The Miner Movie Makers

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EL PASO — At the beginning of the school year in the fall semester of 2009, Bobby Gutierrez had an ambitious group of students in his Intro to Video class. Among those students were Stephanie Soto, Joel Gannon, and myself, Michael Huante. Through the course of the semester, the three of us worked on projects together and with other students, and forged a friendship that holds strong to this day.

Stephanie Soto, a senior Digital Media major, came up with an idea by the end of the semester, and told Joel and I about it. She expressed her thoughts on the fact that UTEP didn’t have much going in the area of film, and that something had to be done about it. With the Spring semester around the corner, the three of us met as much as we could and discussed starting a film organization at UTEP. Though our idea had been attempted before, we believed we could make it stronger and bring more students together who shared a love for film.

After days of discussions, writing articles and by-laws, and even more days trying to figure out the right name, the three of us finally started the Miner Movie Makers, an organization where students could meet, discuss, and create films. With the organization registration process completed and our advisor, Bobby Gutierrez, at our side, we were ready to announce the start of our new club.

It wasn’t easy of course. We lacked in equipment and scheduling conflicts narrowed our group down to under ten members, but nonetheless, it was a good start. Our first project was for a contest for Coca-Cola, in which we had to make a commercial that advertised how fun coke could make a restaurant, movie theater, or party. We got permission to film in a movie theatre for one night, and filmed for 4 hours straight. After two days of editing, our commercial was completed, marking the first project from the MMM, or as Mr. Gutierrez likes to call it, M³.

Though we did not win, we found that with the right help and connections, our organization was possible. More films were made through the Spring semester thanks to borrowed equipment the effort of our members, such as “Restroom Woes: The Legend of the Drippy Cheesy Burritos,” a comedy that went on to win Honorable Mention at the Sun City Film Festival, as well as a featured spot in the Border Shorts Film Festival. In the Summer, the MMM wasn’t willing to take any breaks. We went on to enter a contest for the Ghostlight 48-Hour Film Slam in which filmmakers all around El Paso came together to compete by producing a short film in 48 hours. The MMM made their next successful film, “According to Plan,” winning 2nd place in the contest. The film went on to be accepted as a showcase in the Good, the Bad, and the Indie Film Festival.

In the fall semester of 2010, the MMM returned with new members, creating several short films not yet entered in any contests, along with a still incomplete, but soon to be completed, short film entitled “All of the Above,” a film that will be entered into upcoming contests. As for the founders of the organization, Michael Huante went on to graduate in Fall 2010, with Stephanie Soto up next in Spring 2011. Joel Gannon will soon follow, leaving the future of the MMM unknown. With the new semester around the corner, the Miner Movie Makers are in search of new members who are interested in learning about how to make films, as well as create their own short films through collaborations with other students in the organization, and soon find hopeful successors to carry on what may very well be the first successful film organization at the University of Texas at El Paso.

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