Over the past six weeks, ten teams have been working on the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission’s latest cinematic challenge: the Moab Monster Movie Mash. The films were due at midnight on October 18 and will debut at a screening at Star Hall starting at 7 p.m. on October 30.
“I can’t tell you how terribly excited I am about all of this,” said Bega Metzner, director of the film commission at the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission. “It’s so much fun.”
The film commission has teamed up with Filmulate, an organization that runs genre-specific film festivals, to create the challenge. The ten teams (Red Scare, Comedy Sandbox, Eightch, Fear Fox Films, Shod in Freud Productions, Haunt Creek Productions, Studio 76, Moab Profilm Studios, Maledictus Productions and Crown Jewel of Moab) were to make a film that fell under one of the five genres: “accursed treasure in these hills”, “ghosts of the West”, “the devil came down to Moab”, “the beast of the red rocks” or “the dark desert”.
Wyatt Brown, one of the filmmakers, has been making videos for fun since he was a kid, he said – when he’s making films now, he usually sticks to horror and comedy. For the film’s challenge, he and his team chose “The Beast of Red Rocks” as their genre.
“These are basically a few friends who are going to camp on the side of an abandoned uranium mine,” Brown said. “And then things go wrong from there.”
Matthew Andrew, another filmmaker and high school student, is the founder of Moab Profilm Studios. He began to engage in film in college. He decided to participate in the monster movie for the challenge – it was an opportunity to exercise his creative muscles, he said.
His film, titled “Abandoned,” follows four friends who discover an old box full of maps that lead them to an abandoned mine shaft.
“It’s a pretty basic concept, so I really wanted to focus on the camera work and the location,” Andrew said. Figuring out the acting was tricky, he said, because actors are all his friends. He played with the script to find what felt most natural to him.
“We got it to work in the end,” he said. Andrew directed and edited the film; his friends Molly Knowles and Justin Knight produced it.
In addition to following a genre, teams had to include a riddle in their film – an individual element challenge such as a prop or line of dialogue. The films were to be less than 10 minutes long.
The movies didn’t need to be shot in Moab, but some familiar places might appear. The film commission obtained filming permits for popular locations such as the Slickrock Bike Trail, Moonflower Canyon, and the Fisher Towers.
Prizes will be awarded in several categories: best film, acting, direction, tale, death, atmosphere, fear, heroes, editing and sound; there will also be an audience award. Winners will receive a trophy, free entry to future Filmulate Fests, an international screening opportunity, and an option to be included in a feature film anthology. During the screening there will also be questions and answers with the teams.
The day before the screening of the film mash, the film commission will screen “The Canyonlands”, which was shot in 2019 in the Moab region. It was created by Brendan Devane, who founded Sadieland Productions LLC, a Las Vegas-based production company. The fictional horror film tells the story of five people who go rafting down the Colorado River, but when they set up camp for the night, they are terrorized by an evil presence. The film is unrated, but would be rated R for language and violence.
It has never been screened in Moab before, although it was filmed here.
“Since we’re having a horror film festival, even though I hate horror, I thought it would be fun to be able to preview it,” Metzner said.
The Canyonlands screening will take place on October 29 at Star Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the screening will begin at 7 p.m. The 10 films made for the Directing Challenge will premiere on October 30 at Star Hall, starting at 7 p.m. Free entry.
What: Moab Monster Movie Mash screening
When: Saturday October 30 at 7 p.m.
Or: Star Hall (159 E. Center St., Moab)