December 16, 2013

Film students at the University of Central Florida have taken on a new role: producer.

A group of 28 students in a class this past semester took on the task of producing a compilation of five films by classmates, marketing them online and submitting them to film festivals around the country.

“Film schools usually teach students how to write and direct films,” said Rich Grula, film instructor and studio director at UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy. “Vastly more people employed in the film industry have jobs resembling what we do in The Film Producer – working to support and market films they didn’t create.”

The end product, “Five Stories 2013,” evolved from an original batch of about 75 short films made by UCF Film students this past year.

The class met weekly through the fall and screened 20 films short-listed by Grula. Once the final five were selected, small edits were suggested to the filmmakers. Then the students developed websites and marketing, prepared festival packaging and mailed the compilation to 15 film festivals, which Grula said is the primary screening route for short films.

The annual Five Stories project started in 2004, but until this year was handled by faculty members. The new system gives students the real-world experience in film marketing.

“This year, we decided to open the process to students and get them involved on every level. It’s a great opportunity for them to experience the deadlines, hassles and problem-solving skills required by a project of this scale,” Grula said. “The hands-on skills are applicable to many other industries – advertising, Internet, video games and much more. Getting that experience here at UCF is invaluable.”

Financing for the Five Stories project came from the Metro Orlando Film & Television Commission and Studio 500, an educational/commercial studio complex operated by the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy.

UCF Film is a program of the School of Visual Arts & Design, which is part of UCF’s College of Arts & Humanities.