Students get two days to compose and premiere films

A group of Las Vegas filmmakers embarked on a 48-hour race against time last weekend. Their mission? To write, shoot, direct and edit a movie in two days.

The contest is part of “The 48 Hour Film Project,” a national competition started in 2001.

The rules are simple. A member from each team draws four elements that have to be incorporated into their short films, including movie genre, a prop, a character and a line of dialogue.

The teams then have exactly 48 hours to make their films.

The 48 Hour Film Project’s website poses the question, “Can a film be made in 48 hours that is ‘watchable’?”

Whether or not these particular shorts were watchable is a matter of opinion. The time constraint and other stipulations are not conditions filmmakers usually contend with in the real world.

“No one is going to ask you to do that, to make a movie in two days,” said Jeremy Cloe, a UNLV film graduate and previous festival winner.

“Each year you learn.You keep learning,” said student Corey Perez. “This year we had an awesome art design team from [Los Angeles].”

Perez was producer of the team put together by Andrea Walter. Her movie “Dead Silence” won audience and jury’s best short, best director and best editing. The film also won runner-up for best cinematography.

For this particular team, the four movie elements included: silent movie as a genre, “Stewart, the valet parking attendant” as a character, a portable radio as a prop and “Careful man, there’s a beverage there” (“The Big Lebowski”) as their line.

“Dead Silence” was one of two zombie-themed movies in the contest.

The jury was comprised of four judges, including Sean Clark, head of UNLV’s graduate screenwriting Master of Fine Arts program, UNLV professor Clarence Gilyard, Danette Tull from the Nevada Film Office and film producer May May Luong.

“The quality of the entries was higher than ever, reflecting some significant advances in technology and a growing group of talented, more experienced student filmmakers,” said associate professor and organizer David Schmoeller.

Among the other winners were Adam Zielinski for best screenplay and jury’s best short runner-up, Brett Walters for best director of photography, Scott Minsthall for best editor, Mike Wurst for best actor, Kayla Ibarra for best actress and the audience award runner-up Tony Clifford.

Still amped up from the two-day celluloid baptism by fire, much of the audience, made up of film students, was energized and excited for the night’s films.

But above all, participants said the 48 Hour Film Project is an exercise in time management and teamwork.

The cinematic gymnastics that teams go through give them a microcosmic look at the whole process of filmmaking.

“It’s a project that teaches you a lot about the film[making] process and you get immediate gratification watching your film,” Cloe said.