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Clemson annual Film Fest triumphs in third year

Katie Bradham // Video Editor
Catherine Bergman accepts her award for best actor in a drama.

It was lights, camera, action in Watt Auditorium as Clemson Film Club hosted its third annual film festival this past Saturday. The Clemson Film Festival was an all-day event featuring a panel talk with industry professionals, showing student-made films and culminating in a red-carpet awards ceremony.

The film festival gives students looking to make it in the field — or even just avid film fans — a chance to get hands-on experience and the ability to hear from those years into a career in filmmaking.

While the student film screenings and awards ceremony are exciting ways for students to see their hard work recognized, the industry panel is an important informational element of the festival as it gives a look into what it means to make a life and a living out of film.

The panel was particularly star-studded this year as it featured Sam Sokolow, an Emmy-winning producer and owner of EUE/Sokolow Studios; notable actor Bronsonn Taylor; Academy Award-winning writer of “Toy Story” and “Money Talks” Alec Sokolow; and young filmmaker Nigel Butler, the producer of numerous indie projects.

Each panelist provided a backstory on how their career in the entertainment industry got started.

“This is really possible; this is work that we do and that you can do,” Sam Sokolow, also a film professor in the World Cinema department, said, opening the panel on an encouraging note.

A journey to stardom is always impressive, but when it begins after a 25-year military career, it becomes a magnificent achievement. After retiring from the army, Taylor decided to enroll in graduate school and attended an acting seminar on a whim. He fell in love with acting almost immediately and decided to pursue it.

The humorous panelist prides himself on his resilience, explaining, “You’re going to get told ‘no’ a million times, but that one yes will feel better than everything.”

Panel member Alec Sokolow also showed incredible strength throughout his career. While writing the script for the Disney Pixar movie “Toy Story,” Sokolow lost his father, one of his biggest supporters growing up. Before the premiere of the movie, he was living paycheck to paycheck, barely able to pay rent.

“Two weeks before the movie came out, I had 11 dollars in my bank account,” he told the audience. “Whatever you want to happen can happen if you have grit.”
Before ending the discussion, the panelists left the audience with one key piece of advice: “There is only one rule in show business, and no one knows what it is.”

After a brief lunch break, cinephiles reconvened for an afternoon of student-made film screenings. Members of the Clemson Film Club work hard throughout the school year on their films, doing all casting, shooting and producing themselves.

The student-made films spanned various genres, from a day-in-the-life vlog-style film and comedy pieces to much more intense dramas.

The chance to present their work to an audience and get feedback is a key implementation of what was learned in the industry panel. One of the advantages of Film Fest is it provides the chance to learn and do.

Many students also made appearances in their fellow club members’ films, taking the opportunity to explore all aspects of filmmaking, acting included.

At the awards show, film club members appeared on the red carpet and posed for photos in a glamorously transformed Watt Auditorium.

Among notable award winners were “The Pro,” a comedy film by Sam Langenfeld and Athan Peppard, which won best short film, and Catherine Bergman, best actor in a drama, for her performance in “The Abortion.”

“It means so much to see so many women nominated,” Bergman said in her acceptance speech. “Shoutout to women in film!”

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Sydney Smith
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