“Midnight Run” participants and Professor Machado pose for a group photo. Photo courtesy of Breonna Dull

Breonna Dull

Associate Features Editor

“This event, which was started in 2018, was designed to take our students out of the frying pan and into the fire,” said Professor Machado of the communication and theater department.

The Midnight Run film screening had its greatest turnout yet on Saturday, Feb. 11. Excited students gathered in McComsey to watch the finished short films from the competition. The videos are judged by six industry professionals on quality of video audio, editing, story, acting, creativity, and integration of criteria. The judges gave the participants high praise.

Each year there are three criteria: A character archetype, a prop, and a line of dialogue. This year, students were to incorporate a vampire, literally or figuratively, a candy bar, and the line “make sure you bring your receipts.”

Five groups of students participated in the overnight event that challenged the group to write, record, edit, and submit a short film in 24hrs. 

The first film, made by the Midnight Slayers, was a light-hearted comedy titled “A Vampire Diary.” The second film by Plugged Back Out was somewhat of a thriller with comical moments titled “10 O’clock News.” “Red Handed” by Sarah and Lauren, a suspenseful mystery, came third. Next, Global Marauders TV production group presented a comical mystery titled “Global Murder.” The fifth short film was a horror mystery by Slate and Caffenate titled “Sanguise.”

The first place winner of the competition was Plugged Back out, which also won the viewers’ choice award from voting. In second place was Slate and Caffenate and in third place was The Midnight Slayers. Students won different monetary amounts in gift cards to Nino’s pizza.

Gasser Abousaif, of the winning team Plugged Back Out, shared the group’s inspiration and experience.

“It’s really high speed, but that’s what makes it fun. You get really creative and like [Mr. Machado] said, it tests your problem-solving skills. You get to be as creative as you want to and test the limits of your imagination. It’s so much fun, I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to do it, even if you’ve never touched a video camera in your life.”

Members of the winning team “Plugged Back Out” smile after their competition victory. Photo courtesy of Breonna Dull

Years ago, Professor Machado attended an event at a bar in New York in which participants had 24 hours to craft a short film. He carried this experience into his teaching career in 2018 and continued the event every year (minus 2021 because of the pandemic). 

“When I started teaching at Millersville,” says Machado, “I thought it would be a good opportunity to benefit the students in an environment different from normal classes.” 

In a typical class assignment, most students procrastinate until the deadline. During this challenge, students are confronted with all the difficulties that occur during professional production work every day without the luxury of time.

“They learn the hard way that Production work is an exercise in critical thinking and problem solving. Every single choice you make from a creative decision to an aesthetic decision presents a problem that has to be solved and in the confines of 24hrs. You all have decisions to make.” 

This project also forces students to work together. School assignments are often completed solo or through group projects online. In person, the group must work out different roles, visions, and personalities to configure a final piece that appeases the whole group.

“It’s a collaborative business; every time you walk into a room to shoot there are problems to be solved. You constantly have to problem solve. It provides a sort of a real world simulation of the things that come up when you’re working collaboratively in production.”

Any student is welcome to join the event and try their hand at short films. If you are interested in participating in or watching the next Midnight Run event, please contact Professor Machado at james.machado@millersville.edu and follow the Midnight Run Facebook page.