Behind the Scenes: COMMotion Pictures Film Screening

The UConn Department of Communication’s annual student film screening has become one of the department’s most popular events. Hundreds of students, family members, friends and alumni gather together in the Hartford Spotlight Theatre and watch student films on the big screen. Students in multimedia production courses have the opportunity to produce, film and edit their own short films. At the end of the semester, some of the best films make their way to the big screen for everyone to view. Though the red carpet and the flashing lights of the cameras certainly show the glamorous side of film, the process of creating them takes dedication and a lot of hard work.  A film team from the 2019 film screening gave some behind the scenes insight into what it takes to create a screening-worthy film.

Lil Doc was created by James Brockett, Taijek Mikel, Aaron Lorenzo, Gilbert Owens and Michael Sampson, who were all students in the COMM Advanced Digital Production course. The group created a 10 minute documentary that featured Connecticut rappers and their music. Each member of the film crew expressed an interest in rap, and they knew they wanted to incorporate it into their project. They found the stories of local rappers to be compelling because they all had unique struggles to overcome. Between the creation of music, local rivalries and the battle to be accepted in society, the film team captured interesting and heartfelt stories from each of the rappers featured. 

The students connected with the rappers and traveled to meet with them. They took trips all over the state, lugging gear in the rain and hoping to get the shots they needed to tell the story that they were looking for. Though some shoots were more successful than others, they were able to edit together a film that portrayed the troubles, successes and the personalities of Connecticut rappers. 

After all of this hard work, the Lil Doc team submitted their film to be considered at the Department of Communication’s annual film screening. Not only was their film selected, but it won the audience choice award. Both the film crew and the rappers received the recognition that they worked so hard for. The group members expressed their gratitude towards the Department of Communication for giving them an opportunity to create such a meaningful project. 

The 2020 COMMotion Pictures screening was hosted over a live YouTube stream so the audience could experience the same excitement while social distancing. You can watch a recording of this year’s screening at Professors Sara and Steve Stifano hosted the screening and named Peaches as the 2020 first place student film. Peaches is a short narrative horror film that left the entire audience with nightmares. Congratulations to all 2020 COMMotion pictures filmmakers, and thank you for another entertaining film screening.

To view the Lil Doc film, click here:

COMM Society’s 5th Annual Public Speaking Competition

Every year for the past 5 years, the Communication Society has hosted their Annual Public Speaking Competition. Students from all majors and backgrounds audition to win the title of “UConn’s Best Public Speaker”. The 2018 competition is just around the corner, taking place on the evening of April 9th.

“The competition is a way for UConn students to have a strong opinion or idea, and be able to express it while providing evidence to support their opinion” says Public Speaking Competition Chair Jessica Devitto. Students will be suiting up and practicing their public speaking techniques that they’ve learned throughout their time as an undergraduate student. The contest features 5 excited students that will be judged by three esteemed judges. The judges this year are the Comm Department’s Professor Amanda Denes, WFSB-TV and Connecticut’s CBS affiliate Caitlin Nuclo, and NBC Connecticut’s political reporter Max Reiss.

Year after year, the COMM Society searches for participants with “previous public speaking experience, charisma and an overall confidence that will light up the stage” says Devitto. Any undergraduate student is welcome to audition, which diversifies the participants and brings interesting perspectives to the event. This year’s topic is “What impact is social media having on our personal relationships?”. Each contestant will have the opportunity to speak out about whether or not they feel social media is having a positive or negative influence on people’s personal relationships through multiple rounds.

The competition is composed of 3 different rounds. The first round consists of prepared speaking, where each contestant will deliver their take on the subject in under 5 minutes. During the second round, contestants will be asked a short question by the judges based on their first speech, and they will have 2 minutes to give a response to the question. In the third and final round, contestants will be presented with an impromptu topic by the host, and the contestants will be given 15 minutes to formulate their 4 minute response. At the end of the third round, the judges will award one contestant as UConn’s best public speaker, and they will distribute $400 in awards.

Devitto stated, “This event is heavily anticipated by the members of the Communication Society because we get to see their months of hard work pay off. We also love attending because it is a way to gather the COMM community together to recognize accomplishments while building friendships”. Along with the rest of the Communication Society, Devitto has spent months working to make the event run smoothly.

Overall the COMM Society sees this as an opportunity for students to have their thoughts and ideas heard by people of different ages, races, and genders. It allows for contestants to get joy out of knowing they did something they might never have thought about doing before. As the competition rapidly approaches, we’re looking forward to being blown away by the contestants for the 5th year in a row, and we hope to see many familiar faces in the crowd.


Event details:

Monday April 9, 6-8pm, Student Union Theater

Questions? Contact Jessica Devitto at