Breaking through in the film industry is tough business without real credits to list in IMDB. Courses at UNLV ensure students get the experience while making an indie film written and directed by award-winning feature filmmakers.
This fall, a cast and crew made up of students, faculty, and professionals is filming Riot in Bloom on campus and around town. Created by three award-winning female filmmakers/educators from UNLV's department of film: director Brett Levner, screenwriter and casting director Roudi Boroumand, and producer May May Luong (producer).
Together with their students, they will shoot and edit Riot in Bloom this semester then dive into the post-production in the spring. The ultimate goal is to screen the movie at film festivals and secure digital distribution.
Here's more about the immersive course
About FILM 450:1013
This is a film production class where students will be working on a feature film during the fall semester alongside faculty and working film professionals.
Why is it being taught?
To teach students the process of fundraising and producing their own low-budget independent films outside of the study system. Students will be able to make their own projects using minimal budgets.
“Gone are the days of having to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to make a film," says Levner. "Now, with the advent of digital cinema and the rise of streaming and the internet, there is a demand for content. We want to inspire our students to take the bull by the horns and stop waiting and make their films. This class will show them how that is possible."
Who’s taking it?
Undergraduate and graduate film department majors and minors.
Who’s teaching it?
Brett Caroline Levner
Levner is an associate professor of film at UNLV. Levner received her BFA with honors in film and TV production from New York University and her MFA with honors in directing from Columbia University. She was the first woman to win the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker Award for her short film, Being Reel and was honored at the 2005 Association of Independent Commercial Producers show for “Excellence in Filmmaking.” It is currently included in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.
Levner has numerous credits as a writer, director, and producer, including directing the feature film, The Track, about underage sex trafficking in Las Vegas. Under her tutelage, her students have gone on to win numerous awards including Pacific Southwest Student Emmy Awards, an Addy Award, a Best Nevada Filmmaker Award and a Spirit of Activism Award.
May May Luong
Alumna Luong earned a BFA in film with a minor in theatre and an MFA in writing for dramatic media from UNLV.
Luong has produced six feature-length films including The Track, directed by Brett Levner, starring Missy Yager (Mad Men, Manchester by the Sea) and Sam Trammell (True Blood, The Fault in Our Stars). Her films have won awards in film festivals worldwide, received limited theatrical releases and distribution on cable. In 2017, she was named the Nevada Women Filmmaker of the Year.
She teaches film production courses at UNLV and is working on the development of a number of feature film and television projects.
How does the class work?
Students will participate in the production and shooting of the film. They will be broken up into departments based on their areas of interest and past experiences, including directing, producing, cinematography, grip and electric, art direction, costume, sound, and script supervising. Each department will be headed by a film faculty member or working professional. These department heads will train and mentor the students in their area.
What will students be surprised to learn?
"The amount of planning and collaboration it takes to make a feature length film," says Luong. "Feature length filmmaking requires long hours and hard work, but it can be rewarding to see the end result on the big screen and know that you played a part in making that a reality.
"Also, the real world experience that comes with making this film is knowing how to collaborate with others," adds Levner. "Filmmaking is collaborative in nature; therefore you need to learn how to work well with others. This is a skill set that can be applied to many disciplines."
What excites instructors the most about this class?
"For students who want to pursue narrative film production after they graduate," says Levner, "They will need to work on productions and receive screen credit for their work on the film. This class will provide the needed experience to get them on their next project and for many of them, it will be their first screen credit on a feature-length film!"
Where do students go next?
"We will be offering a follow-up course called Editing the Indie Feature Film in the spring," says Luong. "It will be co-taught by Brett Levner and Jason Edmiston. Students with an interest in editing can take this class and participate in cutting the film together."
What’s the reading list?
- Producer to Producer: A Step-by-Step Guide to Low-Budget Independent Film Producing by Maureen Ryan.
- The Complete Film Production Handbook, Fourth Edition (American Film Market Presents) by Eve Light Honthaner.