By Patty Fantasia
Photo credit: Patty Fantasia

2010 Campus Moviefest Debuts at the Wynn

The 2010 Campus Moviefest, which is the world’s largest student film festival, invaded the Wynn and Las Vegas from June 10th through the 13th for an entertaining and informative event. Featuring workshops, Q&A sessions with entertainment industry professionals, the College Battle of the Bands at Tryst, screenings of the top 16 student films and an awards ceremony, attendees had a variety of activities to choose from. Festivities kicked off on Thursday evening, when lucky audience members were bused from the Wynn to the Palms for a private screening of the new 3D animated film “Despicable Me” starring Steve Carell, Russell Brand and Jason Segal. Animators Ken Daurio and Paul Cinco were on hand to make a special introduction for the movie during which they explained how the story about a super-villain raising three little orphan girls took four years to produce. The following day the duo also led one of the workshops, Writing for Animation.

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Sam Eigen

 

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Mark Boal

If there was one challenge in navigating the event, it had to be in selecting which panels to attend, since many of them overlapped timewise. On Friday, Sam Eigen, EVP at Shoreline Entertainment spoke about Movie Sales and Distribution, while Daurio and Cinco were holding their seminar next door. The following workshops also took place on Friday: A Directing Panel with Donald Petrie (Grumpy Old Men, Miss Congeniality); Creating for TV with Marcos Siega and Paul Sommers (Vampire Diaries, Dexter, Cold Case); a Mini Master Class in High Definition Workflows using Final Cut Studio led by Apple Product Marketing Manager Charles Meyer and a talk with Dawn Haagstad (Director of University Relations at Pixar), Jason Gutman (VP of the Gersh Agency), Dave Rather (Partner at Generate) and Tom Karsh (former GM of Turner Classic Movies) on Landing Your First Industry Job.

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Daniel Petrie, Jr, Anthony Blake & Timothy Dowling

For the musically inclined, there was a panel discussion on Music in Film and TV with PJ Bloom, Ashley Miller and Marcos Sega. PJ has created soundtracks for over 50 film and TV shows including Glee, CSI:Miami and Nip/Tuck, while Miller oversees the Santa Monica office of SESAC. Both were also judges for the College Battle of the Bands. Topping off the workshops at the end of the afternoon was a Special Event: A Conversation with Garth Brooks and wife Trisha Yearwood at the Encore Theater.

 

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Battle of the Bands at Tryst

Heading over to Tryst after the Q&A the top four candidates in the College Battle of the Bands performed with “Apple Trees and Tangerines” from Lee University taking the top honor and receiving cash and prizes including an Apple iMac, iPods and textbook rentals from Chegg.com. The competition was launched as a way to help top emerging artists gain exposure and recognition and any student band or music artist currently enrolled in an undergraduate program can submit music for free.

At the 2010 Campus Moviefest with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood

One of the special events held during the 2010 Campus Moviefest at the Wynn from June 10th through the 13th was a conversation with Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood at the Encore Theater. The couple took their places on a couple of stools on stage and Brooks told the audience that they were happy to be a part of the Q&A discussions because, “You hold the future in your hands, we don’t.”

Most of the questions asked centered upon different aspects of the music business and how it has been changed over the years. Garth, who is the father of three girls, related that gender is no longer as critical a role as it used to be. Trisha added, “If you’re creative you’re in.”

The duo talked about how they had performed on tour and had been friends for years before finally becoming husband and wife. Trisha hails from a small town in Georgia with a population around 2,000 and Garth marvels at how she returns home and still knows everyone. She even does work with her high school and college. Yearwood always knew she wanted to sing. She admitted “At five I wanted to be Cher.” She also loved sparkles and knew that she wanted to be famous. However, also being logical and practical she left for Nashville and became a music business major at Belmont. While her education didn’t help her land a record deal, it did give her an overview of the business, especially since her teachers were all professionals working in the industry.

Garth followed a different path, although he admits that he too always thought about being famous. He thought it would be for his athletic abilities rather than for music. At 18 he was one of 14 young people chosen to go to Opryland, but his folks talked him into enrolling in college, instead. Since he couldn’t read or write music that meant studying advertising at Oklahoma State. Rather than speaking a lot about his alma mater, he referred to his education as the Raymond Brooks School of Hard Knocks. “You can’t educate yourself enough,” he told the audience, “Keep Learning.

One trait the couple share is their loyalty to others and most of the people they work with have been with them for 20+ years. “Trust your gut on people,” Trisha advised. They recommend finding individuals who see the world the way that you do and keeping your personal and business lives as separate as possible. Declaring Yearwood to be his best friend as well as his wife, Brooks does admit that love is the one thing that can change anyone’s plans or perspectives. “It makes rivers run backwards. It just does. I think love happens when it’s supposed to,” he said thoughtfully.

