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UNLV film students aspire to break into movie business

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Posted at 9:46 AM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-09 13:37:50-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — UNLV students sitting in Professor Brett Levner's classroom learn the ins and outs of building a film crew. Beyond the pen and paper, the students have big dreams of breaking into the film industry.

UNLV's Department of Film has the tools students need to make those dreams happen.

RELATED: 13 Action News celebrates The Oscars with a look at film and Las Vegas

"I think UNLV's best resource for film is having like-minded film students here to work with you," said Thomas Reymond, a film major at UNLV. "It's definitely nice to have courses and passionate professors and equipment that perhaps not everyone can afford."

Reymond was born in Paris and raised in the South of France before moving to Las Vegas to pursue his dreams about six years ago.

In class, aspiring filmmakers practice their skills behind a camera to create a resume of projects to submit to film festivals or to show to future employers.

"Last semester I did a comedy, this year I'm doing an action... so I would love to do a documentary," said Brendan Little, a dancer and film major at UNLV.

Even as a student, big ideas can require big money. That's where grants and scholarships can come into play. UNLV alumna Alyson Arsen and her partner are creating a feature film named "Crave" with the help of award funds. The film will feature artists across the country that promote social movements.

"We received the Johnny Brenden award from UNLV. It's about $5,000 that they're giving us to help create a feature-length film," Arsen added. She says without that help, her vision may not have become a reality.

Students can apply for local grants through the Nevada Arts Counciland Nevada Humanities. If the funding just isn't there, don't be too discouraged. Professor Levner says with a good story to tell and a phone, you can still make movie magic.


Once students graduate, what's the next step?

Nowadays, you don't have to move to Los Angeles to be successful. Las Vegas' film scene is growing, with production jobs posted daily on sites like StaffMeUp.com.

"Las Vegas is most likely going to be the next LA because people are moving out of LA and coming here for more film opportunities," Arsen said.

UNLV's Department of Film is just the tip of the iceberg for local film opportunities and workshops.

There are also film classes at CSN and Nevada State College.

Companies like Indie Film Factory offer workshops and classes.

If money is a concern, students are encouraged to attend or volunteer at local film festivals. The Las Vegas Film Festival, Nevada Women's Film Festival, the Dam Short Film Festival and the Las Vegas Queer Arts Film Festival often provide educational film panels for the price of a ticket.

13 Action News is celebrating the 92nd Academy Awards with stories related to the film industry this week. The Oscars will air on KTNV-TV Channel 13 at 5 p.m. Sunday.