“Mini” Golden Horse Awards - UST micro movie contest shows huge potential of Taiwanese students



Emerging culture – micro movies
Micro movies have developed into a new fashion in Taiwan’s film industry in recent years. They generally come in at under 10 minutes but usually still manage to impress or leave an impact on the audience. This type of low-cost micro movie is growing in popularity. For young directors, micro movies present unprecedented opportunities. Anyone with a video camera today can make a movie, publish it online, and get fame fast, as long as it can get a crowd of people talking about it.

With Taiwan’s smartphone penetration exceeding 50 percent and wide coverage for unlimited data roaming, micro movies easily meet the entertainment needs of commuters who want to watch a short film while on the go. That does a lot to explain the micro movie fad island-wide.

UST’s “mini” Golden Horse Awards for Micro Movies

As shooting a micro movie is much less time- and money-consuming, many college students in Taiwan have started making micro movies in order to hang on to their images of school life. Aware of this fad, the University System of Taiwan (UST) rolled out a micro-movie competition during the summer, selected the best entries with high ratings in filming skill, creativity, and structure.

After two weeks of online voting and expert reviews, first prize went to “Swing NCU,” directed by a senior at National Central University (NCU). “Swing NCU” is a musical carnival-like micro movie with a light-hearted touch which crunches four years of school life into a well-knit three-minute movie, starting the show with a bunch of students pacing up for morning classes and ending with them dressing up for a graduate group photo shoot, mostly in the Charleston Stroll dancing style.

Second prize went to “Love in UST,” directed by a senior medical student at National Yang-Ming University (NYMU). The whole structure of this film is connected by a fine-quality self-composed song and portrays a fictional love story that takes place on a UST school bus. This micro movie displays all the sightseeing spotlights of top schools under the UST school system, including National Tsing Hua University (NTHU), National Chiao Tung University (NCTU), NCU, and NYMU in a humorous three-minute film.

Broadway Vintage of Swing Classics

The biggest prize in the UST micro movie competition goes to “Swing NCU.” In addition to directing the movie, Lin Kai-sheng林楷晟, co-director of this award-winning film, was also in charge of choreography. In an interview, Lin said his motivation for shooting this film was to preserve some good memories of the last days of school and to pass it down to juniors of the college dance club he belongs to. Lin also noted that the movie and dancing movements are inspired by the Charleston Stroll which originated in the 1923 Broadway musical “Runnin’ Wild” with music by James P. Johnson.

In this movie, dozens of college students danced the Charleston Stroll together in a variety of locations, including the library, school buildings and a food court. Each stands for a different part of school life: students rush to school in the morning, study in the library and in the classroom, and have lunch or something to drink at the food court. Some students also danced in the rain, holding umbrellas in different bright colors that remind us to keep our chin up despite headwinds. At the end of this micro movie, graduates wear gowns and caps for a group photo shoot, symbolizing the end of college life.

Using improv as a screenwriting tool

“Love in UST,” a film depicting the love life of a daydreaming medical school student, ranked second in this micro movie contest and relies heavily on skills in improvisation. In this movie, a male medical school student daydreams that he meets a girl from NCU on the school bus. Director Lai Yen-Ho賴彥合treated the film organically, allowing it to develop spontaneously sometimes. Besides, Lai considered the song to be the soul of the movie, thus he took part in its creation. Lai wrote the lyrics of the song himself, and another classmate surnamed Tseng composed the music. They even went to a professional recording studio in the hope of achieving good narration as well as a high-quality acoustic performance at the same time.

Lai said in an interview that his team shot the film not only at his own school NYMU but also at other campuses in the UST school system. In the movie, two stuffed animals were personalized, and both took campus tours around popular spots such as a modern library and a temple at NTHU, and a gym at NCTU. Director Lai spontaneously put different cuts together into a complete story. The movie flows smoothly from one scene to another in a very professional manner.

The 2013 Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival just ended on November 28, honoring excellent films, actors, and movie professionals from the Chinese-speaking world. In the 2013 UST micro-movie competition, students were encouraged to show their talents, creativity, and dynamics through film creations. This event not only helps the world see the unlimited potential of Taiwanese college students, it also lets us find greater possibilities in the development of Taiwan’s micro-movie art industry.

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