For over a decade, the School of Cinematic Arts' Student Industry Relations office has organized First Look, a unique film showcase. First Look is the SCA's annual student film festival. Top student-produced films are screened for family, friends, faculty and especially the Hollywood Community. Awards presentations and receptions are held. A special feature, PitchFest, tops off the event.
Auerbach, and Dean Elizabeth M. Daley.
Larry Auerbach, associate dean of the Office of Student Industry Relations says, "Since its founding, First Look has been a showcase for cinematic excellence. Through both our audience voting and judging by our panels composed of leading faculty and industry members. That tradition of excellence is now given even higher recognition."
The First Look festival is split into screening programs that span a few days. Faculty members host each of the festival screenings. Presentation of a Faculty Awards, within each concentration, is given to the winning student festival entry from that specific category.
The categories include: Cinematography, Documentary, Writing, Editing, Sound, Directing and Producing. An overall FotoKem Audience Award for the best pick of the weekend is also awarded at the festival. The USC screenings are open to the entire university community as well as the public.
A final awards ceremony honoring the winning films and filmmakers is held when First Look moves to the Directors Guild of America [DGA] for a screening of the top rated films chosen by the professional jury, along with the FotoKem Audience Award-winning film. The films are narrowed down to three top prizes: FotoKem Gold, Silver and Bronze awards. "Films winning at those levels will receive $2,000- $1,500- and $1,000-cash prizes," said the school's Director of Festivals and Distribution Sandrine Cassidy. "These funds will be dedicated to promoting the titles at national and international festivals and events," she added. The FotoKem Audience Award-winning film will also receive $1,000 for the same purpose.