Concentration rung heavy in the room. All eyes were locked onto their computer screens. It was a Tuesday night in the Cinema Studies Lab on the second floor of Knight Library as members of the University Film Organization practiced editing for their weekly workshop. Over in the far left corner of the room, a few other members set up film equipment.

The UFO is a campus club of students who write and produce short films. Students involved learn a broad range of different skills to help prepare them for entering the film industry. This year, UFO will be showing three short films at their annual gala near the end of spring term. The actual date of the gala is still yet to be determined. Last Friday, UFO partnered with Cinema Studies and toured LAIKA, an animation studio in Portland.

“We’re such equipment snobs here,” President of UFO, Sam Stendal said as she adjusted film lighting on a tripod.

Felicia Maunu, a cinema studies measure and current treasurer of UFO, joined UFO during the first week of her freshman year of college. Since, UFO has grown significantly, she says, increasing from 10 people to about 40, in the last three years. The club has also become more independent since winning a $10,000 grant for writing, producing and acting in a Hyundai commercial, back in fall term. The money went toward purchasing new equipment. @@

Not only has UFO given Maunu hands on experience, it has also prepared her in multiple ways for the film industry by allowing her explore different departments within the making of a film. She has helped with the both the art and production of films.

Currently, Maunu is the executive producer for “Danger Prom,” a film in pre-production.

“(UFO has) made my (college) experience what it is,” Maunu said. “It’s given me some expectations for myself. It’s made me who I am right now. (UFO has) helped me find an outlet. School can be so stressful for everyone. And this organization has just given me the ability to imagine more and learn about myself. It helped form my values and helped me learn the skills I’m best at.”

Maunu said it is a different atmosphere working on films in UFO than in class because students are doing it for the fun of it instead of focusing on a good grade.

Stendal said UFO gives all of it’s members similar exposure to important skills that will prepare them for the film industry.

“We offer something at this University that’s unique,” Stendal said. “Everyone has these different ideas and interests and they come in and bring something new to the table.”

Director of Cinema Studies, Michael Aronson, who is also the faculty adviser for UFO, said although the Cinema Studies program here at UO blends critical skills and creative work, it is not a professional school. Regardless, it gives students the chance to network with industry professionals, work with a crew instead of on individual class projects and “practice skill sets (students) will use in the real world.” @@

“(UFO is) a success story,” Aronson said. “It’s an example of how (UO) students take charge of what they want.”

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