Daily Egyptian

Movie Camera Movement, a ‘playground’ for students to produce films

Senior+cinema+major+Michael+Morones%2C+of+Cary%2C+directs+the+camera+crew+Friday%2C+Oct.+27%2C+2017+on+the+set+of+%22Better%22+in+Carbondale.+%28Dylan+Nelson+%7C+%40DylanNelson99%29
Senior cinema major Michael Morones, of Cary, directs the camera crew Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 on the set of

Senior cinema major Michael Morones, of Cary, directs the camera crew Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 on the set of "Better" in Carbondale. (Dylan Nelson | @DylanNelson99)

Dylan Nelson | @DylanNelson99

Dylan Nelson | @DylanNelson99

Senior cinema major Michael Morones, of Cary, directs the camera crew Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 on the set of "Better" in Carbondale. (Dylan Nelson | @DylanNelson99)

By Kitt Fresa

Since November 2010, an increasingly large group of students have been coming together to write, produce and edit movies. All students are welcome and collaboration is encouraged.

This is Movie Camera Movement, a film-centered Registered Student Organization with 64 members, a number which President Michael Page said is growing every year.

“MCM is a student-run organization that tries to implement the process of how a studio film is made in the industry,” Page, a cinema and photography student from Chatham, said.

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Every member has a role to play, Vice President Davide Tomei said.

“The officers and board members are really the rudder, where we’re making sure we’re heading in the right direction,” Tomei, a cinema and photography, political science and communication studies student from Naperville. “But the students and the membership as a whole, they’re the ones generating the scripts, they’re the ones producing the films, editing the films, getting them together.”

The group is led by four officers: a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer. MCM also has a board with five members, each with their own consulting role in either design, cinematography, writing, production or editing.

Senior radio and digital media major Matthew Levy, of Northbrook, assembles a spotlight Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 on the set of “Better” in Carbondale. (Dylan Nelson | @DylanNelson99)

Students in the group have the opportunity to see every aspect of filmmaking, Page said.

“In the beginning, we will start with scripts,” Page said. “MCM has a writers’ room in which scripts are written, then those scripts are pitched and the producers will put together crews and a team to make that movie. Then we will send it into pre-production, into shooting the film on set, actually making it, then sending it into post for editing, and then finally premiering it.”

Each year is a cycle of four rounds, with two rounds each semester. These are production periods, and Page said every round tends to feature two narrative short films. However, sometimes the mold is broken, and rounds can include film types ranging from comedic skits to music videos, commercials for businesses or just a larger singular film for one round.

MCM currently is in the midst of making two films: “Where They Know Your Name,” and “Better.”

When the RSO first started, Page said everyone had to pull together whatever film equipment they personally owned. Slowly, as the group has grown able to make money through merchandise, events and fundraisers, the group was able to begin buying its own equipment.

“We are almost majority self-sustaining,” Page said.

Tomei said MCM is the reason he still goes to school at SIU.

His freshman year, Tomei said he was filling out applications to transfer. He talked to his parents and people he knew in the film industry about his decision to leave.

“They just said, ‘Your college experience is going to be what you make of it,’” Tomei said. “I realized part of the issue I was having was that I’ve got to branch out a find my niche here … This became a prime reason why I stayed and why I’m still here.”

“Better,” which is written and directed by MCM’s writing consultant Davey Peppers, is a science fiction film about a young girl confronted with a better version of herself. The plot follows how her family reacts to her changing throughout the movie.

Peppers, a sophomore from Brentwood, Tennessee, studying cinema and photography, came to SIU last year and joined MCM. He said he worked on a film called “A Sensible Senseless Killing,” which he said people seemed to enjoy.

“I was lucky enough to be able to do that again, putting together this film called ‘Better,’” Peppers said. “Because of the high production value that would be required, the film is set a little bit in the future, we decided to put together an Indiegogo fundraiser for the film and we’ve been lucky enough to raise over $2,000.”

Senior cinema major Michael Morones, of Cary, adjusts a camera Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 on the set of “Better” in Carbondale. (Dylan Nelson | @DylanNelson99)

He said the film is a bit unusual for MCM but experimentation is one of the benefits of being a part of the group.

Page agreed. 

“MCM always felt like a sandbox,” Page said. “A playground where there are resources, collaborators and opportunity. The stakes are kind of high … but it was a sandbox — if you destroy the sandcastle, it’s OK, it’s just sand.”

The leeway to fail makes the educational experience that much better, Tomei said.

“Inevitably, something will go wrong on set,” Tomei said. “Seeing how people react, and how people improvise and learn in a trial by fire where it’s OK to fail, that is one of the most beautiful things that I can see.”

Though the information film students are learning in the classroom is invaluable, MCM helps students put it into practice, Page said.

“The outlet to be able to apply what we were learning in the classroom and show what we can do with it instead of it just remaining in our heads, is just a great feeling,” Page said. “Otherwise the ideas just swim around in your mind like crazy.”

Though the hands-on film experience vital, Page said one of the best parts of MCM is the friendships members make.

“Some of my closest friends I’ve met through MCM,” Page said. “Anytime that you’re given the opportunity to collaborate with people, especially collaborate in an artistic way, it’s almost impossible not to build friendships.”

Staff writer Kitt Fresa can be reached at [email protected]. 

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