A film festival for all!

CPC student filmmaker channels her and others’ creativity into a first-of-its-kind exhibition

Portrait of Jenelle Dulack

By Jenelle Dulack

Knightly News Reporter


Consider all the possibilities that can arise if more events were student-organized.

Students on the ground level get to see all the missed potential, the untouched aspects, of student life that are neglected daily.

By being given the opportunity to create something from scratch, students can take their passions and turn them into shareable moments, which is what I’ve been doing over the last three months.

Projects in corporate communications is a 400-level class, primarily taken by corporate communications students who are nearing the end of their time at Central Penn. The curriculum is determined by the individual interests of each student, who are required to engage in their community, be that school, work, nonprofits or otherwise.

How might they engage?

That’s up to them!

Some chose to create social content, and others helped companies fundraise.

I decided to create the first-ever film festival at Central Penn College, themed “The Stories of We.”

In the past, I have created documentaries on two different Harrisburg celebrities. Through the experience, creating videos has become a favorite activity of mine. I made an impassioned plea to The Knightly News Media Club to consider holding a film festival, and my idea was well received. I was given a budget for food, but the rest of the event was up to me to decide. Just how I like it.

Luckily, I have experience curating an event almost entirely alone, but this one was quite a task and a half. I had to start at square one: Who’s going to attend this event? I decided to make this event an honorable one to attend, and the first step was making the event invitation-only. Each prospective guest received a handwritten letter, a simple idea that meant a lot to the people who received one. They were informed that the event would be held on Sept. 14 from noon – 2 p.m. in the Central Penn College Conference Center, and that they were expected to arrive in semiformal attire, hopefully making the event one for the CPC history books!

With my guests decided and confirmed, I moved on to advertising my event to other people, particularly those who may want to submit a film. I reached out to communications majors, athletes, staff members, Knight Way (student-events video series and club) members and many others, encouraging them to create their own two-minute-long film to be screened during the festival. A handful of students were excited by the chance they’d been given to express themselves creatively and ran with my limited guidelines. 

Some students, including myself, have taken the course called current strategies in electronic media programming, in which students are expected to make a mini-documentary on a topic of their choosing. Because this class ran during the same term as the film festival, I wanted to screen those films, too. Why put so much work and effort into a video if no one gets to see it?

The last group of people to submit their films to the festival were students of Janet Bixler’s CPC foundations class. Each professor teaches the class with a different theme in mind, and Bixler is always a fan of creative expression paired with self-discovery. Keeping these two topics in mind, I taught two of her classes on two separate days about how to make a film, from preproduction to finished product. Those who needed a bit more assistance were given the chance to meet with me one-on-one to strategize how to visually represent their growth and stories.

But there is a lot more to a film festival than just playing videos on a screen. I needed to think about feeding my attendees and determining the table arrangements, all while being mindful of my budget. Chef Dave Letizia worked with me to figure out the best options for a slightly upscale luncheon without going over my max.

To incentivize and reward the filmmakers, a committee of Knightly News members formed to decide which filmmaker deserved one of the many awards we planned to give at the end of the event.

This experience was all about celebrating the filmmaking process, formally acknowledging the amount of work put into each film and showing appreciation to the people who’ve supported the filmmakers along the way. After being put through 10,000 phone calls, 1,000 hours of video editing and 100 clips to sort through, filmmakers deserve the chance for their work to be seen and praised. 

Through the Projects in Corporate Communications class, I have handed the spotlight to the other magnificently creative students who may not have the outlet to express their artistry. The students who’ve participated are not the ones you’d expect. They’re physical therapy assistant students who’ve hardly touched a real camera, and business majors with hard exteriors, but inside, have much wisdom to share.

No one should need permission to express themselves; the proper outlets should always be available.

Creating this film festival is the first step to opening more doors for imaginative, experimental and hands-on learning.

Editor’s note: Dulack produced this story as part of Professor Paul Miller’s projects in corporate communications course this term. Jen has a general blog, and one devoted to her photography and videography.

Have a comment or story idea? Contact KnightlyEditors@CentralPenn.Edu.

Edited by media-club co-adviser and blog editor Professor Michael Lear-Olimpi.