Campus Movie Fest is a student film competition festival that travels around to different colleges and universities. It was started in 2001 by four students at Emory University, and since then has assisted more than 1,000,000 students, providing them with training and vital technology. Campus Movie Fest has teamed up with Amazon Prime Video to stream student films from all around the world. They selected the top 25 short films out of thousands of submissions from the past school year to be streamed online. The students had only one week to create the film using all their own ideas and skills. The 25 films chosen came from 19 universities and colleges from all around. Sonoma State’s very own Sam Malcolm Houser and Bria Kathryn Gabor were amongst those lucky winners. Their short film is called “Still Around”, which won the Silver Tripod Award for Best Director, and is currently available online for viewing now.
The Sonoma State Team wrote a personable and captivating story about a working woman living the year 2020. The topic of the film is of an Alexa-like virtual assistant who replaces a significant other. The virtual assistant is called Sam and can make tea, play music and keep track of game show scores. Currently, with how our modern technology is, the film gives a glimpse of how much we may rely on a robot as a helping hand and friend. This topic has been seen before in platforms such as the Netflix Original show Black Mirror in the episode “Be Right Back,” the introduction of season two. In “Be Right Back,” highly advanced technology is used and then transformed into a former lover. However, with Houser and Gabor’s film, the technology was only voice automated. Both films, in addition, are similar in the plot with a widow grieving for her husband and they both are not detailed of what exactly happened to both men, but give clues that it was presumably a car accident.
The camera angles and close ups in “Still Around” express how devastated and upset the young woman is about losing her significant other. All together, the work of this film is exceptional. With it being five minutes long, there is so much detail and story telling development. It leaves the viewers asking questions and wanting to see more. Houser and Gabor only had one week to shoot, edit and produce “Still Around,” but viewers wouldn’t know because it’s such quality work. However, they did have help from their classmates. The writers being Houser and Mary-Madison Baldo, cinematography by Houser and Baldo, editing by Houser and Adrian Causor, and composed by Charlie Scovill.
Houser and Gabor both are graduated Sonoma State students who have other notable projects. Gabor has been apart of CMF in 2013 where she does spoken word poetry in “The Upstander Effect” which was a campus finalist. This year, Houser was able to work with Adobe in creating a video to feature their Creative Cloud. Gabor, Houser and Baldo have worked on a piece in the past together for CMF in 2016 about the rape culture titled “What I wore” that went to the Cannes Film Festival in France.
This year, Sonoma State University’s Campus Movie Fest is from October 17 to October 23. Students will have an opportunity during the week to meet with the Video Manager for one-on-one assistance with the materials, editing, or any issues that may come up.