June 18, 2012
|Chase Jennings ’12 created a video diary of his experience at Cannes Film Festival 2012.
At 22 years old, Chase Jennings ’12 has done something most filmmakers only dream of experiencing in their lifetime: He’s walked the red carpet and screened one of his films at The Cannes International Film Festival. This spring, Jennings’ film, which was Best Picture winner at this year’s Campus MovieFest, was one of 30 films selected from 500,000 to be shown during Cannes’ Short Film Corner.
Not surprisingly, the recent critical media and cultural studies graduate is off to California to pursue a career in the movies. “I can't believe that what started out as a fun hobby is actually becoming a career,” Jennings said. “I've always refused to work a desk-job—not that there's anything wrong with that. My mind just requires constant creativity, and my happiness thrives on bringing ideas to life. I’ve promised myself that I will only allow myself to have a career doing what I love, even if I'm stuck on the streets and starving. I just didn't expect it would become a reality this quickly, so luckily I haven't gone hungry yet.”
How did you end up having a film go to Cannes?
I participated in this year's Campus MovieFest, which is an annual event that Rollins has brought to campus for about six years. Campus MovieFest provides all students who want to make a film with a camera, tripod, microphone, and a MacBook pro with all the necessary editing software.
Once they give you the equipment, you have exactly one week to complete your film and turn it into them. They review it with some judges (comprised of students, faculty, and staff) and choose the top 20 to show at this giant film premiere event in the gym where they set up a red carpet and everything. It's really neat.
After they show the top 20 films, they announce three winners of the competition - Best Comedy, Best Drama, and Best Picture. I made my film literally the night before it was due, so I was surprised to find out my film even got into the top 20. But I was even more surprised to find out my film ended up winning Best Picture. The even bigger shock was having Campus MovieFest contact me a few weeks later to tell me that out of all the films in the nation, mine advanced past the State competition and eventually Nationals, and was chosen to show at the Cannes Film Festival.
What was the experience in Cannes like?
Sublime. It was hectic, beautiful, and surreal. Every day I would see between five to ten celebrities. I even got to meet a bunch of them, including Edward Norton, who I met at a Mozilla FireFox party.
I got an autograph from Elijah Wood before his premiere of his new film, Maniac. I also had a pretty lengthy discussion with Bonnie Wright (who played Ginny Weasley in Harry Potter). And I'm pretty sure she was flirting with me, so that was cool!
Having a filmmaker badge meant I was invited to and attended the screenings in the world-famous Grand Theatre Lumiere. Almost every night, I got to get dressed up in a sweet tuxedo and walk the red carpet with all the celebrities. Then, we'd all go into the theater together where we'd watch the film with them for the first time. It was incredible because I would be about 50 feet away from the stars of the movie, and they'd stand up and receive applause after the movie and we'd all get to see their reactions.
Aside from seeing the celebrities, the city itself was gorgeous. My apartment was a 15-minute walk from the main area of Cannes, where they had all the theaters. The walk was along the shore of the ocean, which overlooked mountains on one side and endless beautiful architecture on the other.
What do you think was your biggest take away from that experience?
The biggest take away for me was probably getting to network with all the other filmmakers and producers at the festival. Only official filmmakers and buyers were given accreditation badges into this giant mall-like area underneath the main theater. Inside, everyone would go to different booths and speak to companies, promote their films with flyers, hand out business cards, etc.
Probably the coolest part about having an accreditation badge was having access to all the workshops that they presented daily. One of the best workshops was taught by Brett Ratner, director of Rush Hour 1 & 2, X-Men 3, and Horrible Bosses. He spoke to around 30 of us about the film industry—what it takes to make it, how to promote your films, how to improve techniques, how the industry is changing, and how to adapt to it—really useful information. I can't pinpoint one thing, but I'd definitely have to say I took away an immense amount of amazing knowledge, inclined technical skills, and all the connections I made through networking.
Do you have future plans in the world of filmmaking?
Absolutely. I will always have a passion for filmmaking. I actually have been busy editing films and learning as much as I can about all these new special effects programs every single day since I've returned.
I made a lot of connections at Cannes who want me to work with them in the future, and also some people who want me to score several short films for them. Aside from that, I have about seven projects lined up that I'm working on here in Orlando.
Most excitingly, I have a potential job offer in San Diego to do post-production work with video and audio. The company is amazing, and I couldn't be more excited because they're promising to foster my creativity and help me to achieve my full potential.
In the future, I plan on creating music videos for my own musical project and friends' bands who I intend to include on my label. From there, I'm hoping I'll attract some attention of more funders who'll allow me the opportunity to start making some full-length features.
Don't expect me to be the next Michael Bay though; I hate actions films and predictable, formulaic plot lines. Expect to see something more meaningful, because my ultimate future plan in the world of filmmaking is to change the world of filmmaking. I want to become the inspiration for a new generation of filmmakers, the same way many visionary directors (like M.F. Murnau, Jean-Luc Godard, David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, and Michel Gondry) have inspired me. I'll admit that I'm certainly a long way from mastering their level of brilliance at the moment, but there isn't a thing in the universe holding me back from getting there eventually. I've never been so excited to learn in my entire life.
By Kristen Manieri