Montana college students can compete in filmmaking rivalry

2014-04-25T19:30:00Z 2014-05-04T18:24:42Z Montana college students can compete in filmmaking rivalryBy DAVID ERICKSON of the Missoulian

Students and fans at Montana’s two universities are used to competing against each other in athletic events, but now they will get a chance to go head to head on the big screen.

The Audience Awards, a Missoula-based startup social networking service for filmmakers and enthusiasts, is now accepting submissions for the upcoming Cat vs. Griz Student Filmmaker Competition, sponsored by the Montana Film Office and Blackstone LaunchPad, a program at UM that fosters entrepreneurship.

The winning filmmaker, determined by which film receives the most votes, will receive $1,000 from Blackstone LaunchPad.

Additionally, the top vote-getter at each school will win $250 from the Montana Film Office.

The cost to enter is $5 for students enrolled at the University of Montana, Montana State University and all other affiliate campuses. Films in any genre that are 15 minutes or less are accepted.

Students can submit their films at until June 2. The actual voting will be June 16-30. Students create a profile and get featured as a filmmaker, and then can raise money for anything film-related. According to Rod Austin of the Audience Awards, the competition will give college students the needed exposure to jump-start their filmmaking career.

The public can vote for their favorite film once a day at the same website.

Austin said this is the first time the Audience Awards has hosted a competition between the two schools.

“We’ve done a number of competitions over the last few months, but this is the first time we’ve done this,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a little rivalry between Missoula and Bozeman. They both have film and video programs. UM has a broadcast program as well as a media arts program, and Bozeman has a well-known film and video program. We really wanted to get a statewide competition going, and this seemed like a good way to get the word out and extend our reach across the state.”

Austin said that so far, UM students are lagging behind in submitting films. MSU students had submitted five as of Friday, while UM students had none.

Lou Karsen, a filmmaker from Seattle, won $300 for his film, “Shell Game,” last year. He said that competitions are a great way to get exposure.

“Competing in the Audience Awards gave our film a life and newfound exposure,” he said. “It can be a challenge to keep a short film alive and this opportunity breathed fresh air into it. For me personally, it was important to see my crew get some love online. In our case, this film was a collaborative effort and my generous team volunteered their time and ingenuity, no questions asked.”

For more information, visit or call 532-5399.

Reporter David Erickson can be reached at

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