By SIERRA J. RUSSELL
Early issues of the Aztec Press frequently featured movie reviews. During the 1980s, coverage shifted to in-depth exploration of the filmmaking process.
By the ‘90s, Pima Community College students and faculty were writing, directing, producing and editing experimental movies.
Students in the advanced cinematography class created the first project, “The Sun Again,” in 1991.
The movie was well received at the University of Arizona Film Festival and, like the annual films that followed, was made possible by funding from students, instructors and local businesses.
In 1992, media communication student Sean Sandefur was working on a film that would cost approximately $1,000 to complete.
“The financial commitment is at times overwhelming, but not an obstacle,” Sandefur said. “Donations of time from serious people interested in production would be great.”
The following year, students from the advanced cinematography class worked on “Something’s Eating Me,” written by media arts major and actor Anthony Reid.
Each student involved was required to work on the project for a minimum of 30 hours a week.
Producer Lisa Greenwood said, “During the actual shooting, the entire crew worked from 8 a.m. until midnight for four days straight.”
Filming took place at a variety of locations, including the Red Garter Saloon on Speedway Boulevard and an area of West Campus that was set up to look like a hospital waiting room.
“It took about 10 days and 300 labor hours to construct the bare walls,” Greenwood said, “and an additional 120 labor hours to prop the sets at the Red Garter.”
Patricia Patton, a media arts student who had experience applying makeup for pageants and talent shows, was photographed in a 1992 issue as she “aged” an actor by graying his hair.
“Hours were spent making up the actors,” Patton said. “Even down to combing the female lead’s hair in a particular manner, and applying eye makeup to ensure that it would reflect the mood she was expected to convey.”
By the 2000 fall semester, nine films had been produced under the direction of advanced cinematography instructor David Wing and post-production film instructor Cyndee Wing.
They estimated the accumulated cost of the movies was $63,000, which was not even half of what most Hollywood films of the time cost.
“In these two classes you can learn every step in making a movie,” Cyndee Wing said. “And make it cheap.”
Erin Benzenhoefer, student director of the film department’s 10th movie, “Scavengers,” said that no matter how much a film crew prepared, there would always be unexpected obstacles.
“We have nine actors, 161 shots, 18 crew members and chaos,” Benzenhoefer said. “Despite the problems, we’re having a good time.”