“I’m shook,” said Megan Hammer as 3 Ladies & a Camera walked onto the stage at the USFSP Campus MovieFest Finale this past Monday to receive one of CMF’s Top 4 Jury Awards.
3 Ladies & a Camera is composed of team members Megan Hammer, Kelli Carmack, and Ban Hamadeh: They competed in the second annual Campus MovieFest competition this year and won big. Their drama “Judy Goes Up,” a story about drug addiction’s effects on friendship, was one of the Top 4 Jury Winners at the CMF Grand Finale.
They will be moving on to compete in Terminus, CMF’s National Finale, to compete for the chance to have their short film screened at the Cannes Film Festival.
They have provided their thoughts and feelings about their journey with “Judy Goes Up.”
Photo Courtesy of Campus MovieFest
Kelli, HAB Director of Films, On Bringing CMF Back to USFSP
Kelli: I definitely knew that I wanted to bring CMF back this year. I can honestly say that participating in CMF last year wasn’t just an amazingly fun experience, but it was also a huge eye-opener for me.
I was blown away by the talent I saw at last year’s CMF Finale. I never knew that the USFSP community had so many talented filmmakers. It actually kind of made me sad because here at USFSP we don’t have any film majors, minors, or clubs really, so all of this amazing talent isn’t being utilized to its maximum potential. But at least with CMF, these students and I have one week to make these amazing films that we will always hold dear to our hearts.
That’s why as the director of Films for HAB, I had to bring CMF back. I had to show these students’ talent, and hopefully their talent will one day convince USFSP to offer film classes.
About the Process
Ban Hamadeh: From the day we sat in our living room discussing ideas for our Campus Moviefest movie, we never thought that it would be the start of such an amazing journey. The script itself was so meaningful and personal to my roommate that we were all determined to make sure to do it justice. We devoted a 110% of our time and effort into planning out every detail of the film to make sure it was perfect before the arrival of Campus MovieFest. Once they arrived, we immediately started shooting.
Our excitement for bringing our plans to life meant that we could waste no time. A very long and sleepless week passed by, but we had put so much passion into this film that we didn’t care about the results at the finale. No matter what the outcome was, we were going to be proud of the film we made.
Kelli Carmack: Filming “Judy Goes Up” was quite a ride. The week we filmed was a beautiful roller coaster of emotions. One night, we filmed a super fun party scene and the next night, we filmed the fight scene. The fight scene – I could write forever about my feelings about that scene, but what I will say is that the fight scene truly changed me. I would say that was my best acting performance to date. I completely got lost in the character of Judy. In that minute and a half, I wasn’t Kelli. I was Judy. That moment was so exhilarating and to share it with Megan meant so much to me.
Megan Hammer: Kelli, Ban, and I had been talking about using a story I had thought up for some time as the story for our film. I was in a hotel with my dad over Thanksgiving, and I remember grabbing the notepad off of the hotel room desk and going for it. It was an idea I had been thinking up during the course of the year; one that was close to my heart, as the premise of it was related to people I was close to at one point or another, one of which included my sister. I stayed up until three in the morning writing it out on that notepad. I keep it in one of my journals now as a reminder of how this all started.
The three of us came together one day- we sat down in our living room and went over the screenplay. I was incredibly grateful and overjoyed that the two of them liked it so much, and it was officially decided that we were going to do this.
“I just want to do this justice,” is what Kelli kept telling me, but I knew all along that she would.
One night, we were in the living room again, and I just had the strangest moment – I felt like something was going to happen. I don’t know what to say except that I believed in us and our film more than anything in the world. Because working with Ban and Kelli was so natural. Everything we did, we understood each other and shared the same vision. We weren’t just a team – it was like we were all somehow intertwined into this film with each other in such a way that it represented a part of each one of us in our own way.
Photo Courtesy of Campus MovieFest
About Winning the Jury Award for “Judy Goes Up”
Ban Hamadeh: I can’t even begin to describe what my feelings were at the finale. So many thoughts and emotions were running through my mind- I was lucky I didn’t pass out on the spot. Being nervous was an understatement. As the final four movies began playing, my heart was pounding so loud that it was all I could hear in my ears, my hands were shaking uncontrollably, and my stomach was filled with a hundred butterflies. One of the top four movies was played, then the second, then the third – at this point, I thought there was no way our movie would end up being played as the final one.
But as soon as the third movie ended and the words “Judy Goes Up” appeared on the screen, I lost all self-control. I burst into tears and screams as the reality finally hit me. The reality that our movie would be competing in Terminus. I still have no idea how I managed to successfully get to the stage without tripping. But even then, I had to hand the microphone over to Megan as my brain at that moment was not able to formulate words. After getting offstage, my heart wasn’t beating so loudly because of nervousness anymore but because of pure excitement. I still have no idea if I’ve been dreaming this whole time.
Kelli Carmack: From the wise words of Megan Hammer, I was shook. Not going to lie, the anticipation of finding out if we were going to get the last spot in the Top 4 was nerve wracking. Once they announced that “Judy Goes Up” was one of the Jury Award Winners, everything became a blur. I remember all my HAB and Her Campus friends started to cheer so loudly, and as I started to walk to the stage, I saw Megan just staring at me, smiling. I ran over and hugged her. All our hard work of putting everything we had into the characters of Judy and Kendall payed off. I then hugged Ban and couldn’t help but get emotional. Last year when Ban and I competed for CMF together, our film made the Top 16 and we were so proud of ourselves just to get that far. And so now, to have our movie be in the Top 4, was such a surreal moment for us. To stand on that stage receiving that award with my best friends is something that meant so much to me. We worked so hard and I am so proud of us.
Megan Hammer: I had no hopes. It came down to the last film to be announced, and I thought that there was no way it could be “Judy Goes Up.” When I heard our film’s name ring in the air, I looked at Ban and Kelli – Kelli was freaking out, and Ban dropped in her seat with tears swelling up in her eyes. Our friends Elba, Hayley, Danni, Mackenzie, and Alyssa clapped and grinned – The three of us were overwhelmed.
As I said many times that night, I was shook.
Megan On Winning Best Performance
Megan Hammer: I heard them call my name when they announced the Jury Award for Best Performance. I just sat there. They motioned to me to come onstage, and in the midst of claps and shouts, I suddenly couldn’t hear anything but my mother’s voice in a memory: I was thinking about seeing her act when I was a kid; when we were in a local play production of Big together, and I would watch her perform.
And I thought about my dad- my educator in all things movie-related. We used to sit on the couch after I would come home from school and binge watch Turner Classic Movies.
I went back to my seat with my award in hand, thinking about them.
Photo Courtesy of Campus MovieFest
Kelli On Going To Terminus & Future Plans
Kelli Carmack: I am so, so excited for Terminus! Regardless of how we place there, I am just so proud that we got there. In my eyes, my friends and I have already won because we made something so special together.
This whole CMF process made me realize than Megan, Ban, and I have something special going on as a group. I definitely see a future for 3 Ladies & a Camera, and I cannot wait to continue this magical journey with my best friends.
You can watch our film here:
HC with care –
3 Ladies & a Camera