The long life of a short film

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Jason Berman will pick up the finished copy of the film today. This weekend, he will premiere the movie in Los Angeles for the cast and crew. On Tuesday, the makers of "RIFT" will fly to Baltimore, where the people who made the film financially possible will see it for the first time. On Thursday, they will fly to Steamboat Springs, where "RIFT" was filmed, and premiere the 35 mm version at Mountain Movie.

Thus begins what Berman calls "the long life of a short film."

In May, five film students came to Steamboat to shoot the 28-minute story of a teenager named Donny who escapes his abusive family by creating a utopian world in his mind.

The film is director Sam Goldberg's graduate thesis at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, and the other participants -- producers Berman, Richard Rosen, Jason Schuster and Aaron Biller -- will use it as a calling card to start their careers.

The students are excited to show their film to the people who made it happen. Their credit list includes the Steamboat Springs Police Department, Alpine Taxi -- which transported the 40-person crew -- and the people who allowed them to shoot in a long list of locations. Those locations included Vista Verde Guest Ranch, Johnny B. Good's Diner, the alley behind The Steamboat Smokehouse, Steamboat Springs High School, the Clark Store and Fish Creek Falls.

"Shooting in Steamboat was a ton of fun," Berman said. "We had incredible locations, and it gives the film a distinctive look. I think people in Steamboat will get excited when they see places they recognize on the big screen."

Berman is proud of his first film, which took $70,000 and the better part of a year to make.

The past seven months have been an education for Berman, he said.

"I think a lot of people don't realize how hard it is to make a movie. As a producer, there is so much that needs to be taken care of, like feeding the crew and moving lights. A lot of it is not as glamorous as you might think."

The crew worked 12-hours days, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and sometimes worked 12-hour nights. "This film taught me how it really is," Berman said.

The crew shot 23,000 feet of film. After edits, the actual film measured 2,000 feet.

Berman is a sophomore at USC. For his first semester, this film was "pretty much my life," he said.

He ran film errands between classes and helped to fund raise when the film went over its $50,000 budget.

Next May, Berman said he plans to return to Steamboat and shoot another, smaller scale film with 16 mm, and he has plans for a big-budget studio film with the backdrop of a ski town.

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