A woman paces through her house, clinging to her phone and she jumps when there’s a knock at the door.
In five minutes, fourth-year film student Ryan Elkins’ “Home Late” unfolds a suspense story with a twist ending all in one shot. Elkins, who has entered Campus MovieFest for the past three years, is among the four finalists in this year’s competition for the first time with his film “Home Late.” With only one week to shoot and complete the film, the final product received the Jury Award at this year’s competition and will continue on to the Hollywood finale in June.
The short starts with a woman frantically calling her husband’s workplace and various friends because he’s late coming home that evening. When a suspicious neighbor enters the picture, the viewer begins to question who on screen can actually be trusted.
Elkins said his idea to do a one-shot film inspired the concept behind “Home Late.” Elkins said to make the artistic choice impactful, he wanted to pursue a film about a woman calling to find her husband when he doesn’t show up from work.
“That (idea) felt like it would fit with the one take because we could get some really interesting movement following her around the house,” Elkins said.
“Home Late” producer Ryan Murphy, a third-year communication studies student, said he was completely on board with the film concept Elkins created.
“I thought it was really clever to have a main character that you weren’t sure you could trust,” Murphy said. “There are just little things throughout that might tip you off, but it’s so well done you don’t see the twist coming at the end.”
Elkins filmed during one weekend and got the final shot after only 15 takes. He said improvisation by the actors, and the camera work from his cinematography crew contributed to the smooth filming process.
Because participants only get a week to film, Elkins said he knew doing a one-shot film would be a risk, but it was something he had always wanted to do. Elkins said it would be easy to make up time because the usual time spent editing the film wouldn’t be necessary.
“Editing is the worst part. Most people film on the weekend and then pull an all-nighter editing,” Elkins said. “But this film was different because there isn’t as much editing in a one shot.”
Elkins said he was shocked and grateful to have placed in the final four in his last year entering Campus MovieFest. To his fellow collaborator, fourth-year American literature and culture student Ashley Helm, Elkin’s growth as a filmmaker has been apparent as he pushed himself further each time he worked on a new project.
“What’s admirable about (Elkins) is that his job is never done,” Helm said. “Of course, (Elkins) is his own worst critic, but he’s always striving to get his projects to the caliber he is envisioning.”
As “Home Late” progresses to Hollywood with three other UCLA films to compete against the entries from other campuses, Elkins said he is humbled by the opportunity to have his film shown at the festival.
“Campus MovieFest is always a stressful week, but it pushes me to do better than my best and maybe hopefully win the competition,” Elkins said.
Despite the high stress that comes with making an entire film in one week, Elkins said Campus MovieFest always had him coming back for more and has played an intrinsic role in his college experience.
“The first film I made was through Campus MovieFest,” Elkins said. “It’s made a lot of my college memories.”