Three NC State undergraduate students are heading to Hollywood this summer with their short film, “The Strong One.” The five-minute production won Best Picture, Best Directing, and Audience Choice awards in the 2012 CampusMovieFest (CMF) held at North Carolina State University this spring. It has since had nearly 3,000 views on the CMF website, CampusMovieFest website.
“Our film is a drama, but the Best Picture Award is the highest award to win at the campus level,” said Josh Bielick, a Poole College of Management senior in business administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship and the film’s cinematographer. “Winning this award gave us an automatic advancement to the next level, CMF Hollywood,” he said.
NC State’s Best Drama, Best Comedy Films Also Competing
Two other NC State campus-level award winners – Best Drama Twenty-Six and Best Comedy Int.Lobby – will also compete in Hollywood at the Campus Moviefest International Grand Finale, June 21-23, Beilick said.
The top films from each school in the CMF tour from around the world will be judged, competing for top honors from best picture, best drama and best comedy to awards acknowledging quality in directing, editing, cinematography and other technical areas. “Awards are typically presented by celebrities each year, and the three-day event features many workshops, networking socials, and lectures by industry luminaries,” he said.
Beyond the recognition, Bielick said, “I think we approached making this film with the intent to do more than win a competition. We wanted to trigger an emotional response—to share this story in a way we’d enjoyed it. We were extremely excited to see the film win best picture, because it meant we could share the film with an even larger audience. We all reached out from different parts of the university and were excited to bring our talents to the table and create something truly collaborative. We’re extremely excited to represent our school and share the film in Hollywood this June.
Bielick has created a documentary about their production as part of a fundraising project to cover his team’s transportation costs. Details are available at the online fundraising platform, Indiegogo.
Creating “The Strong One”
“The Strong One” is a story that follows a young boy as his imagination takes him on adventures with his best friend, a brontosaurus, and begins to help him deal with the struggles of growing up. The five-minute film is based on the poem, “Jurassic Parking Lot,” written by Tim Reavis, a senior in English with a concentration in creative writing in NC State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. He was writer and one of the actors in the film. Nicholas Sailer, a senior in industrial design in the College of Design, served as director and screenwriter. They were assisted by Matt Harris, production assistant.
Creating “The Strong One” involved a lengthy pre-production cycle that included storyboarding, scouting for locations, shopping for a dinosaur, and close calls at a seedy motel in Durham, N.C., Bielick said. The experience was very rewarding, as the team turned narration into a visual form, thanks to “three bright minds coming together as a springboard for potential,” Bielick said.
He first approached Reavis after an open mic night sponsored by Windhover, NC State’s literary magazine. Reavis’ cult status as a very visual poet and dedicated following among NC State students caught Bielick’s attention. One day while at Global Village, Bielick approached Reavis to discuss his interest in producing a film based on Reavis’ poem, “The Strong One.” Months passed before Bielick heard a response, but his patience paid off when Reavis decided to not only contribute his poem, but also participate in the film’s production as writer.
“He delivered re-writes while maintaining literary value,” Bielick said. “It was a pleasurable dynamic and a great collaboration.”
Building a Creative Team – It’s Like an Entrepreneurial Venture
Prior to meeting Reavis, Bielick had met Sailer at an NC State Entrepreneurship Initiative meeting on the university’s Centennial Campus. Before starting the film production process, Bielick and Sailer spent time getting to know each other, making sure that their efforts would not go wasted, Bielick said.
“I’ve treated almost all of my projects as miniature ventures – seeking investments for equipment, establishing timelines and milestones, pursuing the perfect team,” he said.
From the beginning of Bielick’s filmmaking and production endeavors, he’d always drawn a correlation between the elements of entrepreneurship and media production. The principles are essentially the same, he said. Filmmaking requires passion, dedication, diligence, budgeting, financing, and skill, but filmmaking and narrative projects have a unique, crucial variable – art.
Like starting up a company, film production requires passion, planning, and a good team for the best possible outcome. After completing post-production, the team showed the film to all those who had been involved in the process via Vimeo, a website dedicated to video sharing. The initial viewers’ response satiated the team’s curiosities about how a general audience would react towards the film.
“Heading into the CampusMovieFest premiere night and awards ceremony, we were hoping for the best,” said Bielick. “But [we were] mostly excited about sharing the film with a theater audience and hearing and seeing the reactions.”
Bielick said that having people devote their undivided attention to the efforts and work displayed on a grand cinema screen was rewarding in its own right, but receiving the Best Picture award was very validating, encouraging the team to push the film for more exposure and generate more publicity and prize winnings.
“It’s difficult to assess your own work sometimes,” Bielick said. “Winning an award establishes credibility and adds value to everyone’s work. It feels great.”
In the photo are, left to right: Josh Bielick, Nicholas Sailer and Tim Reavis.