Student film group Midnight Society beat out Incredulous Marshmallow Productions and Porkchop Sandwiches among others to take home best picture in the 5th Annual 24-Hour Mad Film Dash. Hosted by the UC Irvine Computerstore, the event gives students the chance to write, produce and direct their own short films. The competition had a large turnout with 50 films; 25 of the films were screened at the festival.
According to event coordinator Ambrose Yu, a second-year film major, the goal of the festival was to “give people the opportunity to make films,” especially people who do not have proper access to movie-making equipment.
“That’s why I like Mad Dash,” Yu said, “because it gives people, other than film majors, a chance to make films.”
The festival kicked off with an introduction movie made by event coordinators Ambrose Yu, Janet Lee and Colin Stack. The short film parodied The Lonely Island’s music videos, “I’m On A Boat” and “Jizz in My Pants,” and can be viewed at the UCI Computerstore’s Web site. The video received many cheers and laughs and had the audience pumped up for more.
The films made by the contestants also elicited strong reactions from audiences. Comedies and mockumentaries like Paper Street Productions’ “F*#%! My Life” and GlenMichelProductions’ “Morgan Smith: The Hunt” had moviegoers in hysterical fits of laughter, while films like The Midnight Society’s “Latent” left audience members with feelings of fear and suspense.
At the end of the screening, awards were given to the best films. Awards were based on five categories: editing, acting, cinematography, story, use of prompt and best overall picture. The Web choice award is currently being decided on the festival’s Web site and will be awarded at a later date.
This year, the judging panel consisted of Interim Director of the Film and Video Center Lauren Steimer, Disney Channel Post-PA and recent UCI graduate Morgan Swift and “Gilmore Girls” writer Stan Zimmerman.
The award for best script and story concept was given to Hamburger Mouth’s “Spacetimes,” a sci-fi spoof of 1950s airline commercials. Despite not being film majors, the group of physics and math majors were not discouraged from participation and decided to focus on an original idea.
“We totally knew from the start that we wanted to do a sci-fi film, because we knew no one else would do something like it,” said Peter Hall, a fourth-year math major on the team.
Incredulous Marshmallow Productions received the best acting award for its film “En Route,” a roadtrip movie about two siblings on a cross-county trip to spread the remains of their departed father, and the interactions between them during the course of the trip. Shooting took place in Victorville, which was an hour’s drive away. Most of the crew had spent the full 24 hours awake and were more than happy to win the award for their efforts.
“We feel really good,” said Jason Ornelas, co-director of the group and a fourth-year film and media studies major. “For a lot of us, it was our last year and it felt really good to be nominated and win.”
The awards for best editing and best cinematography were given to Disruption Production’s “Even at the Eleventh Hour,” a journey film about a man on a quest for a job. The film used many transitions between the protagonist’s job interviews and his early morning jog, a prominent metaphor for his journey.
“It’s actually a shock,” said fourth-year film major Daniel Park. “[We] didn’t expect to win, because we have three people in our group, but that’s what makes the award that much sweeter.”
Finally, best use of prompt and best picture was awarded to The Midnight Society’s “Latent,” a horror film about a girl during a blackout as she fights off the pangs of paranoia. The group used many lighting effects to give off a sense of fear and paranoia. Taking advantage of surround sound, the group incorporated heavy bass in the soundtrack to get the audience to share the protagonist’s feeling of dread.
Many of the contestants were excited at the competition because they felt that this year’s venue had a much better selection and polish. Most were eager to work again at next year’s competition.
“It’s the spirit of Mad Dash,” Yu said. “Each year, the films just get better and better.”