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At Princeton, students do pretty much everything — they write novels, record albums, create viral webpages and more. While some feats can be achieved individually, others require more experience or prohibitively expensive equipment. Filmmaking is one such activity. However, about 100 students have joined forces to expand the presence of film production on campus by forming a new club, Princeton Film Productions, to take advantage of their collective experience and University support.
Princeton Film Productions (PFP) was an idea that was conceived in the last academic year, but was finally brought to life in September of 2013. Through the leadership of copresidents Dalia Katan ’15 and Mary Landon Funk ’15, the group has created two short films over the last semester. The two films, “Ganondorf” and “Child of God,” are currently in the final steps of production. Though the final release dates have yet to be determined, trailers are set to debut in the coming weeks.
The organization currently has around 100 members, and the core crew of each production consist of 10 to 15 people, according to Katan. Although each production had its own chief screenwriter, up to 25 other members contributed to the writing process of each. However, Katan also noted that PFP “[hopes] to expand [its] production teams to both make them more efficient and get more students involved — whether hands-on or just shadowing — so that more students can learn about stages of the filmmaking process.”
In future semesters, PFP hopes to give students more exposure to production by bringing professionals from the entertainment industry to campus as guest speakers. Furthermore, a new shadowing program will be implemented so that beginners can explore different aspects of filmmaking under the guidance of more experienced peers. This is all part of an effort to ensure that everyone who wants to learn more about film production can do so. By creating the shadowing program, PFP is expanding their activities to be more accessible to a larger student population, since the short films they produce only require relatively small crews.
Prior to the founding of PFP, students had the option of studying film with the Lewis Center of the Arts’ film certificate program. However, the film studies certificate requires five classes: one in film production, two in film history and two additional courses representing either category. In this way, the academic focus lies on film history rather than on the process of filmmaking.
This is where PFP comes into play. It has created an environment in which students can gain hands-on experience on set and throughout the entire production process. In the words of Katan, PFP has “created a community of filmmakers and students interested in film, bringing together various talents, experiences and resources and giving students the chance to complement one another’s talents and collaborate on film productions.”
The organization is still in its early days. Though no projects have been released yet, the group is optimistic about their future. “This group has a lot of potential to become a well-respected and renowned college production company,” creative director Cameron Johanning ’16 said. “But it is also a very ambitious project, especially given the severe lack of time that many Princeton students face.”
As a young organization, PFP is still in the process of establishing themselves logistically. However, the leadership team aims to form a group culture wherein more members can be active in production. Although the future identity of the group remains unclear, the members of PFP are committed to creating films that allow them to start “saying what needs to be said,” Funk explained.