‘Veritas’ is the Latin word for truth. At the University of Maryland, it means something different. 

The Veritas Short Films club is the brainchild of Alexa Yang, a junior bioengineering and cinema and media studies major. Yang, the club’s president, said she saw a need at the university for a filmmaking club in the absence of a film production major. 

“I got together some highly motivated [cinema and media studies] and theatre majors to start this club with the goal of offering a space on campus for students to collaborate together,” Yang said.

Veritas focuses on creating two short films each semester written, directed and produced by students from this university. Once production is finished, the films are submitted for film festival contention. 

Matt Yackulak, one of Veritas’ vice presidents, was drawn to the club because of the unique opportunities it offered on campus.

“[Veritas] was my first experience being on set and working on a film,” the senior cinema and media studies and immersive media design major said. “It was a fun experience to really get to learn everything there.”

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Despite the club’s popularity, Veritas faced challenges in its initial productions. One of the club’s largest hurdles, and initial inspirations, was the lack of advanced film equipment available to students.

“The equipment, or filmmaking equipment, available on campus are for the most part amateur or mid-grade quality,” Yang said. “The majority of these cameras are provided with a typical student in mind, so they’re cheaper and don’t really offer the quality and functions that are necessary for filmmaking.” 

Isabelle Baker, Veritas’s other vice president, believes the club demonstrates a need for greater access to film production within the university’s cinema and media studies program.

“It’s really, really hard to properly analyze something when you have absolutely no understanding of how this is even done in the first place,” the junior cinema and media studies and business management major, said.

The club’s first film, History in the Making, written by Baker, premiered on the Veritas Short Films’ YouTube channel on May 4, 2023. Since then, a trailer for the club’s second short, Every Loss a Hurricane, has also been released, and the film awaits a festival premiere.

With Veritas’s second year now underway, Yang has ambitious plans for the future of the club. In addition to two short films per semester, Yang hopes to support documentary projects and host guest speakers for its members.

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The club also has plans to extend its presence on campus. An indie film series is in the works with Student Entertainment Events, and Yang is currently planning Veritas’s first-ever University of Maryland Film Festival, set to debut during the upcoming spring semester. The festival plans to be open to colleges and universities across the nation, showcasing student filmmaking from all corners of the United States. In addition to student work, Yang hopes to screen feature films from major studios to appeal to a campus-wide audience.

Beyond Veritas’s future ambitions, the club is focused on its mission statement for the fall semester: working to bring light to current issues. Yang says this statement guides the club’s productions and project selection process.

“We want to provide this environment that will speak to the different biases that are happening,” Yang said. “[We want to] create this environment where the students who join our club know that these sorts of things make a difference, and inspire them to look at their own biases in a different way.”

With the fall semester in full swing, Veritas’s work begins again: writing scripts, casting actors and workshopping ideas, done by a group of passionate students coming together to celebrate the art of film.