August 26, 2019
Members of New Mexico’s film industry were on stage at Ilfeld Auditorium Aug. 25 to encourage the middle and high school participants in New Mexico Highlands University’s “Film on a Phone” summer camps as they debuted their projects to a live audience. Presented by the Las Vegas Arts Council and New Mexico Highlands, the screenings were part of a weekend tribute to film in Northern New Mexico.
The camps, which were fully sponsored by Joe and Martha McCaffery and Leveo Sanchez, chairman of the Highlands Board of Regents, taught students how to create one- to two-minute films using only their smartphones for shooting and editing. The results ranged from horror to political statement to stop-motion. Walmart donated gift certificates to the winning teams, the suspenseful “Flies on the Wall” from the high school filmmakers and the animated “Reach for the Stars” from the middle schoolers.
Leon Bustos, interim director for the Highlands Undergraduate Enrichment Program, spearheaded the camps, which included Highlands media arts program undergraduate Daniel Ulibarri and graduate student Jayme Garcia as instructors.
“It was beautiful to see the students’ work showcased on the big screen at the historic Ilfeld Auditorium,” said Bustos. “I never thought in my life that I would have an opportunity to work with students making films, and it has shown me a whole new appreciation for the art of filmmaking. I hope to see this type of initiative continue and expand over the next few years and would love to help in any way that I can.”
Guest speakers Lisa Lucas, Emmy award-winning producer, filmmaker and actress; Dirk Norris, executive director of the New Mexico Film Foundation; and filmmaker Cindy Kemp, whose independent short film “Stardust Memories” was also screened on Sunday, encouraged the students and provided valuable tips for continuing their work in the blossoming New Mexico film industry.
Plans are in motion for summer youth camps at NMHU next year.