Student Finds Festival Success with Silent Film

When Erica MacLeod came to Full Sail to pursue a degree in Creative Writing, she never expected to also end up in the Film Production MFA program. A course in screenwriting exposed her to the world of writing and directing as well as a new career path. She wrote and directed the short film Up in the Air for her Experimental Filmmaking class, which has been accepted to five film festivals just two months before she graduates.

The two-and-a-half-minute film tells the story of a street performer who specializes in balloon animals, and follows his attempts to catch the interest of a young woman. In that short amount of time, Erica is able to capture the hearts of viewers and connect them with these whimsical characters – all without any dialogue. The entire film is silent except for music that plays in the background, which is one of the reasons Erica feels her first film festival submission has been so successful.

“It’s amazing to have an idea and watch it come to life. I wrote it, but we had a whole team work together to make it happen. As a writer, I really don’t know how to describe how it feels!” she laughs.

When applying to festivals, Erica reviewed the criteria of what each festival was looking for instead of just applying to as many as possible. She has submitted Up in the Air to about 12 different festivals, and is still waiting to hear back from about half of them. She also chose to submit to some festivals that specifically highlight female directors and writers.

After having learned a great deal from her first experience in filmmaking and how to apply to festivals, Erica is continuing her work and currently has two other films in production. She will be submitting them to festivals in the future, one of which she directed for her graduating class’s thesis film project. “Once you finish one project, start on another,” she advises. “Keep writing; that’s my trick.” After graduating this November, she hopes to work in television in the crime drama genre.

Photo by Syretta Tucker



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