Muir Movie Productions

    Edward Steichen once said, “”A blank wall is an appalling thing to look at. The wall of a museum — a canvas — a piece of film — or a guy sitting in front of a typewriter. Then, you start out to do something — that vague thing called creation. The beginning strikes awe within you.””

    Starting this year, students will be able to experience that awe of creation when the new Muir Movie Productions gets under way. The organization, which operates much like a production company, will produce a 20 to 30 minute short movie during each school year.

    For its premiere project, the crew has selected “”Refraction,”” written by Akemi Hong, about a man trying to cope with the tragic loss of his wife. It explores human perception and memory under extreme stress.

    The production meetings every Monday night in Half Dome lounge are often standing-room only, with groups enthusiastically working out the kinks of the movie’s pre-production schedule. Few in the initial group of students who proposed the idea for a UCSD movie-production organization could have realized the enormous response the movie would elicit.

    “”It was a bit of a gamble, as any new organization is, because you never know quite what sort of response we would get from the university and the students,”” said Matt Niccolls, the organization’s president and a John Muir College senior. “”But we had a truly new project that had never been done at UCSD before, one that offered production experience to a school that is very theory based. And besides, it would be a lot of fun.””

    The selection of the script came after several weeks of script workshops, with assistance from visual arts professor Lindy Laub, who has movie-scripting experience. To ensure the feasibility of the scripts, the finalists were then read through by the executive producers and directors, and the final choice was made on Oct. 31.

    Although it was originally affiliated with Muir college, students from all six colleges have flocked to the project, bringing together an eclectic group of filmmakers. It is now an official all-campus student organization, and has representatives from each of the colleges to insure that input is received from all areas of campus.

    “”The production cannot survive without students from all campus,”” said Niccolls. “”The diversity, talent and enthusiasm you find on an all-campus level is amazing and vital for a good production.””

    An open casting call will be held Nov. 21 and Nov. 22, with screen tests and script readings. As of yet, the exact time and locations haven’t been decided, but this information will be posted around campus and on the organization’s Web site, www.muirmovie.com in the coming weeks.

    Though many of the members have media experience, it is not a requirement. The project is an opportunity to explore the world of movies first-hand, which is often more valuable than years of classroom instruction. In addition to acting, there is a wide range of activities involved in production including directing, producing, public relations, casting and set design.

    “”I was excited to hear about the Muir Movie organization so that I could help with the casting because I would like to work as a casting director after college, so this will give me some real experience,”” said Muir sophomore Kimberly Robbins.

    The crew is currently in pre-production, which entails casting the actors, scouting locations for filming and visually developing the script. Filming will begin in winter quarter and production will continue through the beginning of spring. Once the film is entirely finished, it will be released on campus and shown in Price Center Theater. In addition, the organization plans to submit the piece to film festivals around the country to gain recognition for a UCSD project.

    Muir Movie will forge ahead with its production to establish a campus film-making tradition that it hopes will last. Watch for this — action-adventure, romantic comedy, whatever — in theaters this spring.

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