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Published December 13 2012

MSUM team among finalists for national movie challenge

MOORHEAD – A group of eight movie-making students from Minnesota State University Moorhead has found itself in some elite company.

A movie made by the students, most of whom are cinema arts and digital technologies majors at MSUM, is among 15 finalists, out of 103 entrants from around the world, for the 2012 National Film Challenge.

The students made the movie over the course of 48 hours during a single weekend in October. After contest organizers provided all participating teams with a genre, a character name and occupation, a prop and a line of dialogue that needed to be included in the script, the students were off.

Because the team had such a short amount of time with which to make the movie, Patrick McKeown, a senior at MSUM and the group’s director, says the process was extremely stressful.

“Film contains so many different variables that could potentially trip you up,” he says.

After a weekend without much sleep, McKeown was “pretty much brain-dead on set” by that Sunday, he says.

After exporting the film just 40 minutes before it was due and submitting it to the contest, the group found out in November that they were one of the final 15. This is the first time MSUM has advanced this far into the contest.

The finished product, a seven-minute-long film called “Roleplay Rangers,” is about the wife of a junior park ranger who has to take up her husband’s role to protect a local park, McKeown says.

“Roleplay Rangers” and the other finalists, which are from much larger cities like Los Angeles, San Jose, Beijing, Toronto and Calgary, are now available to watch online on the National Film Challenge’s website.

Judges with the National Film Challenge will vote on the films, and then in the spring will announce a Grand Prize winner, which will be awarded $1,000.

The general public can also vote for their favorite film to win the Audience Award. That winner will receive a $500 prize. Voting is open until Jan. 3.

If “Roleplay Rangers” is declared either the Grand Prize or Audience Award winner, it would be screened along with city winners of the 48 Hour Film Project at Filmapalooza in Los Angeles, which runs from March 7-10.

If that happens, the “Roleplay Rangers” group wouldn’t be the only ones at Filmapalooza with ties to MSUM.

The winning video of Fargo’s 48 Hour Film Project, called “The Hardest Part,” was created by a team made mostly of graduates also from the MSUM cinema arts and digital technologies department.

Tom Brandau, an associate professor in the department who helps organize the National Film Challenge competition on campus, thinks such recent success by MSUM filmmakers is no coincidence.

“I think the proof is in the pudding,” he says. “I certainly think that recent results in these competitions show that our students are learning what they need to learn in terms of quality production and writing and all the elements that go into making a great film.”


Watch “Roleplay Rangers,” created by a group of MSUM film students, and a finalist for the National Film Challenge: http://filmchallenge.org/Films/

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535