Since there are more indie filmmakers these days than blades of grass in Liberty State Park, getting a movie seen by an audience is a struggle, particularly for emerging filmmakers with no name recognition. Thus, young filmmakers like Jovanni Ibarra scope every opportunity to get their work seen on a big screen.
Two years ago the New Jersey City University grad entered his film “Redemption” into the New Jersey Young Film and Videomakers Festival and won the Jury’s Choice first prize in the college category. The 14-minute film about a hoarder who tries to reconnect with his family as he struggles with mental illness was unique and moving.
“In my work, I want the audience to feel,” said Ibarra. “I don’t just want them to watch. There’s a difference between shooting a film and making a film. I try to make films. Anyone can point a camera and shoot. Making something that impacts the audience, like creating a work of art, is much harder.”
‘I find that the younger students tend to be freer and less inhibited, so there is often an open quality to their films.’ – John Columbus
“I’ll be honest. I entered the festival because the entry fee was low ($20). And since it was [hosted] by my school, I thought it would be a good way to start showing my work at festivals,” said Ibarra. “But then when I won, I got to hear feedback from the jury members who chose my film…and why. I got to hear what worked and what didn’t. Hearing what other people had to say about that film helped me figure out what I should and shouldn’t do in my next film. So, it was a learning experience.”
Since winning the Jury’s Choice in 2010, Ibarra has completed another short film and currently has “three or four other projects in the pipeline,” he said, including a music video and an opportunity to direct a script written by screenwriter.
The New Jersey Young Film and Videomakers Festival, according to Black Maria Executive Director John Columbus, can give emerging talent like Ibarra the supportive push they need to launch a professional career in the movie business.
“The Black Maria Film Festival, obviously gives recognition to New Jersey’s filmmakers, who are professionals and who have been making films for a while,” said Columbus. “Being close to New York, sometimes our filmmakers get overlooked. But we also felt it was important to give some recognition and encouragement to young filmmakers, too…And sometimes there’s some really creative work coming from these students. I find that the younger students tend to be freer and less inhibited, so there is often an open quality to their films.”
The older students who are studying film in college, he said, are sometimes very concerned with The Script – and inadvertently impose a rigidity to their work that is absent in films from the middle and high schoolers.
Surprisingly, the films submitted for consideration for the Young Film and Videomakers Festival, even in the younger grades, range from animation, narrative, documentary, and everything in between. Some entries come from groups of students who worked collaboratively on a class project – which is one of the best ways for young filmmakers to get their hands on cameras, lights, and editing and audio equipment.
As for Ibarra – who was a media arts major at NJCU and who is considering graduate school at Columbia University – he has stepped up to a digital Cannon E3i DSLR to make his films.
“As I continue to grow as a filmmaker, I don’t just want to make ‘pretty films.’ I want to give the audience compelling characters that draw them in.”
Call for submissions
NJCU’s media arts department is currently accepting applications for the upcoming Young Film and Videomakers Festival. The festival is open to New Jersey-based filmmakers who shoot on film or video and who are between the ages of 12 and 28. (Filmmakers whose permanent home is New Jersey but who attend school out-of-state can participate in the festival.) Submissions will be divided into four categories: middle school, high school, college, and post-college.
Submissions are due by May 30. The entry fee is $20. For more information, visit www.blackmariafilmfestival.org, e-mail info@blackmariafilmfestival, or call (201) 200-2043.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.