The annual 100 Words Film Festival challenges talented filmmakers from around the world to deliver compelling tales using exactly 100 words. The strict parameters are not easy to work with, but UNC Charlotte student and filmmaker Mark Borja took on the challenge, with two films chosen for screening at the November 2014 festival.
Borja’s first film in the festival, Read All About It, took on the task of working with a non-profit to showcase a cause. He and his teammates developed a music video sponsored by and shot at the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. The film included Lego stop motion video and sports figures such as Phil Ford and John Swofford, with the goal of encouraging children to read. The team’s second film, Once More Around the Sun, explored personal struggles and relationships.
While the film did not win in the student category, the experience provided Borja a powerful opportunity to grow and to share with others.
“I hope people make a connection, a true connection and an understanding,” he said. “We want to share the idea of surpassing struggles in our films. We did a lot with cinematography and tried our best to make it really different.”
As a pre-communication studies major and film studies minor, Borja has been a passionate filmmaker since age 13. He has previously participated in the 48 hour festival and heard about this festival from Rodney Stringfellow, adjunct screenwriting faculty member.
“For any student who is serious about the craft of filmmaking, submitting work to festivals is crucial because it allows the work to interact with professionals and with audiences,” Stringfellow said. “This interaction will not only improve the student’s work, but it will also improve the student.”
During the 100 Words Film Festival at the McGlohon Theatre in uptown Charlotte, Borja interacted with participants ranging from Academy Award nominated directors to talented student filmmakers.
“One thing was seeing all the different films and seeing what others had done to put together their films,” Borja said. “It was awesome to think about what I can learn from what everyone else did.”
Borja’s inclusion in the 100 Words Film Festival speaks to his talent as a filmmaker, and his passion and vision, Stringfellow said. “I couldn’t be more proud,” he said. “Mark’s efforts illustrate what I hope all of my students will do: take their work outside of the classroom and into the larger world outside. The job of a filmmaker is only complete when he or she has found an audience. Mark has found an audience.”
Borja has formed a production company with friends, called The Scary Kind. He is focused on learning how to operate and brand a company to build an online magazine showcasing arts and culture.
“These people are innovators and entrepreneurs who are trying to be the best they can be,” Borja said. “These are people trying to catch it all and put it together in an online source. It’s almost exhausting balancing school and the many connections I’ve made that have propelled my path forward, but I tell myself it’s worth it.“
Words: Tyler Harris, Student Communications Assistant
Image: Lynn Roberson, College Communications Director