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Guns and LOLs prevail at student film competition Campus MovieFest

Rebecca Noble
Crew members from “Outgunned” address the audience after winning one of four jury awards during the 2016 Campus MovieFest in the Student Union Memorial Center on Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016.

The organization Campus MovieFest travels the U.S. every year to call for hundreds of students’ entries into their five-minute short film competition. CMF is free to enter, thanks to many supporting partners, and has been stopping in Tucson

since 2009.

When film crews sign up to participate in the event, CMF gives them equipment and one week to complete production before the finale, where they screen the top films. CMF doesn’t tell student filmmakers whether their movie was selected as a finalist.

This year at the UA, CMF received 47 entries, but only 16 finalists prevailed. Out of the final 16, CMF chose to consider four films for the honor of the Jury Award.

The first winner of the night was “Refuge,” a post-apocalyptic short set in a decimated desert city, directed by film and television senior Tony Baril. This was Baril’s third go-around at CMF and his second win, with the first being an entry about the alleged ghosts who haunt Centennial Hall.

“This is the first year I let somebody write for me and I just directed it,” Baril said. “It was fun trying to go out and make up a script on the go, so we had an idea of what we wanted—luckily my writer was good—and with the two of us, it managed to work out pretty well.”

RELATED: Independent filmmaker Alex Cox’s “Tombstone Rashomon” to screen at the Loft Film Fest as a work-in-progress this Friday

The second win of the night went to the underdog—a self-proclaimed “dream team” headed by pre-business freshman Zach Cohen. The film was a comedy titled “Deep Sleeper” and got the most laughs of the night.

“The reason I did this is [was] I can look back on college and be like, ‘Oh, I just studied and did whatever,’ or I can go out of my way and just make something,” Cohen said. “Now we have this—freshman year we made a movie and we actually won.”

Cohen saw CMF’s flier while hurrying to class the day of the info meeting, and as soon as he found out what it was about, he only had one hurdle in the way of his dream—a lack of a crew.

He posted on his class’ Facebook page and soon enough had a small group of guys he said he would definitely work with again.

“We have good chemistry together,” Cohen said. “It was kind of weird in the beginning, … I didn’t want to show up on filming day and not have any cohesiveness. So we met up before and some cool guys turned out to be an amazing, random crew.”

RELATED: Review: ‘Arrival’ is an intellectually engaging sci-fi masterpiece in the same vein as ‘Interstellar’ 

Film and television sophomore Gage Judd received the third Jury Award for his western short, “Outgunned.”

It was Judd’s first time entering CMF, and he said he enjoyed working his vision and getting to feature his father and brother in his conflict-heavy short.

“It was a lot harder than I thought it would be,” Judd said. “We shot and edited it all in three days. I think we still don’t completely like the final project, but we just had to get it done. It was interesting to work on a time crunch, but yeah, I’ll probably make an extended cut just for myself.”

Last but not least came the win for film and television junior Sean Phelan’s “The Internship.”

The BFA student also had one of his actors receive the best performance award in the lighthearted comedy short.

“We poured all our heart and soul into it and it came out great,” Phelan said. “Efficiency was really great—our turn around on each shot was like 15 minutes per, and we just knocked them all out with great time. We had the most fun with the sunset scene. We were losing daylight on that, but it worked out and was phenomenal.”

Follow Gretchyn Kaylor on Twitter.

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