Story by: Alex Wallachy

Photos provided by: University Film Organization

The UFO can no longer be ignored. Sure it has been sighted in the past, but in the last two years the UFO has been gaining momentum. Probing the public, searching far and wide for new subjects, steadily becoming a real and permanent part of campus. The University Film Organization (UFO) is indeed out of this world; UFO isn’t any old film club.

This year’s University Film Organization’s Second Annual Spring Film Festival takes place Friday, May 31st at 6pm in Lawrence 177. Though UFO has been around a while, the organization has expanded rapidly the last few years due to the dedicated work of its members.

The film festival itself is a reflection of the great work that the UFO has been doing at the University of Oregon.  The design of the film festival is simple. The only requirement to submit a film, of any length, is to be a University of Oregon student. The six student officers decide the film festival’s selection; the group packs as many films as possible into the two-hour festival slot. The audience will decide the winning film.

The UFO offers hands on experience to University of Oregon students who may not otherwise have the opportunity. The group puts on weekly workshops on technical skills like lighting and conducts Skype interviews with industry professionals.

The freedom from restrictions sets the UFO apart from other campus film organizations and the lack of rules is a testament to the club’s inclusivity. The UFO allows students to submit films of any length, genre and style. According Sam Stendal, UFO event coordinator and incoming UFO president, the organization, “is all about fun and the creative process.”  Stendal recently gained University of Oregon notoriety for the post Steubenville PSA, “A Needed Response.”

Although there is a lot of freedom in the festival, it’s not to say that the organization isn’t serious about film. These student filmmakers experience the same eight plus hour shoots as other industry professionals and do real ‘grown-up’ things like paying to shoot on location and working on a budget.

Stendal and other members of the club have been hard at work fundraising and calling production companies begging for old equipment. Students are creating a self-sustaining organization, which wasn’t always the case.

“We used to have one camera, and it was the president’s,” explained Stendal. So when he graduated with his camera, the organization had to evolve. And evolve they did.

Last year, the group produced two films. This year, the group is producing two films per term, although they admit that there have been some holdups with the winter term lineup. UFO student officer Meghan Grall emphasizes that students didn’t come to the University of Oregon for the club so it’s important to be flexible. The UFO wants to be a resource for students.

The club is about more than technical skills and film festivals. The UFO gives students the opportunity to learn collaboration and teamwork.

As Meghan puts it, “There’s no way you’re going to make it in the film industry if you can’t work with others.”

If you’ve ever searched for the University Film Organization online, and successfully made it past alien abduction theories, you’ll notice that UFO deals almost exclusively in social media. Just another way that UFO is adapting with the times.

The UFO is clearly picking up speed. Adding to the club’s potential is the increase in the UFO’s 2013-2014 ASUO budget. Expect to see the UFO prominently hovering on the horizon. Get ‘beamed up’ by the UFO Friday, May 31 at the University Film Organization’s Spring Film Festival.