University Film Organization

UO students gather together to express their filmmaking creativity

Students working on one of the UFO’s yearly production. (Photo: University Film Organization)

By UO student Chelsea Fullmer

Lights. Camera. Action.

This signature catchphrase, while possibly overused, lets a film crew know to get to work. And students in the cinema studies department and University Film Organization work together to produce short films and projects across campus, hoping to share their work with other filmmakers and creatives across the globe.

Laura Mahaffy (Director of Photography), Sam
Stendal (Executive Producer), Aaron Blanton
(Director), Megan Grall (Producer) of ‘HIT ME,’
a 2013 spring UFO production.

The cinema studies major is a program within the School of Allied Arts and Architecture, College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Journalism and Communication, with students taking classes across all three. Within the cinema studies program is the University Film Organization (UFO); a student-led collaboration striving to learn more, encourage one another, and produce cinema works for continuous portfolio building.

The UFO meets every week while school is in session to focus on specific elements in the cinema realm such as lighting, sound, editing, pitching and much more. Most sessions are student-led, with additional lectures and Skype sessions from invited professionals.

“We try to offer a wide variety of workshops each year,” says Katharine Rohrich, a junior and the UFO’s Public Relations officer. “One of our officers heard someone say they didn’t know how to pitch a show or movie script, so a couple weeks later we had found an industry professional who pitches shows for a living to talk to us and explain more! It’s awesome to provide the kinds of things that our members want to supplement what might be missing in some of their classes.”

The UFO began a few years ago as an outlet for students interested in cinema and film an opportunity to learn more and meet other students with the same interests. While the majority of the 40-60 members of the UFO are cinema studies majors, the club is open to all students wishing to expand their filmmaking skills.

“There weren’t many opportunities for students to really get behind the camera, and that was the original goal – to enable students to have experiences in college that will translate later when they are starting their careers,” says Rohrich.

Three years ago, the club had fewer than 10 members. With the help from former UFO president, Aaron Blanton ’13, the group has grown exponentially and has been able to purchase equipment. The group hosts bake sales to fund its efforts, and recruits new members at UO Orientation events such as IntroDUCKtion and Week of Welcome. The club also puts together a film festival at the end of each year, screening and celebrating student work.

“We have come very far in the past three years, thanks to a lot of hard working members of our organization who were passionate enough to fight for our organization and help us raise enough money to purchase our own equipment,” said current UFO President Samantha Stendal, a junior.

Students collaborate to produce short films within the program, serve departments on campus requiring videography, and assist one other with individual projects, through story ideas and additional crew work.

The UFO continues grow and provide an outlet for students

“I’ve loved being a part of making the club what it is today and I hope that the club continues to set up its members for their future careers!” says Rohrich.