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MIRC ACE winners create distinctly different films

Aug 7, 2013 8:19 AM
Students Julia Fuller, at left, and William Campbell, below, describe their film projects in very different ways. Fuller calls hers “funny, fake documentary.” Campbell calls his “dark and moody.” Moving Image Research Collections calls both films winners of the Award for Creative Editing (MIRC ACE).

The MIRC ACE celebrates innovative use of archival film footage in Media Arts 371: The Moving Image, a course that introduces undergraduates to all aspects of film and video production. Students are given archival footage from the University Libraries’ Fox Movietone News Collection and instructed to complete one-minute-long films.

The course assignment is about learning how to make connections visually, said Dr. Jennifer Tarr, who was Fuller’s instructor.

“We want students to learn to use formal elements, as well as rhythm and motion, to make connections between the different pieces of film,” said Tarr, who has taught the course for five years. Each student has access to the same clips.

Fuller, whose film “The RRATNEJ Invasion” won the Fall 2012 MIRC ACE, is a rising junior in media arts and English.

“We were told to take these various clips and make a cohesive film,” she said. “It took a long time for me to come up with the storyline, but after that it was fairly easy. I really enjoyed the editing process and taking something out of context and making it into something completely different.”

Fuller created a fake documentary about America being invaded by the natives of RRATNEJ.

“It is supposed to look serious, but not really,” she said. “I did a voiceover in a fake British accent, and at one point I even have forward-marching soldiers march backwards in the film, so it is funny. I didn’t want anyone to think I was making fun of history, or leaders, or the nation, so I was careful in my approach to it.

“Oh, and the title – ‘The RRATNEJ Invasion’ -- came from my instructor’s name, Jen Tarr, spelled backwards,” she said.

Campbell, whose film “Knowledge” won the Spring 2013 MIRC ACE, is a rising senior in media arts. MART 371 was his first editing class and his winning film was his first editing project.

The opening scene of Campbell’s film shows a solid brick wall emblazoned with a famous quote from U.S. President James Madison: “A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which gives knowledge.”

“As I was looking through the clips, I saw this one and it reminded me of the old adage ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely,’ and I started thinking about that,” Campbell said. “Then I plugged the word ‘knowledge’ into that quote instead of ‘power,’ and I kept thinking about it from there. When I started putting my film together, it changed over time and followed my thinking.”

There is no narration to Campbell’s piece, just ambient noise over music. The resulting eerie, emotive soundtrack sets the stage for what he says is a meaning deliberately left open to interpretation.

“You could look at ‘Knowledge’ and think ‘Wow, this is simple and straightforward.’ Or you could look at it and think, ‘This is very complex and I need to study it a while.’ I think it is probably more on the dark and moody side.”

Fuller's video can be viewed at

Campbell's video can be viewed at

Read about past MIRC ACE winners at

A unit of the University Libraries, MIRC welcomes use of its collections. Located at 707 Catawba Street, MIRC is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Over 2,000 hours of rare archival material are available to view on videocassette and DVD.