Another suggestion Garth had for young people starting out is to take their time with the creative process. “The difference between good and great I’ve found is time,” he said. “Don’t let the pace determine the quality of your work.” Trisha added that the business has changed and artists have been forced to settle more, so that now sometimes the music doesn’t sound finished. She remembered that years ago “Songs were a work in progress for a long time.”

Being an artist is as natural as breathing to Brooks, who also writes screenplays. I love creating, it’s what I do,” he enthused, then remarked how if someone is creative, “a blank piece of paper makes your mouth start to water.” Garth often envisions a pile of records with albums like Hotel California and Rumors floating above and describes them as “the ones that define time flying with wings.” He asserted that hanging on to success is harder than getting into the business and claims that “it becomes your air.” He also believes that only a few performers define what an artist is.

Yearwood recalled a time back in the business when a video was made for every single before technology changed the industry. She said that video isn’t as important as a marketing tool, so the budget for it isn’t there anymore. With an impish smile she admitted, “I want to do a western. I want to be a gun slinging chick in a video.”

Aside from their career pursuits and family obligations, the couple is also involved with a charity called Teammates for Kids. Starting with 60 professional athletes, they now have over 2,500 in the program, which is in all 50 states, and 52 countries including five provinces of Canada. “We don’t believe that a child knows a flag. I don’t think they should,” Brooks said. The foundation gives funds quarterly to many charities so long as they involve helping children.

As for his deal performing at the Encore Theater, Brooks expressed admiration for the businessman behind it. “Steve Wynn gives them something they can’t get anywhere else,” he concluded.

NFL Hero Warren Moon’s Sports Dream Bowl Benefit Comes to Town

NFL Hall of Famer Warren Moon’s annual Sports Dream Bowl Benefit celebrated its 10th year in Las Vegas on Saturday June 21st with Texas Station playing host for the bowling event. Accompanied by a number of top sports heroes, Moon brought his dream team to town to once again benefit the Urban Youth Scholarship Fund, a national charity awarding inner city youth much needed financial assistance in the pursuit of higher education. During the past decade the organization has provided over 100 scholarships for students located across the country. This year 17 recipients were awarded for 2010 and the number of sponsors, athletes, celebrities and students on hand for the benefit totaled over 200.



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Warrick Donne with Robert Horry

 

Kicking off the festivities with a red carpet walk, fans of all ages gathered to meet and greet their favorite players, who happily posed for photos and signed autographs while making their way to the lanes downstairs. The participants also enjoyed clubbing at Encore’s Surrender pool and nightclub and dining at Emeril Lagasse’s Stadium at The Venetian and at First Food & Bar in the Palazzo.

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Host Warren Moon

Unlike many other events associated with sports figures, Moon’s fundraiser is known for being family friendly and showing lots of good will towards the fans showing up to cheer them on and it’s clear Warren enjoys coming back here every year. He mentioned that in spite of the tough economic times, people have still been stepping up to help his cause. The charity receives applications from students all over the country, so decision making often comes down to looking for something unique about the individuals competing for the funds. Moon noted that players respect what he’s doing off the field, which may explain why he has such an easy time getting so many of them to show up every year. He also believes that the kids appreciate the fact that they’re being helped to go to college. Throw in the fact that everyone seems happy to come and support the event in such a fun city like Las Vegas and it’s a win all around. “It’s like a big game,” the NFL star said explaining that he begins making planning the event seven or eight months ahead of time. As for his bowling skills, Warren commented, “It’s competition. Doesn’t matter if it’s pool or tiddlywinks.”

Marshall Faulk, now retired from the NFL St. Louis Rams, was a fan favorite as he headed for the bowling alley. He said that Warren spoke with him when he was younger about giving back to the community and now he enjoys lending his support and trying to help. Michael Bush of the Oakland Raiders was another player on hand to participate, while NBA Legend Robert Horry has been coming every year to the fundraiser. First and foremost it’s about the charity for him, although he admitted he also likes visiting Las Vegas and having the opportunity to mix and mingle with some great athletes. NFL favorite Chester Pitts told a fan “I have been practicing my bowling game,” explaining that meant working hard every day on it.

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Warren Moon and Joshua Crims

 

Aside from discussing the charity, there was also conversation about the possibility of an NFL strike coming in 2011. While everyone is hoping to avoid this, a few players mentioned that they hope the fans will take a look at the whole picture and try to see things from their perspective if it does happen. However, bowling was the sport of the day as these players spent time with sponsors, friends, family and most importantly of all the appreciative scholarship winners.