Student filmmakers earned recognition at the 2024 College Movie Festival

For more than 20 Cincinnati State students, Spring Semester 2024 activities included making movies to enter in College Movie Festival 2024.

Three teams of Cincinnati State student filmmakers competed, and one of the short movies, “Fishbowl,” earned the “Official Selection” designation and a spot in the March 2025 Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival, the nation’s first diversity film festival led by people in the disability community.

The selection was announced by tt stern-enzi, Artistic Director of the OTR International Film Festival.

College Movie Festival participants seen in photo above: (From left, back row) Dave Killen (AVP Program Chair), Shelby McFerron, Sam Watson, Carly Hellmann, Anna Mairose, tt stern-enzi (Artistic Director, OTR International Film Festival), Tom Barrett. (Front row) Carly Baker and Emma Clark.

“Fishbowl,” also won the College Movie Festival award for Best Use of Required Elements.

The 7-minute movie “Fishbowl” tells a story about achieving mental health. The film features professional actor Caitlyn McWethey, a non-degree seeking student at Cincinnati State, who enrolled in Audio/Video Production classes to enhance her work as a voice-over actor.

The other actor in “Fishbowl” is former TV news reporter and documentary filmmaker Laure Quinlivan, who was recruited by student director Sam Watson, since Quinlivan previously was Sam’s internship employer.

Thirteen other teams competed in the Festival, representing the University of Cincinnati (Main Campus and Clermont Campus), Xavier University, and Northern Kentucky University.

Audio/Video Production (AVP) Program Chair Dave Killen, a co-founder of the College Movie Festival, and AVP instructor Jeff Winkelman worked with the students during the three months of Festival activities, starting in February 2024 and continuing until the movie screening and awards event on April 20 at AMC West Chester theater.

Over 300 students, friends, and family members attended the screening. “Hermit,” a film by NKU students, won the 2024 Judges Choice award. (Click to see a list of all award recipients)

Dave said participating Cincinnati State students included several who were in their second year or near graduation, as well as a first-semester student in the “Introduction to AVP” class who asked how she could get involved.

“All students are welcome,” Dave said. “I told her a student just getting started in the degree would have plenty to learn, but our ‘newbie’ jumped right in and contributed to her award-winning team.”

  • Starting immediately after the Festival kick-off on February 15, students had 8 days to write a screenplay and create a production schedule for a movie of no more than 7 minutes in length.
  • After their plan was approved, the students had 10 days to shoot and edit an initial version of their film to be pre-screened by a panel of industry professionals. On March 24, all of the student teams and 18 professionals from the production community met at Northern Kentucky University so the students could receive feedback and advice.
  • Then, the students had another week to revise their movies before final submission.

The theme for this year’s films was “Human Connection” and each team had to incorporate a mandatory line of dialogue into their script: “I’d rather you just tell me.”

“This year’s theme really resonated with the partnership–now in its second year–between the College Movie Festival and the Over-the-Rhine International Film Festival,” Dave said.

The international film festival’s mission is to “share untold stories that celebrate our shared humanity.” This festival has been recognized by MovieMaker Magazine as one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World.”

The Cincinnati State student team responsible for “Fishbowl” included:

  • Sam Watson, Director & Editor
  • Carly Baker, Producer & Sound
  • Carly Hellmann, Producer
  • Jayson Warner, Writer
  • Shelby McFerron, Camera Operator
  • Emma Clark, Makeup & Wardrobe
  • Anna Mairose, Makeup & Wardrobe
  • Delia Thomas, Sound
  • Caitlyn McWethey, Actor
  • AVP alumnus Tom Barrett served as “graduate mentor” for the team. College Movie Festival rules allow two-year colleges to use graduates to assist with movie production, but they may not serve in any of the primary filmmaking roles.