This year, Kitchener’s Big Music Fest will not only feature big names in the music industry and Breaking Bands, a competition providing a platform for young bands, but will also see the addition of the first ever Breaking Films. Similar to Breaking Bands, the competition will give young directors and actors the opportunity and a wide platform to show off their producing, directing, and acting skills through short films. Dan McLeod, who is working with Big Music Fest president and founder Mark Higgins, said the short films will be available for public viewing July 7 in Kitchener, Guelph, and Waterloo. Although there are prizes for the top film, McLeod said the focus is on showcasing and celebrating different works of film. Prizes will be announced closer to the screening date. The films will be shown in Princess Cinema in Uptown Waterloo, and in the soon-to-be-opened Apollo Cinema in Kitchener. McLeod said students should look to get involved because there are only a few film festivals that encourage youth participation to help them in their future endeavors. “As a business owner, when hiring employees, the only thing I look at in terms of credentials is a portfolio. I think learning and studying film is essential, but isn’t enough to land a job. Encouraging students to go out and make films can only help the participants in the long run,” McLeod said. McLeod was inspired to create his own business, Esteemedia, when he came across called 12 Angry Film Makers, initiated by Finscot Films, where 12 directors presented short films that were screened to the public. Breaking Films was introduced with the aim to portray raw creativity and passion, without restrictions and barriers, which McLeod said differentiates it from other film festivals. Big Music Fest is the largest music festival in Kitchener and held annually since 2008. According to Jeff Young, city manager for special events, Big Music Fest brings together popular artists and an audience from places as far as Nunavut and Australia. The festival this year will take place from July 10-12. All information for interested students can be found at www.bigmusicfest.com.