D-Media program holds film contest


Courtesy Photo

Phillip Hopper, assistant professor of electronic media, will serve as one of two judges for the Digital Media program’s film contest.


There are 1440 minutes in one day, and these minutes often tick away before anyone even realizes it. Imagine squeezing an original, fully edited and wildly creative video profile into only 60 short seconds.

Sound like a challenge? That’s what UNI’s Digital Media program thought too. The program is sponsoring a film contest where any student across campus has the opportunity to create a one-minute video profile or portrait in the hopes of winning prizes any film-lover would covet.

First place will receive a Go Pro Hero 1080p camera that includes a head strap mount and a 32 GB SHDC card, while second and third place will be awarded a Geek Pro 2.0 Wifi HD 1080p Sports video camera.

According to Philip Hopper, assistant professor of electronic media and judge for the contest, the options and levels of creativity are limitless for the film. Students can base their films around an animal, person, place or thing. It can be nonfiction or fiction, any genre under the sun is allowed and no idea is too unique.

However, the film must not exceed 60 seconds, not including the end credits and main title. Hopper expressed how important it is, especially for those interested in digital media, to be able to foster the skills to create a concise and compressed film.

“This is a highly desirable ability in today’s media marketplace,” Hopper said.

This is the first one-minute film contest the department has held, but Hopper hopes it will catch on and will become a regular event in the future. He said that the contest will not only highlight student talent but will also showcase the newly minted digital media major with three overlapping areas of concentration: journalism, leadership and production. The contest has already sparked considerable interest, and Hopper said he has received many queries and expects many more submissions to roll in over the next few weeks.

Hopper will be judging the contest along with colleague David O’Shields, a documentary filmmaker in residence and adjunct instructor. Hopper said he is excited to watch the submissions.

“We think that there is some exceptional talent in our program and across the student body at UNI,” Hopper said.

One student who plans to submit a film into the contest is senior digital media production and interactive digital studies major Ryan McDermott. McDermott said he likes how limitless the options are for the contest. He noted that since the one-minute time limit is essentially the only big constraint, you could really take the film down whatever path you’d like.

“I’m excited for this contest,” McDermott said, “because I enjoy creative contests that allow for you to really express yourself with limitless possibilities.”

This isn’t McDermott’s first rodeo either. He has made countless films for classes, projects and just “for fun.”  He looks forward to beginning the production of this film. He said that he will be working on the project with his roommate and plans to create a horror-themed video. While they’ve thrown ideas around, the details are still in the works.

McDermott also encouraged anybody interested in filmmaking to step outside their comfort zone and dip their toes in the waters of film production. He said he personally loves seeing people pursue it and always gets a kick out of watching his friends’ films.

“Creating films outside of a classroom setting allows a lot more freedom, which can help motivate you to put forward the time and effort necessary to improve your skills as a filmmaker,” McDermott said.

Another student interested in the contest, sophomore digital media production major Joe Vizzini, said that although filmmaking is fun, it can be a long and tedious process. Vizzini said he would encourage anybody new to the filmmaking world to start their film early because it does take time to craft a great short film.

“If [students] just want to have some fun, then I think it’s a great idea [to enter the contest],” Vizzini said. “I would also warn anyone who hasn’t really made any films before that making a film is very time consuming and can be frustrating at times.”

All submissions must be emailed to Hopper by March 9, and winners will be announced on March 30 at the Digital Media Program Kickoff event.