A New Film Festival is Born at USF

The April 5 festival gala and screening of winning entries will showcase the emergence of a new genre that unites dance and film.

Dance.Film.Revolution founder Sharon McCaman is working around the clock to fill seats for Saturday's first-ever students-only gala film festival 
devoted to the emerging genre of dance for the camera.                                                                                  Photo by Aimee Blodgett | USF News

By Barbara Melendez

      USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (March 31, 2014) – Welcome to the birth of the world’s newest film festival. Devoted to an emerging genre, the first annual Dance Shorts Student Film Festival was brought into being at USF by Sharon McCaman, a junior in the School of Theatre & Dance and the new student organization she founded: Dance.Film.Revolution.

With the support of Dance USF, the festival is getting off to a great start. Just starting out, 29 students from all over the United States submitted their short dance films to compete for recognition. They came in from USF students and students as far away as Ohio, California, New Jersey and Wisconsin.

The winning submissions will be screened April 5 at a gala celebration in the USF School of Music Concert Hall in Tampa. Tickets are $7 for students and $10 to the general public. Tickets to the film gala can be purchased online in advance through Ticketmaster or on the day of the show at the Concert Hall box office. Cash awards will be given to the best films. The gala starts at 7:30 p.m.

McCaman is encouraging all artistically inclined people to attend – dancers, filmmakers, musicians and those who love the arts in general.

A scene from the film "Convulse," submitted by Jason Wissman, Principia College, the film's director, choreographer, costumer, set and scene designer. His cinematographer was Katie Stanley.

“Anybody can come and be entertained,” she said. “There’s hip hop, there’s ballet, there’s modern, they run the gamut. And the films are fantastic! I’m so impressed, so inspired.”

We can thank today’s technology for this new way of seeing dance. Combine an artistic vision with music, lights, costumes, and any available location, digital cameras and editing systems and the Internet as a distribution system and a new form of dance is possible.

“This represents an evolution in choreography, performance, and dance production,” McCaman said. “In essence, dance for camera becomes limitless in the possibilities for creative integration of multiple art forms. What we have now is a generation of up-and-coming ‘techno-choreographers and the festival provides an outlet for sharing their choreographic visions of dance on camera with the world.

It all started with a dance course.

“In my modern dance class, we were required to watch a video a week on the Internet and keep performance journals,” she said. “Initially, I had no idea what was out there. This genre is in the process of emerging out of our culture. I got inspired and intrigued.”


A scene from the film "Midnight Flirt," submitted by Cara Maiatico, DeSales University. The directors were Philip Jampo and Ales Trine, the choreographer, Brenna Bajor and Jampo also served as cinematographer.

As McCaman discovered more and more work created “with no intention of being performed before an audience.” Once the class ended, she decided to use her iPad to film her own projects. From there, the next step came naturally to her.

I was passionate about creating these films, that’s when I got so excited. Why not give other people the opportunity to show their work?” she said. “As an artist, I’m always conceptualizing projects, choreographing, always participating in creative efforts, never shutting off so this project was something of a natural progression.

“The beauty of creating dance for camera instead of the stage is that it preserves the work so it can be distributed and viewed by a global audience for many years to come. Film provides a vehicle for creative expression which is not possible on the stage alone. Typically, stage performances can take weeks, months, even years to produce, and are usually seen by relatively few people and for a limited period of time.”

The following semester she ran her idea for a festival past her advisor, dance faculty member Andee Scott, a choreographer and interdisciplinary artist.

“She was extremely encouraging,” McCaman said.

For her part, Scott said, "I thought her idea was fantastic! The festival is a great way to connect students from all over the country whoa re working the genre of dace for camera. It is a way to share the work that people are making and by doing so, push the genre forward. It is very easy to feel like we are working in isolation and this festival is a beautiful way to create community among peopel who are exploring a relatively new genre."

After doing extensive investigation and research she found there were only a few film festivals geared toward professional dancers but nothing solely for students. She saw the need to start a student organization that would keep the festival going beyond her tenure at USF and Dance.Film.Revolution, became a reality. Open to all students in all disciplines, the organization’s goal is strictly to produce the film festival.

When she isn’t putting in countless hours attending to countless details, finding answers in her binder and computer loaded with spreadsheets and documents of all kinds, McCaman is spending her time raising awareness about the festival everywhere she goes and raising support.

She wants everyone to know that you don’t have to be a dancer to enter. “I want to get students of all kinds to consider what they can do.”

Undergraduate and graduate students – ”a whole class, in fact” – can submit works between two and six minutes in length. There will be 14 chosen. Once the festival ends, the selected films will live on well into the future by providing a means to create an historical archive.

“The archive will constitute a living body of real-time research data for documenting the change over time of the intersection of dance and film,” said McCaman. “Following the gala, the archived films will be posted online for future viewing.”

On the fundraising side, McCaman is equally tireless. In addition to USF College of The Arts and the Office of Undergraduate Research, she has received support from Hampton Arts Management, the Gobioff Foundation and several individual donations.

A scene from the film "multiverse theory,"submitted by Thomas McGowan, USF, directed by Roy Holt, with choreography and solo performance by McGowan. Holt and Nathan Sackovich were the cinematographers.

“This event is completely student driven,” she said. “So we’re looking for prize donations and the resources to establish this festival. It really has the potential to be quite large. There are still many in the dance community who haven’t been exposed to it yet, but whenever they hear about it, the want to know more and get involved.”

For more information and to make donations, contact McCaman at sharon@danceshortsfestival.com or click here This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

After receiving her associate’s degree from St. Petersburg College, McCaman transferred to USF. Now a junior, she will earn her BFA in dance but is still deciding between modern and ballet. “I love both and do both every day,” she said. “I hope dance students everywhere will be doing what they love and getting projects ready for next year’s March deadline and that next year’s gala will be even more spectacular than this year’s – we’re counting on seeing lots of our friends this Saturday.”

Her advisor, Scott, shares her confidence.

"Sharon is a very determined and ambitious young woman who not only had a great idae, but also had the ability to see it to fruition," she said. "What she has done is remarkable, given that she is a also a full-time student. I believe she is carving a niche both for herself and the genre for dance for camera here in Florida. As the first iteration, this festival has already been a success and I am excited to think of how it will gain traction in years to come."

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563