Taking Stock of Froshlife…

The Froshlife Program has been around for just over 11 years here at Duke, and filled a valuable niche of programming for First year students. Not only did the documentary film festival capture a glimpse of student life, but it was a way to bring residence halls together, tap into the creativity of our first-year residents and provide a great space for campus departments to support student projects. Despite being popular for several years, the progress of technology that has a camera in everyone’s pockets has also rendered the model antiquated and in need of significant overhaul in order to present it in a fashion that connects to today’s current college student. Additionally, the majority of the planning committee has moved on to other responsibilities and university partners have wavered on the necessity of the program in its current form. Our students are currently over-programmed and do not have as much depth with the programs they are connected with. This over-programming leads to many students signing up for programs and not attending. For these reasons, we have decided to not host the Froshlife Film Festival this year. Instead, the New Student Programs Team, working with the Program Coordinator in Housing, Dining and Residence Life, staff from the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and former Froshlife participants and organizers, will work to brainstorm a more sophisticated model that increases student participation, connects with academic and community ideals and presents a quality product to the greater Duke community. If there are any questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact Jordan Hale at jh175@duke.edu.

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An Amazing Froshlife Premiere…

Some serious congratulations are in order.

Last Friday, March 1, we hosted an incredibly successful Froshlife 2013 Premiere Night.  The crowd was great, Tre’ was a fabulous (and stylin’) host, Duke University Improv kept everyone laughing, and of course, the films of the first-year class did not disappoint.

Jarvis’ film “[>1 Self]” (the brackets are silent) took top honors on the night, winning the coveted People’s Choice Award, as well as being recognized with Best Score by Serges Himbaza and Yoon Choi for a truly creative musical piece.  Randolph’s film, “You Have No Idea” gave Jarvis a run for it’s money, and Alex Elliott was highly decorated with his Best Editor and Best Director effort.  Alspaugh’s duo of Megan Pearson and Clive Mudanda took home Best Story honors with their film “As We Are.”  In the Best Actor category, Ashwin Kommajesula took the prize for his great work in Bell Tower’s “Free Falling”, while Tiana Horn was the leading lady of the night and won Best Actress for Blackwell’s “True Life: I go to Duke”.

All eight of the movies are now available to watch on our 2013 movies page.


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Production Tips from King Lu

Dear Froshlifers,

Hey all! My name is King Lu and I was one of the participants (Editors Note: and Winner of Best Director and Best Movie) in last year’s 2012 Froshlife competition. I just wanted to take a moment with this blog post to share with you all some tips for Froshlife that will hopefully assist you as you make your own Froshlife films!

General Tips

1) Do not try to do everything yourself! Collaborate with people in your dorm, put together a strong cast and crew, and get the whole community involved.

2) Really reflect on the first-year experience and try to convey that experience through a visual story.

3) Froshlife is only three weeks and people are incredibly busy here at Duke. Make sure that you schedule your shoots ahead of time and take into account when actors, crew members, and extras are free. Be sure to communicate with everyone and ensure that shoots do not fall through because of poor planning.


3) Show don’t tell. Film is a visual medium, so write and think in images and actions!

4) Dialogue is not necessary for a powerful film scene

– Ex: no words are spoken in this scene, but see how compelling the tension is between the     two characters on the subway: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-sU8GWoD3w)

5) Comedy is hard. If you are going to attempt it, attempt it right. Don’t go for cheesy – that doesn’t win over audiences. Try to write and capture comedy that is witty and relevant!


6) You don’t need the best camera to make the best film. A good story told through the appropriate shots on an average camera trumps a collection of “pretty shots” any day.

7) Find creative ways to light your scenes so that they look good. For indoor scenes, you can use lamps with extension cables and, for outdoors, you can use a white poster board to bounce and reflect sunlight onto a desired subject or area.

8) Use the wireless mics – not the built-in camera audio. Sound is incredibly important, so be sure not to overlook it during shooting.


9) Arrive late to a scene, and leave early. Cut out the unnecessary parts of your film and stick to what’s important.

– Ex: you don’t need to show someone walking into the BC, saying hi to friends, buying a coffee,                and walking out. If what’s important in the scene is that the character has not slept in two days      and needs a caffeine boost – just show him or her buying coffee and that’s it! You have 7             minutes to make a good film, use every second wisely.

10) If possible, make sure your sound levels are consistent and your audio is clean.

11) Give credit when credit is due. Credit everyone who worked on the project and who helped make your film possible. Part of being a good filmmaker is being a good person and collaborator.


12) You can find resources to help you along the way here: https://sites.duke.edu/froshlife/resources/

13) If any of you have general filmmaking questions, you can reach me at kl141@duke.edu. Please do not spam me with too many emails though, but I would be happy to help you out if you have any questions.

Thanks, everyone, and I hope my tips were helpful. Best of luck on your Froshlife films and remember to have fun!

– King Lu

Duke University, Trinity Class of 2015

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10 Tips for Crafting a Good Digital Story

Guest post by Jennifer Ahern-Dodson.

