Grant will help C-U Film Society expand activities

Grant will help C-U Film Society expand activities

CHAMPAIGN — Since it was launched nearly two years ago, the C-U Film Society has sponsored four workshops, a late-night screening of "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and post-screening discussions of other classic movies.

Thanks to a $3,000 public arts grant from Urbana, the society will have even more events this year, plus a screenwriting contest for Champaign County students in grades K-12.

Brett Hays and Luke Boyce, the Champaign-based filmmakers who started the C-U Film Society, are happy with how it's shaking out.

"I think with any community organization, it's always a matter of figuring out what people want and how to provide what they need," Hays said. "Being awarded the Urbana Public Arts grant has really helped us to be more strategic with our community programs.

"We have a lot of things planned for 2013, and we feel that we are really just now gaining the momentum we need for the future."

Among the events is the appearance here this week of award-winning director Cory McAbee, who will show his latest film, "Crazy & Thief" at the Art Theater on Thursday and be available for questions afterward. 

Other events in the works:

— The Pens To Lens screenwriting competition, open to all K-12 students in Champaign County. It gets under way Feb. 1, with a Feb. 28 deadline for submissions.

Hays said those interested can email to get more information or visit the soon-to-be-launched website

"Filmmakers from Champaign Movie Makers and around the community will bring the students' work to life in actual films," Hays said via email. "We'll also be working with the local C-U Design Organization on a few other treats.

"The films, along with other awards, will be screened at a gala at the Art Theater in May. We're actively looking for teachers and parents from around the county who are interested in having their students participate."

— On Feb. 16, the society will host a free afternoon workshop on grip and lighting, with the exact time and location to be determined.

Visiting filmmakers will teach the basics of lighting for film and video and bring all of their lighting and grip equipment with them.

— The evening of Feb. 28, the society will sponsor a free sound workshop, with location and time to be announced. Visiting filmmakers from Chicago who did sound on "The Dark Knight" will teach the basics of recording sound for film and video, again bringing their own equipment for demos.

The prior workshops offered by the C-U Film Society were on using high-definition single-lens-reflex cameras in filmmaking. Cinematographer Scott Regan of Chicago led those; more than 45 University of Illinois students attended the final workshop at the College of Media.

In addition to workshops and discussions, the society supports the New Art Film Festival each April at the Art Theater. The daylong event is focused on movies, including shorts, made in this region.

Some C-U Film Society events take place at Shatterglass Studios, a film production company owned by Hays and Boyce that recently moved to 309 S. Neil St., C, the former home of Surface 51, a marketing agency.

The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce named Shatterglass Studios — among its work are short documentaries produced each year on Roger Ebert's Film Festival — the 2012 Small Business of the Year.

"We plan on using the soundstage and screening room at Shatterglass Studios for future workshops and feel that the space is perfect for teaching and presenting," Hays said.

Anyone may join the C-U Film Society — for free. After it formed, the society charged a small amount for dues to help start its mission of encouraging film culture in this area. The Urbana Public Arts grant allows for free memberships to all who want to participate in the society, Hays said.

The society's board of directors meets monthly, with a focus on providing events and resources to enrich the filmmaking and film-appreciation community. The meetings are open to the public and are hosted by the society's sister organization, Champaign Movie Makers.

The meetings are casual and focus on connecting local filmmakers, hands-on education and getting films made, Hays said. The film society also will host a few general meetings this year.

For more information on the CU Film Society, visit or email