Vagrant Journalism

Published pieces from the past, the present and of the potential future.

20 February 2007: WEB EXCLUSIVE – Team Uuta 24-Hour Mad Film Dash Profile

Posted by Christina on March 3, 2009

mfd_web_bgThe 24-hour Mad Film Dash at UCI is quite an exceptional event. At midnight, groups of filmmakers who have previously registered for the contest, collect for their random assignment. They then have 24 hours to make their short film in hopes of appeasing the judges – usually professors and faculty members – come awards ceremony time.

New University Newspaper: WEB EXCLUSIVE – Team Uuta 24-Hour Mad Film Dash Profile

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Team Uuta 24-Hour Mad Film Dash Profile
by Christina Nersesian
Volume 40, Issue 18 | Feb 20 2007

If you’re a baseball fan, you might have heard about Slaughter’s Mad Dash that allowed Enos Slaughter of the St. Louis Cardinals to afford his team the title of winners of the 1946 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. It was Slaughter’s dash to home plate that made the score 4-3, winning the World Series for the St. Louis team.

For UC Irvine students, however, a ‘mad dash’ means just a short 24 hours to produce one of the most creative outbursts of their lives as the UCI Bookstore hosted its Third Annual 24-Hour Mad Film Dash, starting Friday, Feb. 9 at midnight. This year’s productions have been some of the cleverest yet.

The scene around the UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts, Friday night, was packed with the anticipation of 89 teams finally receiving their prompts. Some were just feeling the caffeine fix kick in while others were fighting off the thought that at midnight, it would technically be Saturday and way past bedtime. You could pick out the night owls in the crowd, though: the kids whose clothes had seemed to withstand an entire day of wear and tear and remain ready for an active and sleepless night. They were calm and ready to take on the competition.

With their packets finally in hand and eagerly ripped open, cries of happiness and confused frustration appeared in surround sound from all corners of the quad. Out of the 24 genres offered, each team had been randomly given three to choose from. Some noted they had received zombie and horror flick genres, while others received things like music video, silent film, fake news broadcast and superhero, just to name a few.

‘There Are No Gangs in Irvine’ comes from a team whose genre choices include fairy tale, gangster and fake commercial. This is team Uuta, so named for a witch whose name’s misunderstood misspelling lead to a longstanding inside joke. She conducted a tour of the area around Tintagel and St. Ives in the West Country of England. It was on this excursion last summer where these teammates and friends met. Before leaving, she gave them each crystals on which they could wish.

‘Because we were all strangers, but now all very fine friends, I credit our group to her. It’s the wish thing. Our group is complete and blissful serendipity,’ said Team Uuta member Randall Thasilioni, a fourth-year comparative literature major.

Participating teams have a set of rules to follow before they can let their artistic intuitions run wild with ideas. Every aspect of creating the film must take place during that 24-hour period, including script writing, scene building and learning lines, as well as collecting and creating props and costumes. The teams have between 30 seconds and five minutes’ worth of film to fill up with their movie, which may include up to eight members who must all be registered undergraduate students at UCI. They must also follow the two stipulations to include the UCI Bookstore as well as an artifact, which the team finds out about when their prompts are given.

Team Uuta, is composed almost entirely of seniors, save for Ann Luong, a third-year film studies major who organized getting the equipment and registering the team for the competition.

While each component of filmmaking is important, essential to any sort of film is the writer. To get the team started while they were still amped on Starbucks Double Shots, Sobe and Monster Energy Drinks, they started to brainstorm. Each wrote down an idea that the person to their left would expand upon until some sort of cohesive idea could be drawn out.

Fueled by the comic relief found in the simplest things – products of their delirium from lack of sleep – they started to toy with the idea of the fake commercial, creating a product that was a magic cure to everything and had an annoying late-night infomercial tagline like ‘Head-On: Apply directly to the forehead.’

‘I’m trying to see if magnetic poetry will give me inspiration,’ said Patrick-John Asuncion, a fourth-year studio art major.

Robert Myers, a first-year film studies major, worked as a script editor (and eventually, actor) and came up with the idea of a gangster film centered around three hit men who are hired to kill each other, ending in a sort of classic Mexican standoff way.

This idea worked well for the team. With few actors required and a dialogue-free script, except for a voice over by Kathy Truong, fourth-year English major, Thasilioni’s directing was eased and challenged at the same time. They found a perfect location for the film and felt that if everything were to go as planned, it would be an innovative and a somewhat challenging film to watch. Final editing took place early on by Luong, Myers and Wilson Chan, fourth-year electrical engineering major.

‘Things fell into place, and you just don’t stop that,’ Thasilioni said.

In choosing the bridge near the engineering buildings, the team was able to execute their scene, as well as include a mandatory shot of the UCI Computer Store.

‘It is this nifty downward spiral that we hope will speak to the ridiculous violence in all gangster movies and reflect the cyclical nature of the film,’ Thasilioni said.

‘We chose [the children’s book] ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie’ as our artifact because it is also an Ouroboros of gluttony, mischief and all those sins that kids get away with. The book also features a sense of urgency in giving into requests that sort of feed into that futility that our film tries to approach.’

Their final project, entitled ‘If You Give a Mouse,’ was a successful collaboration on all their parts. For first-timers at nearly every aspect of filmmaking, the team feels proud of their product and although the time constraint might have played a role in its execution, what they have created is all that matters.

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