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Prof. Greg Bandy and the Special Events class responsible for the 2010 Highbridge Film Festival.WILMORE, KY—Students in Asbury University’s Special Events class are gaining real-world experience as they finish last minute details for the sixth annual April 24 Highbridge Film Festival in Wilmore. Beyond the classroom, they are working with businesses and organizations in the greater Lexington area to generate support and excitement for the upcoming red carpet event. The group of 20 students has been working on the event since January, which will showcase the best of Asbury’s Communication Arts Department in the areas film, acting and special effects.

It is easy to understand the large amount of work required to produce, shoot and edit a movie, but the team planning the event itself deserves credit of its own.

The Special Events class, taught by Asbury Professor Greg Bandy, literally becomes a marketing/production studio that plans, promotes and hosts the Highbridge Film Festival. Students in the class receive professional-level experience as they develop promotional materials, produce the evening activities, and publicize it.

“My goal is to bring students into contact with important ideas while providing a unique educational experience. To that end, I emphasize that this is not a lab, it’s a real studio environment. We have no room for C+ work or failure in here, if you don’t do your assignment at a professional level, someone else will have to make it happen,” Bandy said of the class.  

Prof. Greg Bandy instructing the Special Events class.To effectively tackle an event of this caliber, the class is divided into four teams: Marketing/PR, Design, Video and Event Management.  Every week new video footage, designs, event logistics, and promotion plans are reviewed to create the best possible festival experience.  

The class environment straddles a professional working environment and a guided classroom where students are encouraged to take proactive initiative while receiving advanced instruction.  The appeal of the class is obvious according to marketing/public relations’ team leader Tiffany Gregory,  “People graduating from other schools might have classroom experience, but most of them won’t be able to say they’ve planned a real event with a real budget and large crowds. Most people won’t be able to say they’ve had this type of experience, in which they’re working on their own. We are doing what we would like to do at a professional level, but still have that guidance to make sure that it’s done right.”

Walking into the classroom one might spy recently captured video clips testing on the plasma screens; T-shirt and poster designs on large Macintosh monitors; and logistic printouts for everything from reception food to audio/visual staging in the team areas. The class even has a business student handling the event’s accounting this year.

Seth Parker, the video team leader, says that the most challenging aspect for them is, “providing a common thread through all of the festivals. Even though we’re trying to make a story for this year’s festival, there’s a larger story of the festival as a whole, as a meta-narrative.”

While the demand for a high-quality, flawless event is daunting, Prof. Bandy is confident that his students will pull off the Highbridge Film Festival with a certain amount of sweat equity. “I have 20 unbelievably talented students working long hours to put on this event,” he said. “Each student in here is exceptional in at least one area of expertise . . . Each festival’s success is actually determined by the students’ efforts to make that festival the best and unique in its own right.”

Tiffany Gregory says the high standard will be met.  “Our class isn’t okay with mediocre, and we’re not okay with just living up to last year’s festival.  We want to meet it, and we want to exceed it.”

Students in the Special Events class preparing for the Highbridge Film Festival.When asked if any secrets could be shared with an eager audience about the films, Parker replied with a smile, “The most stunning imagery that you’ve ever seen on the screen of Hughes.  Your heart will pound, you’ll swoon, really, you’ll swoon.”

The Highbridge Film Festival is April 24, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. with a reception following in Asbury University’s Student Center.