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Shooting for the screen

Matt Robles/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Creative writing junior John Wiehn and economics junior Charlie Post founded the UA club PCW Productions last semester and are currently in production of their first film, 'Numbered With the Dead.' The two participate equally in writing, producing and directing the film.
By Seth Mauzy
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
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Student-producers audition actors for full-length film

Students craving acting experience do not have to major in theater to become movie stars.

PCW Productions, a UA club dedicated to the spirit of independent filmmaking, held an open casting call yesterday for all students interested in acting in the club's first feature-length film.

A dozen students answered the call to audition, arriving at the Madera Room in the Student Union Memorial Center to dry read parts for major and minor roles with the film's producers.

"My English teacher forwarded me a note about the call, and I thought I'd give it a shot," said Cheauharn "Chewie" Mon, a sophomore majoring in molecular and cellular biology. "I did a couple short films in high school for friends, and working in movies is something I'm definitely interested in."

Club President John Wiehn and Charles Post, a business economics junior, founded the club last semester and began work on the film, "Numbered With the Dead," shortly after.

Wiehn and Post share credit for writing, producing and directing, and both students have major roles in the film.

"The movie blends elements of action, horror and comedy with some surreal elements, which gives it an original feel," said Wiehn, a creative writing junior. "It is also kind of Shakespearean in its ending."

Students have produced every aspect of the film, from props and costumes to the soundtrack, Wiehn said. The production is mostly a UA affair, although Wiehn acknowledged that some students from Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University are helping with the scenes outside Tucson.

"We have students in many different departments working on the film," Wiehn said. "We've got a student in accounting helping out, and we have a student who is also a DJ in town providing part of the soundtrack."

The story involves drug dealing, gun running and cockfighting in Mexico and Southern Arizona, and is peppered with nefarious villains "capable of things humans shouldn't be able to do, which gives the film a supernatural feel," Wiehn said.

Students with a wide variety of experience showed up to audition, from students who were eager to get their first taste of acting to seasoned theater majors.

"I thought this would be good opportunity to get some film experience," said Meghan Benafield, a theatre arts junior. "This is what I do, and it's what I really want to do after I graduate."

Rhalina Noftsker, a creative writing freshman, said she answered the casting call because she thought it would be a fun and interesting experience.

"I've taken some acting class before, and I just thought I'd give it a try on a bigger scale," Noftsker said.

About 25 percent of the film has been shot, Wiehn said, mostly on location in Tucson and Red Rocks. Additional scenes will be shot in Phoenix and Flagstaff.

Wiehn said a release date has not been set, but the club hopes to have the film finished sometime during the next school year. He said PCW plans to release and self-distribute DVDs of the film after completion, as well as host a screening in Gallagher Theater.

Jesse Tapia, a creative writing junior who auditioned for the roles of Shamus and "Clown," said he was impressed by the professionalism and dedication of Wiehn and Post.

"They seem really organized and I was impressed by that," Tapia said. "They are very passionate about independent filmmaking, and I want to help them in any way I can."

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