With only 24 hours to produce their entry, a group of UTD Arts and Technology students created an award-winning, five-minute film for the Video Race hosted by the Video Association of Dallas.
The winning team – who call themselves “Digital Simian” – was comprised of UTD graduate and undergraduate students Anthony Tyler, Deter Brown, Mate Hartai, Monica Evans, Christopher Evans, Kyle Kondas, Tim Christopher and Quan Nguyen. The team won first prize in “Futurevision” as well as the Audience Choice award.
Conceived and completed from midnight to midnight May 7-8, the film had to include four previously unannounced elements stipulated by the Association – a line of dialogue, prop, theme and place.
The film – titled “Dumb Ass Larry” – chronicles the story of three young men who visit a supposed haunted house in search of money believed to have been left there by a previous owner. Kondas, playing the title role, tells his two friends that the money was reportedly left in the attic, which he calls “The Devil’s Playground” because of various atrocities allegedly committed there.
Throughout the suspenseful short, the UTD group successfully integrated required elements of place (a playground), a prop (a ladder), a theme (“easy money”) and a line of dialogue (“You can have it!”).
The graduate students worked ’round the clock at the computer labs in UTD’s Human Resource Annex (HRA) to complete the project.
“The labs had the high technology we needed,” Tyler said.
An interesting side note to the competition – but one that is not evident in the film – is that some of the team members graduated from UTD during the 24-hour video contest.
“We knew (commencement was going on) but we decided to do it anyway,” said Monica Evans, who along with Tyler received her master’s degree during the May 8 commencement at UTD.
Evans also said they structured the team in such a way that “they were able to go off and do things.”
The film was shown at The Angelika Film Center, where judges and participants saw their creations on the big screen together.
“Dumb Ass Larry” was spooky, and the audience seemed duly rattled, Evans said.
UTD’s entry was judged best among 17 other entries in the college/university/recent grads category. In all five categories combined, 85 teams competed, but only 70 completed an entry on time.
In addition to the acclaim associated with winning the prestigious competition, the group took home a $175 cash prize and an opportunity to have their film aired on the Dallas public television station KERA in early June.
“(This is) a result of the teamwork that went on in class,” said Dean Terry, UTD aesthetic studies professor, who has taught the group in the past.
He said the competition tested the students’ creativity, efficiency, discipline and technique in film production. He also attributed the group’s success to good leadership and past experience, as many of the group members had participated in last year’s video race and done fairly well.
Another UTD team also participated in the competition and made it to the finals.