Take 10

The annual 10 Under 10 showcase spotlights collegians with cameras

One of the short films included in this year's 10 Under 10 Film Festival asks the question, "What's in a Name?" – and the very same could be asked of 10 Under 10, an annual program featuring short documentary and experimental films made by University of Texas students. Radio-Television-Film professor Ellen Spiro hatched the idea back in 2002 with the hook being: 10 films, under 10 minutes, made for $10 or less. But filmmakers are famous for bending the rules, and, as one of the final-selection judges, Austin Film Society's Chale Nafus, points out, a strict interpretation of the budgetary constraint is "a thing of the past." He admits that a couple of films ever-so-slightly-longer-than-10-minutes may have slipped into the lineup too, "because they were so good."

That, then, hasn't changed: Spiro's initial vision of a showcase for the university's impressive talent. They're a diverse group, ranging from 20-year-old undergrads to graduate Master of Fine Arts students already on their second or third careers. We asked the filmmakers of the 10 selected shorts to tell us a little bit about where they're coming from and where they're headed next.

Caitlin Lundin & Ben Kullerd (r)
Caitlin Lundin & Ben Kullerd (r) (Photo by John Anderson)

Film: "What's in a Name?"

Filmmakers: Ben Kullerd & Caitlin Lundin

Logline: Four transgender Austinites share intimate stories about the significance of their chosen names.

The Pitch: It's like the style of HBO's The Black List meets the hopeful characters of Southern Comfort, without the tragedy.

Hometown: Kullerd: Grew up in Mission, Texas. Born in San Diego, Calif. Lundin: Grew up in San Antonio, Texas. Born in Miami, Fla.

Influences: Kullerd: Shane Whalley's Peers for Pride program, which I spent a year in while at UT, gave me a lot of insight into queer culture and the transgender community, which was previously completely foreign to me. I really like film directors who can put on a flashy, entertaining show but don't sacrifice substance for style, like John Cameron Mitchell, Pedro Almodóvar, Wes Anderson, and Sofia Coppola.

"How I got into filmmaking": Lundin: Once I found out there was a formula behind most films, I was interested in how to combine the creativity and the science of the medium.

"If I wasn't making movies, I'd be making ...": Lundin: Constructing bridges. My mom wanted me to be an engineer.

Alex Murphy
Alex Murphy (Photo by John Anderson)

Film: "Sync"

Filmmaker: Alex Murphy

Logline: An experimental narrative, "Sync" follows two realities of Ryan's life after a fateful choice. The versions of his life grow increasingly divergent, and eventually the two Ryans begin interacting across the frame-line.

The Pitch: It's like watching a cross of Sliding Doors and Mulholland Dr. with double vision.

Hometown: Cedar Park

Influences: Everything I see or hear – either for inspiration or for things to avoid.

Next Project: I'm revising the script for my next short narrative, a dark satire, and I'm also in the concept stage on a documentary concerning stuttering, a problem I've personally had to deal with for most of my life.

"If I wasn't making movies, I'd be making ...": Money.

Gaia Bonsignore
Gaia Bonsignore (Photo by John Anderson)

Film: "Live Your Cinema! The Austin Media Arts"

Filmmaker: Gaia Bonsignore

Logline: A collective energy of people pursuing their passions.

Hometown: Arezzo, Toscana, Italy.

Austin forever or L.A. bound?: Austin forever.

"How I got into filmmaking": With a camera always around my neck ever since I was 16 and a genuine passion for films.

"If I wasn't making movies, I'd be making ...": Music.

Ivete Lucas
Ivete Lucas (Photo by John Anderson)

Film: "Mexican Fried Chicken"

Filmmaker: Ivete Lucas

Logline: The road to a high-paying life.

Hometown: Born in São Paulo, Brazil; moved to Monterrey, Mexico, at age 10.

Austin forever or L.A. bound?: The world.

Influences: Julio Cortázar, Rigo Tovar, Otis Ike, Art Bell, and John Waters

Next Project: "La Lupita," a short film about a Mexican boy who finds love at the Austin Country Flea Market, and a feature-length documentary about Vietnam War re-enactors in Pennsylvania, which I've been working on for the past two years.

Patrick William Smith
Patrick William Smith (Photo by John Anderson)

Film: "Shades of the Border"

Filmmaker: Patrick William Smith

Logline: For Haitians emigrating to the Dominican Republic, escaping poverty comes at a price.

Hometown: Los Alamos, N.M.

