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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Campus MovieFest challenges students to make a movie in one week

    Victoria Pereira

    Film and television juniors Matthew Ramirez, left, and Juan Ruiz, right, record sound on location at Mount Lemmon on Sunday. The film students are competing in the annual Campus MovieFest, which challenges students to make a short film in under a week.

    Making a short film can be a long and complicated process, but the world’s largest student film and music festival, Campus MovieFest, challenges college students to produce an entire short film in just one week.

    After attending the launch of the festival and being informed of the rules last Wednesday, UA student filmmakers hit the ground running and began developing their films. One of these students was film and television junior Matthew Ramirez. After competing in CMF last year, Ramirez wanted to try his hand at the challenge again and began developing an idea for a zombie movie.

    However, by the second day of the competition, Ramirez encountered what was almost a fatal problem in the making of his film. In the script for his original zombie-themed short, there were three parts, one of which had to be played by a young girl. The girl cast as the character informed Ramirez on Thursday that she would be unable to participate in the film. At the same time, Ramirez was having difficulty finding crew members to assist in production. Juan Ruiz, his high school friend and a fellow film and television junior, had begun working with him as a sound designer, but he still needed actors.

    “The one-week time frame for CMF isn’t really a big deal,” Ramirez said, “but the fact that there’s so much other stuff that we have to deal with for other classes.”

    It was clear that if they wanted to compete in CMF, Ramirez and Ruiz would have to come up with a new idea. Within a day, 

    Ramirez penned a new story, “Edge,” created a complete storyboard for the film and coordinated shooting for the following day.

    “This is a film about a man whose life has led him to abandon all hope,” Ramirez said, “so his only way out, he feels, is to kill himself.”

    Right when the man is about to plunge himself off a cliff, a hiker comes along to talk him down from the ledge. Informing him of life’s wonderful beauty, the hiker convinces the man not to jump. Before the man gets a chance to thank the random hiker, he mysteriously disappears.

    In order to bring this short film to fruition, Ramirez elicited the help of senior film and television students Gabe Oropeza and Tad Sallee to play the main characters.

    During their day of filming, the four-man crew travelled up to Mount Lemmon to a spot they had previously scouted. A cliff overlooking the shorter parts of the mountain and valleys below provided a breathtaking backdrop, and the midday lighting shone perfectly on the area. It took the team a little under five hours to shoot the less-than-five-minute film, ensuring every shot was exactly what Ramirez pictured it to be and each line was delivered in just the right way.

    They encountered some problems while filming, including noise pollution from nearby campers and exceptionally chilly weather. But, overall, the day was a success, and Ramirez was able to begin post-production later that day.

    Midday on Sunday, Ramirez and Ruiz travelled back up the mountain in order to collect some finishing touches. The two spent about an hour collecting authentic sound from the location and getting shots hanging over the cliff face.

    “It’s for the shot,” Ramirez said jokingly after being warned to be careful overlooking the gigantic drop. No detail was too small; Ramirez and Ruiz took countless recordings of shoes sliding on different parts of the cliff in order to recreate the sound of the man almost falling off the cliff.

    There are multiple awards given at the final CMF screening on Thursday, and each winner gets the chance to compete at the CMF Hollywood festival in June. Ramirez and Ruiz are trying to make “Edge” one of the selected shorts.

    Ramirez finished the rough cut of the film late Sunday night and spent Monday putting on the finishing touches. The films were to be submitted on Tuesday, and the winners will be chosen today by the CMF judges. No one, including the contestants, will find out which films won until Thursday night’s finale in the Student Union Memorial Center’s South Ballroom at 7:30 p.m., which is open to non-contestants as well.

    “When you’re making a film, you should really make it relatable, because you really want your audience to engage with the story,” Ramirez said. “I feel like I’m doing this very well with this film, but it’s still a competition, so it’s anybody’s game.”


    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter.

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