Duo scores two film spots in Austin Film Festival

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The scene before the teleportation in The Teleported Man. Courtesy of Zach Endres.

Alexandra Hart

Perhaps cleaning mustard and mashed potatoes off of the walls of a school cafeteria is a less-than-glamorous spring break ideal, but for radio-television-film seniors Mystie Pineda and Irene Georghiades, the dirty work has paid off in a big way.

The duo co-produced “Incident at Public School 173,” a tale of love and war in the form of a school food fight. The film has earned a coveted spot in the 19th Austin Film Festival & Conference under the Narrative Shorts category.

But if one entry wasn’t enough, the team also worked together on another short film, “The Teleported Man,” a sci-fi thriller that also snagged a spot at the festival. No small feat for two students who also have jobs, internships and classes to handle.

“Both of these are our first films that we’ve made into festivals, so it’s a pretty big deal for us,” Pineda said. “We were just so thrilled to find out we made it with both films.”

The films were shot almost back-to-back last March, with very little time for rest in between. Georghiades said the teamwork between she and Pineda was crucial to the success of their work.

“We had worked together before but never in leadership roles,” Georghiades said. “And from the very first meeting, we both worked really well together. I don’t think I’ve ever worked in a team with someone where it just clicked that quickly.”

Pineda also stressed the importance of finding a team that works well together, not only to keep things running smoothly but to keep attitudes positive during the strenuous process.

“There are a lot of groups that just love to work on projects together, because they know how to communicate together,” Pineda said. “That communication is so important when you’re all
giving your time and creative input, because people could get really hurt.”

One of the biggest hurdles during production of the films was securing locations. For “Incident,” Pineda said finding a school willing to host a food fight was a challenge.

“We had to really search for a place that was going to let us throw food and put 50 elementary school-aged kids in their school,” Pineda said. “We secured the spot the day of the deadline we had set for ourselves to find a place, so it worked out. They completely trusted us to not ruin their cafeteria.”

The two vastly different films shared most of the same crew and were made within weeks of each other. Georghiades said the tight schedule would not have been possible without the versatility of the crew.

“We literally finished the food fight, rested for about a week and got right back up and started working on ‘Teleported Man,’” Pineda said. “We were all over the place. I think we had about six different locations. When you’re working 12-hour days and carrying around equipment, everyone’s tired, but everyone kept such a great attitude.”

With an almost endless list of duties, including casting, budgeting and securing locations, Pineda said one of her most important roles as a producer — and something she takes the most pride in — is keeping morale high to ensure the success of the films.

“It’s so important that everyone feels they are appreciated, because even with the smallest task, without the help of the crew I’d be totally screwed,” Pineda said. “But everyone was so pumped. I think the positivity leaked to everyone on the crew, and every day people were just so happy to be there and covered in mashed potatoes and broccoli and flour.”

Printed on Friday, October 19, 2012 as: Students score two spots in film festival