Jennifer Ahern-Dodson is a Lecturer in Writing Studies and Director of Outreach for the Thompson Writing Program. She teaches digital storytelling in Writing 101 courses.

Frosh Life. So you want to make a movie about your experience as first-year students. Where should you begin? How do you tell your story? Here are some strategies for generating topics and writing an engaging story.

  • Make it personal. What has your experience at Duke been like this year? What has surprised you the most? How has Duke changed how you think about something? To help you jump start your thinking, try writing a “top 15 list”—five things that surprised you this year/ five things that you wish you could change / five things that Duke has made you think about.
  • Be specific. Choose just one story to help illustrate your Duke experience. If you want to tell a story about friendship . . .   what does it look like?  Use details to help your audience see what you see, to understand what you experienced.  (“Show; don’t tell”).  Here, Meredith tells a powerful story about the last meal she cooked for her grandfather, using vivid details and imagery to recreate the scene for us. “Food for Thought”:

  • Focus your story on one take-home message for greater impact. Make one point and make it well.
  • Be who you are. Show us your personality. Here, Sheridan shows her Aussie side. “Down Under”

  • Keep it short.  When paced well, a 100 word script typically makes a 2 minute video.
  • Include dramatic tension. Something should happen in the story. Make it more than a Duke postcard or a summary of an experience you’ve had.
  • Start strong. Include a hook to pull viewers in and get them wanting more. Consider these examples from first-year student stories
    • I remember the look on my parents’ faces when they told me I had cancer.
    • I am a contradiction.
    • Three times every week, I ask myself why I am awake before dawn for Chemistry.
    • Sometimes I feel like a product on an assembly line leading to nowhere.
  • Write your script first. Without a good story, the images or music won’t really matter.
  • Get feedback. Read your story. To your friends. Out loud.
  • End well.  Avoid the clichéd or predictable ending (“work hard; play hard”). Ending strong sometimes means you leave the ending open. Here, Imani leaves us wondering about her next move (LINK) : Degree to Nowhere:




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Kickoffs Begin Tonight!

Hey all,

Today is one of the most important dates on our Froshlife calendar, because today Froshlife season officially begins!

Over the next three nights, the Froshlife team, along with some help from FAC friends, will be fanning out to visit each first-year residence hall to kick off the program.  This event will kickstart your Froshlife process – we’ll be there to help you think about story ideas, help organize your group, and generally give you the resources and support that you need to get started.

So start thinking about what it is that defines the first-year experience, and we’ll see you soon.

Here’s the schedule:

Monday @ 9pm, in your Commons Room:

Epworth, Aycock, Bell Tower, Randolph, Blackwell

Tuesday @ 9pm, in your Commons Room:

Southgate, Giles, Wilson, Jarvis, GA

Wednesday @ 9pm, in your Commons Room:

Bassett, Brown, Pegram, Alspaugh

Oh, and we have some t-shirts for participants!

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Why Tre’ Ellis Scott Loves Froshlife

If I had to put my finger on one landmark experience of my first-year at Duke, it would definitely be Froshlife. Froshlife is a film competition between first-year residence halls that showcases some aspect of student life.

Now, anyone who knows me knows I am a huge fan of competition. But, I would be the first to say that this film festival is about more than just winning.

The Froshlife committee provides you with a high-quality camera and laptop, and you only have a few weeks to create a short movie. You’re set up in teams of people from your dorm. This team needs a director, editor, cameraman, writers and actors to pull this off. Once the movies are done,there is a big movie premiere. By “big premiere” I mean red carpet style —- no literally, there’s a red carpet, as well as t-shirts, awards and live streamed!

Me, Ivana, and King!

Besides all the glamour, filming a Froshlife video last year brought me closer to a number of my dorm mates. We actually created something together that we were proud of. Not to mention, all of our outrageous outtakes could be a full-length feature film on their own. From the very moment you get your dorm assignment through senior year there really is a connection to your freshman residence hall that’s felt throughout your time at Duke.

For me, Froshlife became another way of sharing this connection with a team of Pegramites (it’s what we call the wonderful people who are blessed to live in Pegram) looking to do something different.

Cast and Crew of Pegram’s Froshlife Video!

I forgot to mention that the director of our Pegram Froshlife video was a film genius. King Lu is by far one of the most impressive artists I’ve met at Duke. (But even if you don’t have a rockstar film dude in your hall, you can still make a pretty sweet movie.) He has a passion for creating films and it is evident in his work. Check out his website: http://www.kinglufilms.tk/. Also, our Froshlife video took home a number of awards last year, including Best Director – King Lu, Best Actor – Tre’Ellis Scott, People’s Choice and Best Movie. Here’s our video: “d(U)ke” by Pegram

This post originally appeared on the Duke Undergraduate Admissions blog.  

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Froshlife Dates Set, and coming up quick!

Welcome back to Durham!

