A Magical Night at Spring Flicks (2019)
By: Ashley Lee
Note: I wrote this feature as an assignment for a journalism class with Professor Charles Zobell. Because of him, this feature gave me the opportunity to interview people who are passionate about film along with boosting my enthusiasm for both film and journalism even more. I would like to thank him for his feedback in making this feature the way it is now, and I would also like to thank everyone mentioned in this feature for putting time aside to let me interview them. It really means a lot to me.
The lights of the theater dimmed as the audience watched the first film of the night. I arrived late with my cousin, Jon Gilmore. We quietly took our seats as the movie continued. I recognized a strong plot followed by cinematography, editing and so much gore. This was the second and final night of Spring Flicks for the year. It was also my first time attending a film festival on campus and also the first film festival in my life.
Spring Flicks, a film festival, is held during the spring semester at UNLV. It lasts for two days. The UNLV Department of Film has offered students and the Las Vegas community ages 18 and up opportunities to showcase their work as filmmakers. Whether it is writing, directing, producing and/or editing, one’s skills are displayed on the big screen for the audience to see. Many film students collaborated to make each other’s films come true by either acting, editing, producing, doing cinematography, writing, camera work or directing. At the festival, I saw several collaborations. Before I went to the festival, I interviewed film department faculty.
“Spring Flicks was created by Amber Beard,” said May May Luong who is a film instructor and one of the moderators of Spring Flicks.
“I met Amber Beard when I was in the Theatre Program with her. Amber graduated on 2002 or 2003. I was inspired by her.”
When asked what she liked about Spring Flicks, she responded:
“It’s a chance for students to show their work; it is an opportunity to see each other’s work and to meet new people. My goal for this year’s Spring Flicks is to bring awareness to the community to support the students of UNLV Film.”
Luong is ready for Spring Flicks.
“I’m really excited about Spring Flicks.”
Dr. Heather Addison is a professor and chair of the film department who is directing Spring Flicks. This will be her second year directing Spring Flicks. I asked her what she looks for in the films submitted.
“I look forward to seeing compelling stories in the effective use of film style,” she said. “I am open to any film genre and style.”
When I asked what inspired her to direct Spring Flicks for the second time, she responded, “I’m always happy to do it; David Schmoeller who is the faculty adviser did it for a long time. Brett Levner did it for one year, and I stepped in.”
When I asked about her favorite things about Spring Flicks she told me:
“It is a fun event for our department. It’s almost like a family along with being surprised in terms of content, style and audience.”
Addison looks forward to seeing a big turnout for the two-day event.
“I hope to get a lot of great submissions,” Addison said. “May May Luong and Marie Reff will be hosting.”
As Luong stated earlier, Spring Flicks has been here since 2002. I became a film student at UNLV in fall 2017 and did not hear about Spring Flicks until last spring. When I was in Film Production I (FILM 220) last year, I found out that one of my classmates, Joshua Voyles, entered the festival. When I saw the film, I was blown away with the plot, camerawork, cinematography and editing. He said it was his first film festival.
“It was the first one I showed in front of an actual audience,” Voyles said. “It was good. I had a really small team; it was real hectic.”
Recalling the experience, he said, “It was a lot of planning than shooting; I storyboarded the whole thing, and it was shot in about five days. I was proud of it; I’m just glad I did it.”
When asked if he won last year’s festival, he responded that he did not win “but Professor Addison did mention me at the film assembly.”
Voyles plans to participate in Spring Flicks in the future.
“At least two next year and one senior year,” he said.
His film titled, This Is Not My Home, can be found on YouTube.
On the evening of Spring Flicks, multiple films were displayed on the big screen. All of them were artistic. Some made me laugh while some scared me. Some of them really stood out. I enjoyed seeing where all of the movies took place. Some were filmed on campus while others took place off campus at places such as a motel, a park, and the desert. During intermission, everyone in the theater was given a piece of paper to vote for the best film that was screened that evening. After watching all of the films, everyone voted for the film that they enjoyed. After counting the votes, the moderators announced the audience choice award for the film I Want Fish which was created by George Mentchoukov (writer and director) and Fausto Darquea (cinematographer and editor). I Want Fish is a Russian themed film where two men are at a shack with one wanting fish while the other friend went to get fish.
“I’m on the verge of passing out,” Mentchoukov said. “I’m sleep deprived. I’m passionate.”
“I’m flattered,” Darquea said.
There was a lot of good stuff, one said.
I asked them if this was their first time competing in Spring Flicks. They stated this was not their first Spring Flicks.
When I asked them how they felt showcasing their film to the public, Mentchoukov told me he was scared.
“This is my first time being there for the debut,” Darquea said. “They laughed at the right points.”
It took three months of production, they said. Prepping for the film was ridiculous, they continued. It took two days of shooting, a couple of months to do snow, green screen and practical effects, and the editing process took three months.
When I asked what inspired them to enter their film into Spring Flicks, Menchoukov responded, “It originally started with my cinematography teacher showing a student’s work. I came up with the script.”
“I love the script,” Darquea said. “It was all George’s.”
Asked about future festivals, Menchoukov said, “Next year will be my last year. Every year I learn to improve. I like submitting to Spring Flicks.”
“Whatever George does, I’ll follow,” Darquea said.
After the show was over, I asked my cousin what he thought since it was his first film festival.
“I think it’s full of life,” Gilmore said. “You could see how passionate they are. The competition is there. I was really entertained. Every single one had its spice to it.”
He said his favorite film was I Want Fish.
“It had one theme which was comedy, and they absolutely nailed the aesthetic.”
Since he is eligible to enter his film into Spring Flicks, I asked him if he is inspired to compete in the future.
“I don’t feel confident,” he said. “I would want to critique and watch what they do.”
As a film student, I am also inspired to make films and have them showcased in front of a small audience. I would like to participate in Spring Flicks and the 48-Hour Film Festival in the future if my schedule allows. I have been given all kinds of wonderful examples for what I could do for my films. At the festival, I was exposed to a number of films from comedy to horror and mockumentary. I wish to be an audience member to these film festivals a little more until I am ready to compete and show my work in front of an audience. With all the great films out there, I plan to make a film that will be as great as theirs, but I do not know if it will even be better than theirs.
Overall, Spring Flicks was an entertaining event sponsored by the UNLV Department of Film. I picked the right night to go with my cousin. I heard the loud laughter and applause from friends and family, but I mainly saw the happiness of everyone during and after the show. My cousin and I left campus with additional happiness in our hearts from the festival that evening.
Cover photo is an original work of mine. Please do not reproduce without my written permission.