must be in School of Communications
• Travel/hotel paid for if chosen
• Students cannot both write and direct, but can apply for both
• Experience needed

Film crew
• Must be 13-19 years old by Nov. 30, 2010
• No experience needed
• Travel/hotel not paid for if chosen
• Short online application



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