Saturday, July 20

Bruins’ short films go a long way


courtesy of CHRISTOPHER REINACHER
"The Butterfly King," the 2009 five-minute film that premiered at Campus MovieFest, will be screened at the annual Cannes Film Festival, which takes place in France this month. It was created by The Wait List, a student comedy group at UCLA. The film has won multiple awards and has been screened at many other film festivals.

courtesy of CHRISTOPHER REINACHER "The Butterfly King," the 2009 five-minute film that premiered at Campus MovieFest, will be screened at the annual Cannes Film Festival, which takes place in France this month. It was created by The Wait List, a student comedy group at UCLA. The film has won multiple awards and has been screened at many other film festivals. Jenna Belhumeur / Daily Bruin


With the little time and money that most student filmmakers are able to put into their projects, it’s a rare occurrence that such projects make it to one of the most esteemed film festivals in the world. Two groups of students from UCLA will have their films screened at this year’s prestigious Cannes Film Festival, which runs from May 12-23 and is held in the French Riviera.

The Cannes Film Festival, established in 1946, takes place each May in the French town of Cannes and is widely regarded as the world’s most prestigious film festival. This year, two groups of students from UCLA have been chosen to take on this intimidating event.

“Cannes is the place to be,” said Ella-Pauline Franklin, a third-year film student and associate producer of “The Castle,” one of the two Bruin-made short films chosen to be screened at Cannes. “I know that there will be big competition. … Spectacular films from all over the world are shown off. There’s going to be a lot of talented people in the same room as me, competing to have their films recognized.”

“The Castle,” a stylistic remembrance of the ’50s teleplay era, depicts a homeless man who escapes into a cardboard world. The film was shot in an hour and a half in a studio at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

After applying for Creative Minds in Cannes, an internship program that takes 30 students nationwide to the Cannes Film Festival and sets them up with various internships, Franklin decided to submit “The Castle” to the Cannes Short Film Corner.

“I think it was chosen because it tells a unique story. … It has a lot of elements,” Franklin said. “It has throwback elements of the ’50s and touches on the social issue of homelessness. I think that’s what stood out about it. … Dawn Garcia (the film’s director) has great taste in creating a unique take on something that’s very day-to-day and unfortunately normal in our society.”

The other film, “The Butterfly King,” is also competing in the Cannes Short Film Corner. Made by the UCLA comedy collective The Wait List, the film taught these student filmmakers how to score big success in the highly competitive film world with very little time and money.

“We wrote “˜The Butterfly King’ on a Thursday, finalized it on a Friday, filmed it on Saturday and Sunday. … It was basically four days of working really hard that led to all this success,” said Christopher Reinacher, a fourth-year theater student who co-wrote and starred in the short.

“The film’s a lot of fun. It’s coated in humor and ridiculousness but has a core to it that’s really true,” Reinacher said. “I think that judges see the spirit behind our low-budget filmmaking. … While a lot of shorts have million-dollar budgets, we had nothing.”

“The Butterfly King” won Best Picture and Best Actor (for Reinacher) at UCLA’s Campus MovieFest, played at Sundance Film Festival in January, was featured at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, and won Best Picture at Campus MovieFest’s Western Regional Finale.

This last feat ultimately led the group’s film to be the official selection for Cannes.

All in all, both “The Butterfly King” and “The Castle” are evidence of the potential behind young UCLA filmmakers. The key to success seems to be ingenuity, not big-budget flourishes.

“These films are oftentimes truly unique and done with little production,” said Wes Kenney, visiting assistant professor of directing who advised “The Castle.” “Most of these shorts are done with only three cameras or less. … There’s really no money spent. These kids who come in with little or no video experience and with little knowledge of the multiple-camera system do some fantastic work.”

Both groups of students said they were appreciative and proud that their work had received so much praise in the international film community.

“We represent ourselves, and our style and every scene has something to be proud of,” Reinacher said. “We’re happy to have the success.”

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