For 144 hours, student filmmakers shoot and edit their videos, ones they have been preparing for months, writing scripts and working with actors and musicians.
Students are given six days to complete a five-minute video for the IU Campus MovieFest competition every spring. These 144 hours are the only time the students can work on filming or editing for the competition.
IU student filmmaker Chandler Swan and his partner Brendan Elmore took turns sleeping on a makeshift bed of three chairs in Wells Library while the two edited their video for last year’s competition.
Their movie, “Under Euclid’s Watch,” is a drama about a young prodigy who is on the verge of a mathematical discovery.
In the same library where the drama was being edited, IU student Ben Tamir Rothenberg was creating a very different production — an infomercial for toilet paper called “SheetWOW.”
Little did these filmmakers know, the two movies would both be selected for a screening at the Cannes Film Festival in France this summer.
At the film showing for Campus MovieFest a few days after the videographers finished editing, “Under Euclid’s Watch” won Best Picture and Best Cinematography. “SheetWOW” won Best Comedy.
Four films from each campus are selected to be shown in Hollywood after every competition.
Because of their awards, Rothenberg, Swan and Elmore traveled to California for the screening.
It was here that Swan and Elmore met Rothenberg.
The three were recently informed that their films will screen at this year’s Cannes Film
This film festival is one of the most prestigious in the world and shows films from Meryl Streep, George Clooney and Steven Spielberg, Swan said.
Only one film created by 21- and 22 year-olds has been shown at the Cannes Film Festival before, Swan said, so this screening is a huge accomplishment for the student filmmakers.
Swan and Elmore first met through their fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, when Swan had been selected to receive an award for cinematography work he completed with his father. Elmore interviewed him about the award and the two started working together soon after that.
Both filmmakers began creating videos from a young age.
Swan began making films when he was given a Digital Blue camera at the age of eight. His father works for a news channel, he said, and his mother works for
Paramount Pictures, so the interest was always there.
Elmore remembers shooting videos with his uncle’s camera before shooting a horror movie with his brother in second grade.
His freshman year at IU, Elmore met a senior in his fraternity that was participating in Campus MovieFest.
“I had no idea what I was getting into,” he said. “But it was a great learning
These experiences helped lead up to the success of “Under Euclid’s Watch.”
The two met many challenges reserving spaces and lighting their scenes when making the movie, but Elmore said it was all worth it when they finally saw it screen at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater and eventually in Hollywood.
Rothenberg said he watched hundreds of infomercials every day in order to prepare for the six days of shooting.
“The film gives the viewer this weird feeling because it looks really professional, but it’s about poop,” Rothenberg said.
Most of the movies he makes are graphic, he said, and showing them to his family always makes for interesting responses.
“I showed it to my grandma and she said, ‘Ben, I love you, but you’re not winning anything there,’” Rothenberg said.
All of the work Rothenberg put in made for an award-winning film, but it didn’t come without dedication.
“If you want to make a good film, you just have to stop going to school,” Rothenberg said. “I just stopped going to classes eventually. It was more important to me.”
Rothenberg was a telecommunications major, where he said he learned all of his video-shooting skills.
Although IU doesn’t have a film school, Rothenberg is now pursuing his passion through a general studies major.
“One thing that’s really cool about these films’ success is that it shows what IU is doing without even having a film school,” he said. “We’ve won the past four years.”
Now that the campus festival and Hollywood screening are over, Rothenberg, Swan and Elmore are looking toward their preparation for Cannes.
Attending the festival and paying for expenses in France will cost each student upwards of $5,000.
The three are trying to propose to have some of these costs subsidized by the University as well as starting their own Kickstarter campaign.
The group is also working to get a variety of actors and production companies to come to the screening of their films, so they can get more publicity while they are in France.
Although the costs can be high, the group feels it is worthwhile.
“We didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to represent IU,” Rothenberg said. “We are proud Hoosiers.”
Despite the festival plans hovering over the filmmakers, all three have continued to work on other projects.
Elmore said he just finished a short film script that he hopes to begin shooting in the next few weeks and send on to other film festivals.
Swan said he has begun a script about a newscaster and the psychological effects that reporting stories about events like school shootings can have on the character and his family.
Rothenberg said he recently completed his film for this year’s Campus MovieFest called “The Rebound,” which won Best Comedy and Best Soundtrack at this year’s awards ceremony.
The musical is about a young woman who breaks up with her cheating boyfriend and hits the town with her friends.
Rothenberg is also working on a documentary called “Art Heals,” he said, which follows his mother, an artist working in St. Vincent’s Hospital. She works with cancer patients and helps them use art to communicate with people about their sickness and disabilities.
“To make a good film, you have to have good actors, good production and a good story,” Rothenberg said. “A lot of films will be missing one of them, but the good ones have all three.”
To get all three assets, the students said they look to their fellow Hoosiers.
“Because we’re students, the community really wants to help us make films,” Rothenberg said. “We want to be representing Hoosiers.”
An earlier version of this story identified Ben Tamir Rothenberg as Ben Tamir Rothenberger, and called the production "SheetWOW" an infomercial for musical toilet paper.