Skip to main content
The official hub for news and stories from Colorado Mesa University
Lights, camera, action!

Grand Junction Film Festival includes four WCCC student films

Local filmmakers flocked to the third annual Grand Junction Film Festival on October 6 at the Avalon Theatre downtown. The festival featured a wealth of talent from Colorado including Colorado Mesa University alumni and four Western Colorado Community College (WCCC) students.

“The Grand Junction Film Festival exists to bring together and celebrate our local film community,” said Alex Forsett, head of the Grand Junction Film Festival board and western Colorado regional director for Rocky Mountain PBS.  

This year’s festival was bigger than in past years due in large part to a partnership with Downtown Grand Junction and special keynote speaker Neil Mandt. Mandt is a Hollywood producer who has created more than 3,000 TV show episodes, six movies and has won five Emmys.

“This gives students another channel to get their films seen by people in the industry,” said Dan McClintock, lead instructor of the Digital Filmmaking program at WCCC.

Joel Cochran, Nik Linenberger, Taylor Mahoney and Nate Williams are all earning an Associate of Applied Science in Digital Filmmaking with a writing/directing emphasis at WCCC and had their films shown at the festival.

“It was a really good experience,” said Cochran, director of Average Joe. The festival was an important learning experience for students, whether through learning how to create a script that appeals to a wider audience or listening to unfiltered comments from the crowd as their films were shown.

“I wrote how I talk, dropping a lot of bad words and things, but that doesn’t appeal to as wide as an audience. And so that’s definitely the biggest thing I learned,” said Mahoney, director of Americano.

This was Cochran’s and Mahoney’s first experience with a film festival outside of the WCCC student film festival. “I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. Because we have been through something like that already, through our own premieres, so it’s just more fun and less nerves,” Mahoney said.  

The WCCC Digital Filmmaking program offers students hands-on experience in creating film from start to finish. “They’re learning how to budget and they’re learning how to schedule as you would in creating your own film,” said McClintock. This program also offers students the experience of working in a real production house environment. Capstone courses link the writing and directing emphasis with the production design emphasis to create an environment that mirrors that of a Hollywood studio.

“Instead of just doing classroom work, writing-directing students are learning that they have to delegate because they're not going to have the time to do the editing, the special effects and the audio,” McClintock said. In the capstone courses, writing-directing students learn to work hand-in-hand with production design students to complete a film.

Although the students did not win any of the awards at this year’s Grand Junction Film Festival, filmmaking program students will be back next year to premiere their films.


Written by Zoe Shanahan