Bend Film Fest: an opportunity for student filmmakers to gain experience

This future filmmaker's competition is a local favorite for all ages

Making movies is hard. The hardest part isn’t finding the right location, hiring actors or editing—it’s coming up with the idea in the first place. Bob Marley once said that “a good thing about music is, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” In my experience, that translates into when you find some inspiration. You later do feel pain though when you realize you have to do everything else, but the product is very worth it. Filmmaking is hard, you’ll ask everybody for favors, you’ll second guess yourself, and realize that you didn’t get the right angle in the edit. What’s annoying is that a lot of filmmakers don’t have the opportunity to show their work, see other people’s work and talk about the process. That’s why we are quite lucky to have the Bend Film Fest. 

The event has been running for 20 years and is one of the only ones of its kind. You can go around town to local venues to see films and hear the filmmakers after. Any aspiring maker from middle to high school can submit a film to the Future Filmmakers competition and get their film screened and seen by professionals. This is such a cool opportunity that you really can’t find anywhere else. 

I have submitted a film in both 2022 and 2023 and won two years in a row. In order to get a film in the Future Filmmakers screening, all you need to do is submit it. That’s it. Send it in, and you too could have the audience’s attention. Now, there are a sizable number of iMovies made by 10-12-year-olds, but that’s just a product of the filmmaking camp they run during the summer for 7th-9th graders. In addition, there is also a competition from the City of Bend to make a public service announcement that gets a prize and is shown as well. 

My mentor for the initial development of my film education was an 80-year-old film critic who invited a class of high school students to learn film in his San Francisco apartment. The film I made for the 2022 festival went through six versions and three reshoots. It was originally a film I made for an assignment he gave me, but the revision process took so long that I had moved to Bend by the time it had finished. The film was called “Escape” and followed a character who was feeling stuck at home but remembered a time when they could go out on the beach. The film was actually finished at the beginning of 2021 and then submitted to that year’s festival. However, because of COVID, everything was delayed until 2022. 

The film I made for 2023 was called “The Last Dodo Hunter”, a mockumentary about a man who believes that dodo birds are still alive. From the planning to filming, the whole process only took me an hour and a half, which just goes to show that you can make a great film with a short time period. They say a film is made three times, once when you write it, second when you shoot it, and third when you edit it. A symptom of bad films is not considering one part when doing another, so understand the whole picture before you start drawing the margins. Good luck.