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Short Film Club premiere showcases stellar student talent

Short Film Club premiere showcases stellar student talent

Cast and crew answer questions at the fall premiere of UNT's Short Film Club. Four films were shown, each accompanied by a Q&A. Paige Bruneman

Short Film Club premiere showcases stellar student talent
December 04
17:47 2017

After deliberate writing, shooting and editing processes over the past few months, student filmmakers were finally able to showcase their work to an audience last weekend. UNT’s Short Film Club held their Fall 2017 Official Premiere on Dec. 2 in the Lyceum. Each film was followed by a Q&A with its cast and crew.

“One More Night,” directed by Peyton Fowler and written by Mary Chavez, was the first film of the evening. It told the story of a girl with anxiety who falls for her friend who, in turn, is emotionally manipulative.

In the Q&A that followed the screening, Chavez admitted the story was inspired by a personal experience, and she wrote the script as a way to give herself closure.

The second film of the night was “Pumpkin Police,” directed by Haley Harmon and written by Connor Copeland. The mockumentary is centered on two cops who are on a mission to get rid of all pumpkins that people have left out after Halloween. While the absurdity of destroying pumpkins in the middle of fall is a running theme of the film, the friendship between the two cops is the heart of the story.

Harmon felt it was important to have that realistic, emotional focus.

“No matter what, no matter how absurd a movie is, you want to feel like it’s real in some way,” Harmon said.

Harmon was excited about this film as soon as Copeland pitched it. Out of this semester’s official productions, she felt this one best fit her style.

“I’m definitely more of a light-hearted comedy kind of girl,” Harmon said. “All of the other [official productions] were dramas or drama-comedies, and while I do like touching on dramatic aspects, it wasn’t something that I could fully invest myself in and feel confident in what I was doing.”

Her work with Short Film Club has helped her gain this confidence. It also helped her meet people and make connections, which is how local comedians Mike “Mikey B.” Benavides and Joey Johnson ended up being the leads in the film. She felt that including actors who were not students seemed to add to the absurdity.

More preposterous humor was found in the third film “Tipless.” The film, which was directed by Ciara Boniface and written by Truman Kohler-Katz, depicted a pizza delivery man being tormented by a group of friends until he was driven into a state of murderous insanity. It exemplified the distinct genre of horror comedy.

One of the friends — Toby — was played by Gage Tijerina, who also played a stoner in “Pumpkin Police.” Being in Short Film Club has allowed him to explore several different aspects of filmmaking.

“I’d have to say that 90 percent of my experience and my growth as a filmmaker has been through Short Film Club,” Tijerina said. “What [the club puts] out is so crazy — like you wouldn’t even imagine it was just students doing it.”

This high quality was seen throughout the premiere, which ended with “I Stand Alone.” The film told the story of a girl pursuing stand up comedy against the wishes of her girlfriend and father. Writer Tony Casillas wanted to tell an uplifting but realistic story.

“It’s a ‘follow your dreams’ kind of movie, but we’re not trying to do the whole cliché of, ‘You can do it,’” Casillas said. “Even if you follow your dreams, it’s gonna be freaking tough. You might not make it, but if you love it that much, it’s worth it to fail at it.”

Writer and director Kenny Severson wanted to incorporate elements of Denton because the protagonist is finding herself in the city, just as he did. There were several scenes shot on the Square, a stand-up show at Killer’s Tacos and music by local band Pearl Earl.

“This is about starting out and not being very good, but trying to find your voice,” Severson said. “It’s a movie about stand-up in Denton, and I think it’s a really great place to find who you are.”

Finding one’s voice in Denton is an idea that can tie all these filmmakers together. Short Film Club is giving just under 200 students the opportunity to experience real filmmaking on real sets with real equipment.

The club helps these students learn about their art not only because they can gain this experience, but also because they can be inspired by other student filmmakers and learn from each other. This is an important aspect for Casillas.

“It’s made me want to become better because I see so many talented people,” Casillas said. “You can learn more about filmmaking in Short Film Club than you learn taking classes. Unlike classes where you have a week to do a project and you just want to get it done for the grade, here you take your time and want to learn about filmmaking. You want to become a better filmmaker and try different aspects of filmmaking.”

Featured Image: Cast and crew answer questions at the fall premiere of UNT’s Short Film Club. Four films were shown, and each film was accompanied by a Q&A. Paige Bruneman

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Camila Gonzalez

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