Final Cut Film Festival Showcases Student Filmmakers Across Campus

The festival will conclude with an awards ceremony after the screenings on Oct. 19

The Department of Theatre and Media Arts’ annual Final Cut Film Festival will play in the Pardoe Theatre Oct. 17-19, giving audiences a chance to view student work on the big screen.

Submissions for the festival are open to students across campus and are selected by members of the Student Film Association in collaboration with media arts faculty and administrators. Final Cut welcomes a variety of styles, voices and genres, including short fiction, documentaries, web series, advertisements and animated films.

“We try to cast a wide net when it comes to which films are submitted and which films we select,” said Sam Matheson, vice president of the Student Film Association. “We have a diverse student body with myriad interests, and we want to represent that. There’s room for a little bit of everything in Final Cut, from big capstone productions to something funny you did with your friends one afternoon.”

One of the highlights of this year’s program is a virtual reality film created by media arts student MarKaye Hassan Anderton, who is focusing her studies on new media.

“It’s the first 360º video that will be shown at Final Cut, which means we’ve had to be creative about how we are going to display it,” said Anderton. “There will be a standard video version on the big screen, but you really can’t get the full experience unless you are viewing the film in a headset, so we will be making some available outside of the theatre for people to watch the film properly.” 

Anderton and the festival organizers hope that the unconventional screening will bring awareness to alternative methods of storytelling and get more students interested in new media.

“Technology is getting more and more interesting,” said Anderton. “As it does, people are going to be looking for storytellers and creators to help them make things in these new mediums. As much as I can, I want to show other students how exciting an opportunity this is — to be a part of that conversation, a part of history as these new art forms continue to develop.”

While the festival organizers encourage experimentation with new forms of media, they continue to take pride in showcasing more familiar styles of filmmaking as well. All four of the university-funded fiction capstones produced during the 2019-2020 school year — along with some of the nonfiction capstones — will play at Final Cut.

“The capstone experience has been one of the most valuable experiences I’ve had,” said now-graduate student Heather Moser, who directed “Paper Trails,” a dramedy about a young woman who starts receiving mysterious notes at increasing frequency. “Even before I got to direct one, my experiences working on student films were valuable because they brought into reality all the things that we talked about and learned in our classes.”

“Paper Trails” premiered with the other fiction capstones at the Vineyard Megaplex on Sept. 25 to a full house made up primarily of the peers and family members of the cast and crew. The upcoming Final Cut screenings will give the capstone directors, writers and crews a chance to observe reactions from a broader audience.

Throughout her time in the film program and her experience with the recent capstone premiere, Moser has come to understand the importance of presenting work and receiving feedback.

“I had seen the film so many times that by the time we premiered, I was almost numb to it,” said Moser. “I didn’t know what it was about anymore. I didn’t know what the theme was. I didn’t know if anybody was going to understand it or laugh at it. But as each laugh came, I started enjoying it again and remembering my original vision.” 

In addition to helping organize the event, Matheson’s short film submission was also selected for the festival. He is grateful for the chance to share his work in an environment that he emphasized is designed to be “by the students, for the students.”

“Presentation is part of the process of film, and festivals are part of the tradition of film,” he said. “That’s why we do it, to show people — we don’t make films in a vacuum. We’re students and we’re learning how to do this, so we need to know if our audience is reacting in the way we intended. Final Cut offers a great opportunity to do that.”

The festival will conclude with an awards ceremony after the screenings on Oct. 19. Awards and cash prizes will be conferred in a number of categories, including best fiction film, best nonfiction film and audience choice.

Tickets and Show Details

Performance Dates and Times: Oct. 17-19 | 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Location: Pardoe Theatre

Price: $4-5

Tickets: Available in person at the BYU HFAC or Marriott Center Ticket Office, by phone at (801) 422-2981 or online at