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The final films

By Kylee Dawson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, May 4, 2005
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Media arts seniors show capstone works

If you thought enduring your Uncle Edwin's home movies was a pain in the ass, imagine what his student films must have looked like.

Luckily, several media arts seniors who've spent the past four years discovering what it takes to make a decent film will be showcasing their labors of love next week at The Loft.

"Take 5: A Night of Five Student Short Films" kicks off on Friday, May 13, but don't expect to see any horror films in the lineup. Following are some of the films that will be shown.

"'26" photo courtesy of Stephanie Faust


Written and directed by Stephanie Faust, "'26," is a 12-minute historical drama about three flappers trying to escape the sadistic treatment of their deadbeat boss. The girls' plan to rob him goes awry when one of the girls decides to double cross them.

With her crew, Faust worked on "'26"for more than a year and a half and shot the film over a six-day period in November.

"The interesting thing about this film is the major roles on a production are all filled by women-cast and crew," Faust said. "We were working on a set with about 85 percent females. It was a lot of fun!"

Affiliated with a non-profit organization called Pan Left, "'26" was shot mostly with a 24P digital camera.

The total cost of "'26" was $15,000, though Faust said they got to use equipment, location and facilities for free.

"We made the film for less than $2,000 out of pocket, but as I mentioned, we got a lot of donations," she said.

"clowning around" photo courtesy of Tim Wong

'Clowning Around'

Directed by Tim Wong, "Clowning Around" is a seven-minute stop-motion animated children's short starring Marvo the magician as well as a clown and a jester - two separate things, folks - who compete for a job at the circus.

Ultimately, their conflict gets out of control, creating complications. In the end, of course, they learn to work together to restore order.

"I've found that this is a rare talent, and most people need to see something in a completed state before understanding," Wong said of working with animation.

Wong has been working on the film for about a year and a half, but said animation commenced in February.

"I think it's the longest period that I've worked on one project in my entire life," he said.

With a budget coming in just under $500, which mostly went towards animation supplies, "Clowning Around" was shot using a Sony PD 100 digital camcorder.

"So many people have worked on this project," Wong said. "There are so many little things to build that we've had to find willing hands to assume these tasks."

Wong modeled each character after students who served as motion actors, and animated them all himself.

"Working alone, in a creative void, that was key to having genuine performances that ring true," Wong said. "So in that sense, I don't think the characters would have come to life without them."

"breaking news" photo courtesy of Logan Hall

'Breaking News'

"Breaking News," a 12 1/2-minute black comedy, is about one TV news anchor's re-evaluation of "his position on an absurd war between farmers and the military when faced with an uncaring station manager and incompetent rebel farmers," said director Logan Hall.

Having worked on the film for little more than a year, Hall said he and his crew filmed "Breaking News" mostly in December with reshoots in February and March.

Shot on a mini DV tape with a Panasonic DVX 100A camera, it cost a total of $1,600.

Megan Donnelly, the director of photography for "'26" and "Breaking News," is also the assistant director of "Clowning Around."

"With 'Breaking News,' I'd say the hardest aspect was trying to represent a mundane character without making the look of the film mundane itself," she said. "Also, it is a satire of the media, so that had to be taken into consideration when deciding on the framing and aesthetics of the piece.

"The visuals help the film transcend between a film and a news program, as well as had to contain humor in them as well."

The remaining two films include an action-packed murder mystery, "The Black Seeker," directed by Edward Kim, and "Life List," the only documentary film, which examines the lives of two birdwatchers and was directed by Tom Dunlap.

"Take 5: A Night of Five Student Short Films" takes place Friday May 13, from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., in Tucson. The screening is free and open to the public.

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