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April 9, 2008

Student filmmakers compete for prizes in Digital Cinema Contest

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Fourteen short films created by Purdue University students will be shown at Wabash Landing 9 Theater on Thursday (April 17) as part of the Digital Learning Collaboratory’s sixth annual Digital Cinema Contest.

Tickets are free and available that evening at the theater, located at 300 E. State St., West Lafayette. Doors open at 5 p.m., and the awards ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Awards will be given for the best film in each of four categories -- alternative, animation, documentary, and narrative -- as well as for best director, actor/actress, score, cinematography, original story, and special features plus a viewer’s choice. A faculty panel and students participating in a film class on campus judged the films.

Prizes include food, video production hardware and software and cash for the top finishers.

“We enjoy providing this opportunity for student filmmakers to showcase their work,” said Kevin O’Shea, contest organizer and coordinator of the Digital Learning Collaboratory. “But it’s more than just a competition. The DLC staff members offer support and assistance to make this a valuable learning experience for students.”

This year’s contest had a modified format to make the most of the educational opportunity. To be eligible for top prizes, students were required to “pitch” their film ideas to Purdue’s information technology and libraries staff for guidance and feedback. Several pitch nights were held throughout the fall and spring semesters, with more than 25 students attending. 

“We wanted to encourage students to have a plan for their films to improve the quality of their finished products,” said John Fritch, associate professor of library science and the collaboratory's reference and instruction librarian. “The reviewers offered suggestions for how to improve the story line and develop characters to increase each student’s chances for winning top prizes.”

Tyler Kupferer, a senior in computer graphics technology and last year’s winner for best animation, was a fan of the new format.

“I was initially worried that the pitching might discourage some filmmakers from entering the contest,” he said. “Instead, what I saw is an obvious increase in the consideration and thought going into the films being made for the competition, which no doubt will help the overall quality of the final submissions.”

The awards ceremony also will have a new format. The winning film will be shown after each award is presented. Films range in length from 30 seconds to seven minutes.

“The contest has continuously grown and improved each year,” O’Shea said. “We’re looking forward to finding more ways to encourage student filmmakers to develop their skills and use Purdue resources to make successful films.”

A past Digital Cinema Contest participant won a National Student Academy Award, and the contest continues to inspire students to pursue film professionally.

 “Because of my success last year in the Digital Cinema Contest and my progress preparing for the contest this year, I have decided to pursue film and television as a career path,” Kupferer said. “The contest has played a major role in encouraging me to experiment with this art form, and subsequently discover my potential.”

More information about the contest and links to previous years' entries are available online at

O’Shea cautions that the films have not been rated and advises viewer discretion. The films may contain adult language and violence.

Writer: Jim Bush, (765) 494-2077,

Sources: Kevin O'Shea, (765) 496-2875, 

John Fritch, (765) 494-6735,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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