MSUM students participate in 48-hour film competition

After 48 hours of writing, shooting, editing and delivering a short film, a team of MSUM film students won best picture at the Cinethusiasts 48-Hour Film Competition held on MSUM’s campus last weekend.

Friday at 7 p.m. teams across the country were given a character and occupation, prop, line of dialogue and a genre. “We had to have a detective/cop genre, the character was Cameron Murphy the pizza delivery person, the prop was a sack of potatoes, and the line of dialogue was, ‘Are you sure you should be doing that?’” the director of the winning team Ben Pimlott said.

From those criteria, teams had to create a six- to eight-minute film in 48 hours.

“We call it guerilla filmmaking, which means we go out, and if we need a shot by a bridge, we drive around until we see a bridge. We jump out of the car, pull out the camera and make it happen,” Pimlott said.

Students had limited sleep in the critical 48 hours. Some only got four hours, while others found a corner on the floor during breaks. “There’s so much opportunity to grow as filmmakers,” Pimlott said. “Sometimes when you’re working on a professional shoot a location gets cancelled so you have to shoot on the fly, think on the fly, and just make something happen and be flexible. That’s what the 48 is all about.”

The students got together Friday evening at MSUM and were split into five teams.

“I was really pleased with how my group turned out. There was a lot of enthusiasm right off the bat. They were just really, really excited to be working on the project,” Pimlott said. “There were a lot of times throughout the weekend where the whole production could have easily ended, but it was that enthusiasm and excitement around it that kept it going.”

The teams overcame many obstacles, one being the lack of available actors.

“The 24-hour theatre competition was happening on the same weekend, so this great pool of actors we’d normally go to dried up completely,” Pimlott said. Some of the actors didn’t get on set until Sunday at 1:30 a.m.

The winning team or Za Za Pizz titled their film “The Madness in the Mash,” which is a mystery involving supernatural alien encounters, a detective and mysterious mashed potatoes.

Sunday evening the films were screened and given awards at the ceremony. For audience awards, Za Za Pizz won best use of dialogue and audience favorite. For the judges’ awards, they received best writing, best cinematography, best editing, best directing, best performance by an actress and best picture.

“The Madness in the Mash” was submitted to the National Film Challenge where a national panel of judges determines the top films. The selected films will be available for viewing and voting at

Za Za Pizz consisted of Ben Pimlott, director and editor; Conor Holt, producer; Patrick McKeown, director of photography; Jared Myers, editor; Kevin Hawley, writer; David Kolar, sound recordist and designer; Joseph Kojetin, assistant camera; Miah Detjen, second assistant camera; Zach Suckerman, assistant sound recordist; Joe Terhaar, boom operator and production assistant; Jamaica Meyer, graphics.

Cinethusiasts, an MSUM student organization that brings filmmakers and film lovers together, hosts the 48-hour competition every year. To watch “The Madness in the Mash” visit: