East Lansing Film Festival prepares to accept submissions

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By Richie Carni
Entirely East Lansing staff writer

EAST LANSING—Submissions for the 17th East Lansing Film Festival will be accepted starting in April. Filmmakers statewide can submit their work for the festival, which begins in the last week of October.

The festival lasts for an entire week at Studio C! in Okemos, with a portion taking place in Wells Hall on Michigan State’s campus.

Susan Woods, director of the film festival, said there is no specific format the films need to follow.

“It includes all genres and all formats. There are no categories and it can be any length.” said Woods, who founded the East Lansing Film Festival in 1997. “We have had them as short as 30 seconds and as long as three hours.”

The Lake Michigan Film Contest takes place during the film festival. Woods said the Lake Michigan Film Contest features many filmmakers from other states, and has one small entry requirement.

“To qualify for the Lake Michigan Film Contest, the film has to be at least one-quarter produced, filmed or funded in the state of Michigan,” Woods said.

Woods said one of the best parts about the film festival is the way it unifies the two communities within East Lansing.

“It is one of the only true town and gown event in East Lansing,” said Woods, who writes the programs and handles fundraising for the festival. “It’s during the school year, it involves students and residents, and the films are shown both on and off campus.”

Dave Bernath, a member of the festival’s selection committee, said the selection process takes place through several meetings in the months leading up to the event. Bernath said committee members submissions home with them and meet roughly every two weeks to discuss which ones are the best.

Bernath said the committee, which is generally six or seven people, critiques each submission on creativity, picture and sound quality, and whether it keeps the viewer interested, among other things.

Woods said the key to a good film is a solid base.

“The most important thing about making a film is to have a good story. That’s all it is. You have to be able to tell a story, and that is what I think is sometimes the hardest thing for people to do.”

Although the committee chooses which films will be shown at the festival, Bernath said it is up to the fans to decide which ones win.

Liz Harrow, a volunteer coordinator for the film festival, said there are a many ways to volunteer during the festival.

“We have people who are basically hospitality workers—who help people find their way, we have people taking and selling tickets, and we have people selling popcorn,” Harrow said.

Harrow also said the festival is working to get more students involved.

“We are going to be having a couple of internships available through the film festival in the fall, which could involve contacting filmmakers and scheduling films,” Harrow said.

Questions regarding volunteer opportunities for the film festival can be sent to volunteer@elff.com.

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