Alright, I’m Ready for My Close-Up: The Phoenix Film Festival

Do you sometimes feel like less of a Gene Fama and more like a Gene Hackman? Want to practice your story-writing to prepare for internship recruiting? Want to show that you’re the funniest person at Booth? Want to prove you have the most entertaining cohort? I have some good news for you.

Replacing the event known to former first-years as “Golden Gargoyles”, the inaugural Phoenix Film Festival pits cohort against cohort in a short film competition as part of the Reel Leadership Challenge. Each cohort nominates three leaders tasked with writing, directing, filming, and editing a video between 3-4 minutes in length that showcases aspects of the Booth experience. Participants received numerous resources to help them with the production, including equipment, suggested timelines, editing software training, and other tips and tricks, but still had the difficulty of juggling the planning and execution with classes and recruiting (and social events of course).

When I walked through the Winter Garden after my afternoon class and saw the room-sized Hollywood sign, I had a feeling I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Accompanied by a healthy supply of popcorn and candy, the viewing party took place in Harper Center’s room 104 and was MC’d by second years Christine Groesbeck and Randy Paris. I snuggled up next to one of my favorite second-years in Matt Robinson with a cupful of popcorn and prepared to recruit some acting and writing talent for Follies (our sketch comedy group).

The short films were critiqued by an all-star lineup of judges:

  • Melissa Harris – Founder & CEO of M. Harris & Co, a marketing agency that helps companies and executives matter more. Agency Spotter recently named her the No. 4 marketer in Chicago. She is also an executive in residence at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
  • Eddie Pulliam – Senior Associate Director for the Full-Time MBA program in the admissions office with a 15-year tenure at Booth. He is a Chicago native and a huge movie buff (he has even been an extra in a few movies!).
  • Will Gossin – Runs the social entrepreneurship and design programs at the Rustandy Center, with a six-year tenure at UChicago. He has a high bar for film quality, with a special appreciation for coherence of vision, narrative perspective, and the humane treatment of animals and students.
  • Drew Godwin – Present of the Graduate Business Council (GBC), and fellow second year. He is from New York and Philadelphia, and is a big movie buff who loves a good action movie or comedy (no horror though!).

After considerable deliberation by the judges over a few glasses of champagne and some delicious lamb lollipops, “Best Picture” was awarded to the Walker cohort for “Sabotage: Never Been Boothed” by Peter Biava, Karol Yalta Olaza, and Yuxiao Zhang, featured below.

RL 2017 Walker - Sabotage: Never Been Boothed

Feel free to visit the REEL Leadership YouTube channel for the films from the rest of the cohorts. If I was a judge and I was forced to give out a “Best Performance” award, I don’t know if I would be able to choose between Francisco Fuchslin for his starring role in Bond’s “A Tale of Two Boothies” and Naj Wahab for his knife-licking and voice modulation skills featured in the winning film.

Thanks to the amazing team of second-year LEAD facilitators for taking the initiative to create and organize this entirely new 500+ person event, including Taylor Carson, Rasika Chakravarthy, Trista Li, Lauren Paz, and Christa Smyth.

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