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By Adriana Rolston

An ambitious fellowship of seven first-year Ryerson film students put Toronto on the map when they won best picture in the 48 Hour Film Project for their seven-minute long flick entitled “The Hall.”

Under the name Hungry Camera Company — inspired by the Bell and Howell cameras that ate classmates’ work during their first production assignment — they took home seven awards on Nov. 2 at Bloor Cinema, including best cinematography, editing, writing, lead male and female actors and audience choice.

“It was like our little Oscar moment,” said Larissa Walkiw, who was involved in the creative aspect of the film. “We didn’t really have expectations, but we were all really pleasantly surprised.”

The group also won a membership with Women in Film and Television, $500 for post production services with Deluxe Studios software and the opportunity to represent Canada for the first time at Filmapalooza, Miami’s International Film Festival, in March.

The team is currently making additional edits to their film as well asfundraising for the event. “We’ll go on a road trip in a crappy van if we have to,” said director and writer, Stephen Dunn.

“It’s our baby,” added Walkiw.

The crew also consisted of Alex Fox as production coordinator, Kyle Sanderson directing photography and editing, Laura Asselin, Rodrigo Barriuso and Scott Matthews.

The 48 Hour Film Project is in its eighth year and recently added Toronto to its list of cities eligible to compete.

The premise is to create a film in one weekend, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday and ending 7:30 p.m. on Sunday. It must include a genre, character, prop, and line of dialogue randomly chosen at the outset of the competition. Along with providing a registration fee and assembling your gear and crew, spots to compete are limited.

Dunn had already started to consider entering the 48 Hour Film Project in September before classes started. He first got wind of it through Toronto’s producer of the project, Polly Washburn, while in line purchasing Toronto International Film Festival tickets.

After announcing the prospect in his film classes, a team of students formed to meet and arrange equipment, locations and film options prior to the competition weekend of Oct. 24 to 26.

“We were preparing for like 40 possible films,” said Dunn. But his stomach sank when he glimpsed one of the only genres they weren’t primed for, detective cop.

Over the course of the first night, Dunn and Sanderson were awake until 4 a.m. coordinating plans for filming as Dunn nailed down the concept for “The Hall.”

Shot almost entirely in a borrowed apartment on Princess Street, the story follows detective Martin Holligan, played by Dan Cristofori, in his admirable attempt to bestow a birthday gift upon his secret crush across the hall, Olive, performed by Lauren Breuer. A giant owl becomes an obstacle for Martin, which symbolizes his insecurities.

“Its more of an internal owl,” said Dunn, who enjoys the fantasy and folklore element. The feathered outfit was a rental from Malabar Costume Shop.

On Sunday, the Hungry Camera Company almost lost the race to drop off the final product when they realized that the ending was cut off. They rushed with laptops in tow to the drop off location at Bloor and Bathurst.

“We were burning in the cab until the moment we got there,” said Dunn, laughing.

Considering the pressure, Walkiw believed everyone worked remarkably well together, and the Hungry Camera Company will pursue future projects.

“It’s definitely a source of motivation to know that we can accomplish something like this on our own,” she said.

“It just opens so many doors.”

Dunn felt that some close relationships emerged between his classmates during this experience and that Ryerson provided a space to meet other creative, ambitious individuals.

“Doing the 48 Hour Film Challenge allowed us to all work together towards something beyond what was typically expected of first year film students,” he said.

The team plans on submitting the film to other Canadian and international film festivals.

“We all think ‘The Hall’ has legs and can carry itself,” said Dunn.

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