By Amanda Morad
August 21, 2015
Tim Cibene, Lauren Leak and Alec Wittschiebe before the final awards show at the Festival de Cannes. Photo courtesy of Alec Wittschiebe
It's not every day one travels to France, and it certainly isn't every day that one premiers a short film at one of the biggest international film festivals in the world in France. But for four students in Regent University's School of Undergraduate Studies (RSU), that's exactly what happened. The films were shown in the Short Film Corner of the Festival de Cannes among shorts from amateur and professional filmmakers from all over the globe.
Recent graduate Timothy Kay and seniors Tim Cibene, Lauren Leak and Alec Wittschiebe recently returned from the festival. Kay directed the short film The Silver Crown, for which Wittschiebe engineered sound. Cibene and Leak produced the short film Once Upon a Park Bench. Their days at Cannes were filled with card-swapping and name-dropping at a variety of events designed to facilitate making the best connections possible.
"It was more about meeting people who were at the same place I was," said Kay. "We're all trying to live the dream and start our careers and that was really cool to see."
Watch Kay's video journal of his week at Cannes.
"If you're gutsy and genuinely interested in the people around you, you can make some really awesome connections," said Leak. "Often, the kids I came into contact with aimed to rub shoulders with the big names at parties, but everyone there is worth your time. You never know who you might meet."
Leak, Cibene and Wittschiebe spent their days as interns working with Drafthouse Films, the William Morris Endeavor and Halcyon International Pictures respectively. "I made strong connections with the agents and interns I worked with," Cibene said. "While attending different parties throughout the festival, I was able to network with many major investors and filmmakers."
The students not only had a chance to make valuable connections, but learned about how filmmaking is done around the world through the International Village. The Village is an opportunity for all film-producing countries to present and promote their motion-picture industry, their culture, and their institutions, as well as develop trade with other countries.
"I think the biggest benefit of going was the opportunity to be exposed and realize that America isn't all there is," Kay explained. "There's such a benefit in working with people who don't come from the same culture you do."
Motorcycle taxis, train rides, and after parties with Alec Baldwin made the experience rich, but most importantly, these four are bringing home lasting knowledge that will help them launch the film career of their dreams. "I think the experience put me far ahead of my peers and fellow students when it comes to actual industry knowledge and experience," Leak noted.
Wittschiebe's experience helped broaden his view of producing. "There's a lot more detail to it than I had really thought about," he explained. "[In school] we never have to do things like distribution, marketing and sales, but what I learned from the festival is that, once you get the film made, only half your job as a producer is over."
Kay was able to connect with more student and up-and-coming filmmakers during his day in the Short Film Corner and saw his fair share of shorts films. "From what I saw, we were up there with the best of them, so I definitely credit that to Regent and to the professors, the programs, the training and access to equipment that we have here," he said. "I was really proud and impressed with the quality of material Regent was able to bring."
Learn more about RSU's Cinema-Television program.