Full Sail Film Degree Programs Preparing Students for Film Festivals
Published on Jul 13, 2021 by Jess Reider
How Full Sail's involvement with film festivals, as well as its unique production spaces and seasoned instructors, prepare students for the world of film festivals.
Preparing students for careers in the film industry isn't just about learning the ins and outs of production. At Full Sail, instructors work to prepare students for every aspect of the industry, including film festivals. In Full Sail's Film and Television degree programs, students are introduced to the wide range of film festivals, what it takes to make a feature festival-ready, and the crucial value of building a professional network through these celebrations of film.
Full Sail's Film Backlot and Soundstage are unique campus production spaces that enable students in degree programs like Film and Creative Writing to produce quality independent features ripe for festival submission.
"As a campus Full Sail student, you have access to campus backlot sets with small low impact permits," says film instructor TJ Doctor. "Producing a micro-short film or documentary could qualify you for a student competition at the Florida Film Festival or any of the dozen film and video festivals around Florida."
With a large assortment of festivals to submit to or attend, Full Sail students are able to benefit from the university's long-standing relationship with local festivals like the Florida Film Festival.
"Year after year, Full Sail has been a true partner and champion for independent film in Central Florida," says Janie Pope, the Florida Film Festival's Director of Development and Public Relations. "The institution's contribution provides opportunities for our Oscar-qualifying festival, an endeavor of the non-profit art house cinema Enzian Theater, to host free panel discussions; educational forums; local, regional, and international filmmaker exchanges; and themed programs and events that celebrate film as art."
Preparation for film festivals isn't just an abstract concept at Full Sail, according to Film Production MFA program director Anne Russell.
"Since film festivals are such an important avenue for filmmakers to get exposure to a wider audience, we have devoted an entire month's class in the Film Production MFA program, Business of Film, to helping our students prepare for that next big step in their careers," she says.
Instructors like TJ offer their industry expertise to help present unique opportunities to grads and students interested in film festivals. Through TJ's involvement with the Sundance Institute, students can qualify for a unique opportunity to assist with The Director's Workshop, where first-time filmmakers — including the likes of Taika Waititi, Quentin Tarantino, and Chloe Zhao — participate in an immersive creative workshop focused on defining a film's visual language with industry legends including Robert Redford, Ed Harris, Sally Fields, and Octavia Spencer.
"During my 15 years with the Sundance Institute, I've been able to enlist dozens of Full Sail graduates as volunteer crew at The Director's Workshop," says TJ. "As a filmmaker just entering the industry, this opportunity to work with emerging directors who are about to shoot their first feature is invaluable. Many of the students I've brought up for the four-week director's workshop have gone on to work on several critically acclaimed films and series like GLOW, Us, and Black Widow."
Full Sail graduates aren't just working at high caliber festivals; several have been involved in projects premiering at some of the industry's most celebrated festivals including Sundance and Cannes.
"Anytime you can go to a film festival where you have a film that you're a part of there, it amplifies the festival by I would say 20 times," says film grad Kyle Romanek who worked as a cinematographer on 2020 Sundance selection Biggest Little Farm.
"I love hearing about students who get their projects into festivals," says TJ. "There's so much behind the process of making a film and then following through with festival requirements, submissions, and planning. I know how much it means to our students to see their work alongside other passionate artists."