Austin forever or L.A. bound?: World bound

Next Project: I'm currently finishing a quirky comedy about Girl Scout Cookies and the concept of karma and will soon begin preproduction on a modern-day retelling of an ancient Native American folk legend, to take place in New Mexico and Colorado.

"How I got into filmmaking": I studied abroad in New Zealand, stumbled upon the set of the Chronicles of Narnia on a hike, and decided it was the life for me. Literally.

Marisol Medrano & Amanda Glaeser (r)
Marisol Medrano & Amanda Glaeser (r) (Photo by John Anderson)

Film: "Hearts & Hooves"

Filmmakers: Amanda Glaeser & Marisol Medrano

Logline: Veronique Matthews is a cancer survivor who discovered the healing power that horses have through her own personal experience as she was recovering from a mastectomy. After her recovery, she created the nonprofit Hearts & Hooves, and since then she has been bringing happiness to those in need.

The Pitch: Glaeser: It's like The Horse Whisperer meets Pay It Forward.

Hometown: Glaeser: Columbus, Texas. Medrano: Mexico City, Mexico/Austin, Texas.

Further Distinction: The film won a 2009 AOL Filmanthropy Project scholarship.

"If I wasn't making movies, I'd be making ... ": Glaeser: Ick, there was never another plan. I'd probably be crafting random stuff and selling it on Etsy.

John Moore
John Moore (Photo by John Anderson)

Film: "Refurbished"

Filmmaker: John Moore, 26

Logline: From the junkyard to the stage, a group of misfit toys find a new life and a fantastic talent.

Hometown: Asheville, N.C.

Influences: Richard Linklater, This American Life, Why? (the band), Jim Henson.

Next project: An animated short film about obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"If I wasn't making movies, I'd be ...": getting my Ph.D. in American Studies.

Chithra Jeyaram
Chithra Jeyaram (Photo by John Anderson)

Film: "A Job"

Filmmakers: Chithra Jeyaram, Kendra Krieder, James Tanner, and Danielle Garrett

Logline: Clinic women speak: How far past your own comfort level would you be willing to go for your job each day?

"How I got into filmmaking": Jeyaram: My first exposure to filmmaking started with a trip to the remote corners of South India, where I attempted to fund filming of an explosive water-sharing dispute between farming communities along a river. Though the project failed, I fell in love with filmmaking and quit a decadelong career as a physical therapist.

Influences: Jeyaram: The people in my stories affect me the most. They allow me to enter their lives and share their most vulnerable moments, and I do not want to let them down. I cannot sleep for nights when I edit my films. I was most nervous showing "A Job" to the women in the clinic.

Lauren Sanders
Lauren Sanders (Photo by John Anderson)

Film: "Under the Hood"

Filmmakers: Sarah Garrahan & Lauren Sanders

Logline: A progressive coffeehouse in Killeen allows Fort Hood soldiers to express their feelings about war and their assignments.

Hometown: Garrahan: San Antonio, Texas. Sanders: Houston, Texas

Influences: Garrahan: Agnès Varda, Mary Ellen Mark, Chris Marker. Sanders: Errol Morris.

Next project: Garrahan: I am currently editing two documentaries in Barcelona, Spain. Sanders: I'm currently editing The Great Place, a feature expanding on the subject of Fort Hood soldiers, their families, and how Under the Hood is helping them.

"If I wasn't making movies, I'd be making ...": Garrahan: I'd most likely open up a vegan restaurant. It's kind of my backup plan if all fails with documentary. Sanders: Music for sure. In an ideal world I would make music and make my own music videos. And sleep would not be a requirement for survival.

Jonatán López
Jonatán López (Photo by John Anderson)

Film: "A Color Work"

Filmmaker: Jonatán López

Logline: A stranger explores the life of two painters preparing for death.

The Pitch: It's like Sans Soleil and a little bit of Gummo; human memory meets a slight VHS aesthetic.

Hometown: Kissimmee, Fla.

"How I got into filmmaking": It is the only thing that felt natural.

The AFS Documentary Tour and the UT Documentary Center will present the 2010 10 Under 10 Film Festival on Wednesday, May 12, at the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz (320 E. Sixth). Admission is $4 for students/AFS members and $6 for the general public. For more info, visit www.austinfilm.org.

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10 Under 10, Shades of the Border, Patrick William Smith, Refurbished, John Moore, A Job, Chithra Jeyaram, Kendra Kreider, Danielle Garrett, James Tanner, A Color Work, Jonatán López, Under the Hood, Lauren Sanders, Sarah Garrahan, Live Your Cinema, Gaia Bonsignore, Hearts & Hooves, Amanda Glaeser, Marisol Medrano

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