Fast Films: UPTV hosts 24-hour film festival


Senior Caleb Porto and a few other UPTV members create an alternative history of Lewis and Clark’s expedition in their short film, titled, “Lewis.” (Photo courtesy of Cassidy Fischer)

The screen fades to black after the character of Meriwether Lewis gets impaled — by his future self.

Lewis uses a power strip as a makeshift time machine and travels back to when he launched a knife into the woods. When he arrives in the past, he appears in the woods and inadvertently becomes the target of the knife his past self threw.

Following the scene, the Cathedral of Learning’s G8 classroom filled with applause from the about 30 people who attended UPTV’s annual 24-hour film festival Saturday.

The teams were split up Friday and given only 24 hours to take a simple household item and craft a short film. Each team received a unique prompt to set their film in a particular month and incorporate a specific prop into the storyline. The plots ranged from a comedic infomercial for cutlery to a science fictional period piece starring American historical figures and a power strip.

And after a grueling day of writing, shooting and editing entire short films, the five teams gathered again on Saturday to bond over pizza and the eclectic variety of cinematography, chatting away as they looked back on the process and the screening began.

Caleb Porto, a senior mechanical engineering major, along with a few other UPTV members, created “Lewis,” a short film attempting to tell an alternative history of Lewis and Clark.

“I’d say the nicest parts were diving into history, into the future and the present all in one sitting. That’s really what the film tries to do,” Porto said. “It tries to spread out across all of time itself, and I think that’s what really matters.”

The process of filming was challenging yet rewarding, Porto said, but 24 hours isn’t enough time to create an Oscar award-winning masterpiece. But it was definitely enough time to bond with friends over the stress and exhilaration of creating a story from nothing, he said.

“We kind of buried ourselves with a lot of shots,” Porto said. “It was tough, but it was fun.”

UPTV’s president, Cassidy Fischer — a senior majoring in film studies and communications — said the greatest product of this experience was the friendships forged under the creative pressure.

“I think it’s a time for people who aren’t involved in UPTV to come and see what we can do in 24 hours and see what we’re capable of in a small crunch period,” Fischer said. “Throughout UPTV’s past — before we reformed this past spring — our best content came out of these film festivals.”

Fischer said UPTV’s rebranding in the spring semester created a brand new atmosphere within its community — bringing in hoards of new members who were eager to participate. Still, Fischer and her fellow club members wanted to keep the film festival’s tradition alive throughout the process of relaunching.

With such a rush of new and excited filmmaking talent, many members also wanted to branch out and include individuals from all disciplines under UPTV. Member and participant Helen Richard, a junior film studies major, said film is often lost among the other disciplines at Pitt.

“I used to be a STEM major, but I just feel like a lot of times the humanities and arts are overwritten in the process of that,” Richard said. “But having all of this great production really opens people’s eyes to the things that are happening at Pitt that are not medicine or engineering,”

The event brought together people from a variety of disciplines, like the team that worked on “Lewis,” mechanical engineering major Potro and Richard, a film major. With such a wide variety of eager members, many participants only see UPTV continuing to grow.

“We have such a wide variety of shows, and I think having a space on campus where everyone can come together to collaborate is where it will go in the future here at Pitt,” Fischer said.