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Lights. Camera. Action!
TU hosts an annual film festival that showcases student films at Circle Cinema. "I decided it was important for the students to have their work seen beyond the classroom," Wright said. "The first year I taught, I had a really good group of kids, and I wanted to share their work on campus. Two years later I made a connection with Circle Cinema."
The University of Tulsa film students don't have to wait until their careers make it to the likes of Sundance to captivate audiences.
Six years ago, Michael Wright, applied associate professor of creative writing, theater and film, ensured the talents of his film students would be noticed.
Wright created the Spring Student Film Festival in 2003 to enhance his students' development and to introduce their work to a larger audience. The festival allows student films to be viewed by faculty, students, families and film enthusiasts from throughout the community.
"I decided it was important for the students to have their work seen beyond the classroom," Wright said. "The first year I taught, I had a really good group of kids, and I wanted to share their work on campus. Two years later I made a connection with Circle Cinema."
For the 2007 festival, students created short films using the same score from the hit television show, Smallville. The average length was five minutes, and themes ranged from music videos to documentaries to narrative films. Some of the pieces were created by students in Wright's advanced film class.
On May 4, 2007, 17 short films were viewed on TU's campus. The following Saturday, a public viewing of the films was presented at Circle Cinema.
"The students who were able to come to both showings received a huge benefit," Wright said. "They got to sit with friends and family to see their film, and they had the chance to experience the reactions of an audience that included people they didn't know in a real theater. I would venture to say that the Circle exposure made them feel they'd really arrived as a professional."
Circle Cinema's mission is to use film to foster understanding and appreciation of the diversity of the human experience, creating community among viewers. The partnership with TU fulfills these goals, as well as gives TU students an advantage over students from other film programs in Oklahoma.
"Many of our students are coming out of the program and going into the professional world very easily," Wright said. "TU film students have been tremendously successful after graduation with some leaving for the American Film Institute, while others are working at HBO studios, or in New York City."