While you were gone, your Froshlife  team was busy scheduling events and making plans for this year’s festival.  We’ve got all of our important dates now fixed and we’re excited to get this program going.  Below (and on the calendar page) is a list of all of the important events over the next couple of weeks.

See you next week at the Marketplace!

Marketplace Check-in

Tuesday & Wednesday, January 22 & 23  •  6pm  •  Marketplace

During dinner, we’ll be hanging out in the Marketplace to answer any questions you may have about Froshlife, and get you ready for the big Kickoff the following week.

House Kickoff

Epworth, Aycock, Bell Tower, Randolph, Blackwell  •  Monday, January 28  •  9pm  •  Your Commons Room

Southgate, Giles, Wilson, Jarvis, GA •  Tuesday, January 29  •  9pm  •  Your Commons Room

Bassett, Brown, Pegram, Alspaugh  •  Wednesday, January 30  •  9pm  •  Your Commons Room

Here’s where it all begins.  Rally your team, or come and meet other Froshlifers at this kickoff event in your Commons Room.  We’ll be prepared to help you start thinking about your script, organizing your team, and taking the first steps to making a movie.  Also, we’ll have t-shirts for team participants.

Equipment Distribution

Friday, February 1  •  12-2pm  •  MPS East, Lilly Library 115

Your designated team leader will be able to pick up your box of equipment during the 2 hour pickup window.  We’ll provide a laptop, camera, tripod, microphones, and documentation so that you can be off and running towards producing your film.

Production Period

February 1 – 22

This is when it all happens.  It’s up to you and your fellow Froshlifers to put together your 7-minute movie during this production period.  We’ll have some events throughout the production period as well to help you out, and we’ll announce those as they are set.

Movie and Equipment Submission

Friday, February 22  •  12-4pm  •  MPS East, Lilly Library 115

Time to submit those films!  Bring all of your equipment, along with your finished and exported movies (see instructions in box for exporting specs) to the MPS during the submission window.

The 11th Annual Froshlife Premiere

March 1  •  8pm  •  Richard White Lecture Hall

It all builds up to this.  Weeks of work, a few days of anticipation, and finally the red carpets, theatre lights, and of course, the main entertainment of the night – the 2013 Froshlife movies.

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Miss us at the Study Breaks?

Well, Froshlife season is officially open.  Earlier this week, donuts in hand, we visited each of East Campus’ residence halls to get the word out about Froshlife.  Now that finals are winding down, it’s the perfect time to cozy up with a hot chocolate and think about what your Froshlife story is going to be all about.  When we return in January, we’ll be hitting the ground running, and everything starts happening really fast.  So right now is brainstorm time.  The most important part of a successful Froshlife film is a good story, and we’re pretty sure you’ve got one or two from these first few months of your college career.

We know finals week can be insane for some people, so if you missed us at your study break, no worries.  You can still sign up on our interest list here.  Signing up is not a commitment!  All we do with this list is send you a few emails to remind you about the upcoming events of next semester.  As you can see, Alspaugh has a commanding lead in interest so far – anyone care to challenge that?

Have a great holiday break!

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Love Movies? Make one.

I’m excited to present our trailer for this year’s Froshlife Film Festival!  Get excited, we’re coming to you residence halls soon.  In the meantime, like us on facebook or sign up on our interest list

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Ok, so what is Froshlife, exactly?

I assume that because you’re here, you’re at least somewhat piqued by the idea of Froshlife.  Maybe you got a flyer at an event, or saw a post on facebook, or just heard about Froshlife from a friend; but in any case, I’ll take this opportunity to explain, start to finish, what exactly this whole Froshlife thing is all about.

Eleven years ago some folks had the brilliant idea to give a camera and a laptop to each first-year residence hall and ask them to document their freshman experience.  It went so well that we decided to do it again the next year, and again the year after, and eleven years later, we’re still doing it.  The first year of college is an important point in your life, and we think it’s something worth looking at through the lens of a camera.

So early next year, we’ll hand each first-year hall a box of equipment including a camera, a laptop, some other peripherals, as well as a bit of information, and we’ll set you off to create the next Froshlife masterpiece, addressing that still-relevant question of “what is the first-year experience at Duke?”  We’ve seen love stories, tales of triumph and of loss, detective stories, music videos, musicals, and everything in between.  But they’ve always shed unique light on the first-year experience, which is always changing, and evolving.

Each residence hall will have the opportunity to present their vision at the 11th annual Froshlife Film Festival Premiere, one of the defining events of the first-year experience.  Every year, we dress up, unroll the red carpet, and enjoy the films of the freshman class among your peers and an audience of thousands online.

But before we get ahead of ourselves with fancy dresses and bowties, we’ve got to figure out the most important part of this whole event, the story.  There’s no Froshlife without a good story, so if you’re reading this, get those creative juices flowing and start tossing around ideas with your roommates, hallmates, and housemates.  We’ll be coming in to meet with you all in a few weeks to help start these conversations.

In the meantime, to stay involved, you can like us on facebook, and sign up on our interest list.

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