School of Theatre, Film Art U of A
University of Arizona

Four University of Arizona alumni and a group of Tucson filmmakers have been invited to compete as one of five teams in the first-ever Napa Valley Film Festival Sony 4K Film Challenge.

The prestigious film festival features major Hollywood studio premieres and more than 125 films from around the world. This year's festival also features a tribute to noted actor Colin Farrell, who will be among the celebrities attending.

Team Arizona, the only team from the state, will participate in the 60-hour Sony film competition, which runs Tuesday through Sunday.

The UA team members include recent graduates Mike Reasor and R.D. Mower, who earned degrees in acting from the UA School of Theatre, Film & Television this year; Samantha Kolko, a 2012 theater graduate with a minor in film and television; and Geri Courtney-Austein, a 2012 graduate in mathematics. Tucson filmmakers Scot Litteer, Marcus De Leon, Fred Porter and Ashley Maddox round out the team.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I really trust these filmmakers," said Reasor who, like his colleagues, is launching his acting career in Hollywood. 

On the first day of the festival, filmmaker teams are assigned a story genre – such as drama or comedy – along with a location, line of dialogue and a prop to incorporate into their five-minute films.

They then have until 9 p.m. on Thursday to write, film, edit, score and deliver their films. For the remaining three days of the festival, Team Arizona's film will screen in all festival theaters while an industry panel judges it.

"This sounds so incredibly exciting, I knew I just had to get the time off work and drive up from L.A," Courtney-Austein said. 

The winning film will be announced Nov. 17 during the festival's closing night gala. The film teams will be assigned brand new,Sony professional cameras, featuring revolutionary 4K technology.

"This is going to be insane. I'm very grateful to Scot for inviting me onto this team," De Leon said.

"We have the awesome UA cast, I know them all, and each of us filmmakers have areas of experience that should mesh really well in that extreme pressure environment," he said. "We feel like we're representing Southern Arizona filmmaking on a very big stage, and we want to be way ready with story ideas."

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