The Z Fest film festival, a premier Minnesota film festival is like the Academy Awards of the Minnesota filmmaking community. Each year, professionals, semi-professionals, students, and amateurs are tasked with making a short film. the only caveat this year was that the film had to include some reference to time travel. The Institute of Production and Recording (IPR) Digital Video and Media Production (DVMP) students rose to the top, even among the professionals!
What is Z Fest?
The festival is sponsored by Z Systems, a pro video sales, rental, and installation service company located in St. Louis Park, MN. There were initial screenings on March 2 and March 9 at New Hope Cinema Grill. The top films advanced from that screening.
On Friday March 23, 2018 the “Best of Fest Screening and Awards Ceremony” commenced at the Radisson Blu at the Mall of America. Screenings of the top films started the night off and then awards presented afterward.
IPR Students Penny Pauletich, Parker Gorecki, and Joe Hegle were all nominated for awards. Penny won Best Screenplay and Best Student Film for Three Categories or Less. Parker won best Credits Sequence for Kids Menu and Joe was nominated for Best Student Film for Step On The Gas.
There was a chance to ask these award-winning filmmakers a few questions. Their answers were both inspiring and enlightening.
Penny Pauletich: Best Screenplay and Best Student Film Award Winner
What inspired you to make a film for Z Fest?
Honestly, I was only taking two classes that quarter. Neither of them were production classes. So I thought, why not?
What is your movie about?
It’s based on a slam poem I wrote. Essentially, a long distance love story that hits on different mental states.
Who else was on your talented crew?
We wanted to do an all female crew. The students included Erika Estes, Nicole Lutrell, Ty Carroll, Tiffani Libel, and Elaine Portlace. Some other friends, Ellie Drews, Kirsten House, Alicia Hathway, Maya Baker, and Siah Kofed, helped out too.
How was it filming at the IPR Studios?
We shot two of the four scenes in studios A and B. Without those studios, we wouldn’t have completed the film. It was a cool experience to watch Nicole and Erika (while I sat and ate pizza because I was a great director) turn four panels into a full blown therapist office.
What are you working on next?
Actually I thought I’d make a sequel!
Any advice for students just starting in Digital Video?
When it comes specifically to writing – you have to write what you know. I was very nervous about putting myself in such a vulnerable position but it ended up paying off. Think about your worst experience and make it a movie.
Also COLLABORATE. COLLABORATE. COLLABORATE. The input from my peers made this a success.
Any other thoughts you want to share about your movie or Z Fest experience?
There is so much paperwork. It is great for preparing you for “the real word”. Also you should do it next year because Minnesota has such a supportive film community.
JOE HEGLE: Nominated For Best Student Film
What compelled you to make a Z Fest film?
Christian and I were taking the demo reel class that Tony teaches and Tony wanted us to create content for our reels. Since it was right when Z-Fest was accepting applicants, we decided it would be a good time to give it a shot and create some content.
How many other students worked on the project with you?
Christian, Penny, and I all worked on the pre production for this film since we were all in the class together. We had about 5 or 6 more students come in to help with production.
What were you nominated for?
Best Student Film and Best Film Involving an Uber Driver with an Upset Stomach.
What was it like filming the rear screen projection in IPR Edina Studios?
I was really happy with the way that the rear screen looked on camera. At first, I was nervous about how we might get the driving scenes, one because I hate using green screen, and two we didn’t really know if the rear screen was going to work right off the bat. Luckily we were able to figure it out on time for the shoot and it looked great!
What did you learn in the process?
There was a lot of work that went into this film and a lot of work to get it into Z-Fest. All in all, it was a good time and I’m proud of the outcome. This was a learning experience for me, being the first time entering in a contest such as this, and trying new methods of shooting such as the rear screen. All in all, I had a hell of a time creating this film and entering it into the festival. The main thing I took from this is that it’s not all about winning, it’s about having a good time and making a kick ass film.
PARKER GORECKI: Best Credits Award Winner
What film and what award did you win?
I worked on Kids Menu directed by Sean A. Skinner. The award I won was for best credits. I animated a placemat/kids menu on a table that had all the credits laid out as if they were different options on the menu.
How did you become involved with this project?
Sean put a post up on Facebook looking for someone to help with some animation work, Owen Seaton tagged me on the post and Sean and I started working on the concept.
How did your IPR education prepare you for this opportunity?
IPR’s class taught by Keith Langsdorf covering motion graphics and 2d animation covered pretty much everything I needed to create the project.
Any advice for a student just starting out in Digital Video?
Never say no. If someone asks you to work on a project, do it. If you don’t know how to do it, figure it out. Getting your name out there is, I think, one of the most important things in the industry.
What are you working on next?
I am currently working on some motion graphics for The Official Guthrie and I am I pre-production on my final thesis project Taco Hell, getting ready to shoot at the end of April.
Taco Hell is an Action/Comedy about a man named Cole trying to get his pregnant wife Taco Bell at 3 am but his car wont start. He is forced to explore other methods of transport. It should be pretty action packed!
Congratulations to these students and you can learn more about Z Fest and our Digital Video Media Production Program at the links below.
Written by Nick Hansen, Staff Writer.
Z Fest Website: http://www.z-fest.com/