Center for Creativity and Horror Studies partner up for One Minute Film Festival

By Maria Scanga, Staff Writer

A camera, a single minute and a terrifying idea — this is all someone needs to participate in Pitt’s Center for Creativity’s “bite-sized” horror film festival. 

This year’s second annual One Minute Film Festival is horror-themed. Organizers accepted submissions that were only one minute long through Sunday. 

The films will be presented to the public on Thursday, appropriately in time for Halloween. Anyone can watch the submissions during the virtual screening to see what Pitt community members worked on throughout the fall. 

The Center for Creativity’s communications and programming manager, Erik Schuckers, said while it might appear easy to shoot a one-minute film, it’s actually quite a challenge for filmmakers. 

“How do you tell a story with a beginning, middle and end in just 60 seconds?” Schuckers said. “Every word, every image, has to carry its weight.”

The Center for Creativity is collaborating with Pitt’s Horror Studies through Hillman Library for this year’s horror theme. According to Schuckers, the partnership is the result of the preexisting partnership with the Center for Creativity’s Text and conText Lab and the University Library System. 

“We’ve been looking for ways to continue our collaboration,” Schuckers said. “Pitt has an amazing resource in the library’s Horror Studies Collection, and we want to spotlight that.”

While the screening of the event itself is virtual, this year’s filmmakers have a lot more flexibility in their creative process as compared to last year.

Last year’s festival, the first of its kind for the Center for Creativity, posed a bit of a challenge for its filmmakers with the ongoing pandemic restrictions. For Aditi Sridhar, a junior film major, the restrictions meant she was the only person behind the camera — directing the actor and writing the content. 

“I ended up shooting the entire thing by myself and had to get my roommate to act in it, just because we were in lockdown and we couldn’t really have a full crew or anything,” Sridhar said. 

Despite the challenges of last year’s fully online fall semester, Sridhar saw the opportunity as the perfect way to push herself to be creative and make something in the midst of an otherwise dreary semester. She even won the Audience Choice Award for her efforts. 

“It was just fun to be able to see everyone else’s projects during the festival,” Sridhar said. “To see what people were coming up with regardless of the restrictions and then seeing it come to life was really cool.” 

For this year’s festival, the restrictions are more lenient, and filmmakers are working with a full crew to create their minute-long ideas. Ben Asciutto, a junior business and film double major, created and produced his submission for last year’s festival by himself. 

His project — titled “Deified,” which is a palindrome — was about the main character repeating an action for the duration of the film. He is working with friends as the cinematographer and cameraman on a different project this year. 

Asciutto said the group’s submission is not so much the whole film, but more of a commercial for the full short film they are currently working on. Asciutto said the content of the film, titled “Rachel’s Spooky Housekeeping,” will remain a secret until the teaser’s release, which will be premiered later in the year. 

“Filming was a lot of fun, it was just one day and different people either directed it, wrote it or acted in it,” Asciutto said. “We’re submitting it as a teaser for the full film coming out later in the year.” 

The festival is open to all people in the University community, including faculty and students. Schuckers said he is really looking forward to seeing what Pitt filmmakers will bring to this year’s festival. Since this is the second festival ever, he also hopes it becomes a yearly tradition. 

“I’m really interested in diverse voices, especially in horror, so I’d love to see more women and Black, Asian, Latinx and queer perspectives represented,” Schuckers said. 

Asciutto said he enjoyed viewing what Pitt community members present in the festival, as well as the creative opportunity the festival provides for students. 

“I think it’s a great way for filmmakers, especially at our experience level, to make something quick and creative to share with a larger community,” Asciutto said. “It’s a great outlet for that.”

The festival is also a stepping stone for filmmakers to take their work to the next level. Sridhar said she remembers a student writing their own song, submitting a music video for it at last year’s festival and then the song went on to be a single on Spotify. 

“It’s just so cool and rewarding to see how some of these projects can evolve even further outside of the festival,” Sridhar said.

Schuckers expressed excitement for the return to in-person operations and the creative opportunities that it can give students. 

“It’s great to have the opportunity to offer some events without worrying about physical capacity,” Schuckers said. “We can again open them up to the world beyond campus.”