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Film Students Win 48-Hour Challenge

By Potoula Anagnastakos
Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

Between Aug. 15 and 17, students from LIU Post’s Film department participated in and won the 2nd Annual Huntington Cinema Arts Centre’s 48-Hour Filmmaking Contest. The contest challenged local filmmakers to create a short film in just one weekend, starting at 7 p.m. on a Friday, and having the finished piece done by the same time on Sunday.

11 groups were assigned a random genre, and all had to employ a strict set of required elements. This year’s elements included a character being named “Prudence Barebones,” the imagery of a doll dropping to the floor, and the line “You fool, those were my mother’s feathers!” For an added challenge, each film needed to be clocked in at less than five minutes.

The event was sponsored by Sparkboom, a project of the Hun- tington Arts Council funded by the New York State Council on the Arts. Judging was conducted by film industry professionals from various institutions nation-wide, and culminated in a special screening of all contenders on Aug. 28, where the winner was announced.

Team leader Andrew Barell, a senior Film student, met the challenge. His company, Requiem for a Team, was victorious with their comedic short “Dating 101 – In The Apocalypse.” The short centers on finding love when you’re one of the last people on Earth, and lampoons the “end of the world” genre. Team members included Barell, his brother Peter (a junior Film major), and seniors Connor Gaffey, Mabel Santos Haugen, and George Cayea. The crew received additional aid from senior Michael Mirabella, and sound designer Thomas Saltman, a 2010 LIU Post alumnus. Michael Staffieri offered his acting talent, along with actress Megan Kapler.

“My experience with the festival was great,” exclaimed Barell. “I got everybody together, managed the whole weekend, and then edited what we came up with on Final Cut Pro. We participated in the festival last year and had a blast, but didn’t win. We learned a lot from last time and formulated a new strategy to improve our chances of winning.”

Despite the time constraints and logistical problems attributed to making films, this year the team was more organized, even with fewer members. “It was tough figuring out what we were going to write, and staying up late makes you crazy. But my brother, Pete, a junior Film ma- jor, came through with an awesome script that we ended up going with,” said Barell.

Gaffey, who served as director, explained more about the difficul- ties of making a short film: “The hardest part about making a short film is spending thousands [of dollars] to make it, knowing it will
not make any back because of a near non-existent sale with short films.

It’s almost a very expensive business card. Once we get to these festivals, we are always meeting new people who are aspiring storytellers, and we work from there with new relationships to start bigger projects.”

“Dating 101” did not require such a large budget, but over $100 was spent on food and utility costs. The money was made back with the first place prize of $500, and having the film screened at the Cinema Arts Centre.

Professor Susan Zeig, the head of the university’s Film department, expressed her excitement for the student’s win and involvement in the contest: “I am proud of their talent and their drive,” Zeig said. “Each of the people who were part of the team is a promising young filmmaker with interesting projects in their future. The 48-Hour Festival is an excellent way for students to solidify their ability to work together, to practice their craft with an extreme deadline, and to try out new ideas. I am very glad they entered, and of course it is extra nice that they actually won.”

LIU Post students currently have many film projects in the works right now. Among them, Mirabella, Barell, and Cayea, have thesis shorts that will be shot at the beginning of October. Barell is currently in pre-production for his thesis short film, titled “Bluebird Weather.”

“We just launched our Kickstarter campaign, and hope to get funding so we can shoot in late October,” he said. There is also a Facebook page for the film, with frequent updates.

“I plan to send this film to festivals around the world, and have been loving the process of getting it made,” continued Barell. “I usually am a cinematographer but being able to step out from behind the camera and write, direct, and produce has been awesome.”

Gaffey has started his own production company called Dreamcatcher Pictures, LLC. “It will give us a name to label our outgoing films, and stand as an entity for investor relations to correspond with,” he said. “We currently have a no-budget feature film hitting the submission market within the next month, and I am currently producing two thesis films at Post with Andrew Barell and George Cayea.”

In addition, Gaffey’s thesis film, “Washington Boulevard,” has crossed the pond to France. “The lead actor in my thesis film was visiting France during the Cannes Film Festival, and [we were] able to set up a screening there as part of the Marché du Film,” said Gaffey. “We continued the summer screening at the Downtown LA Film Festival, as well as Long Beach International, where I won Best Student Film.”

Stay tuned for more information regarding student films and projects. In addition to thesis films, the school has commenced its production lab class, which will include four new projects.

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