Co-curricular Film Project Revolutionizes the Film Industry

Latino director Francisco Menendez accomplishes what no other film school has with the release of "Stealing Las Vegas"

By LatinoLA Contributor
Published on LatinoLA: August 30, 2012

Co-curricular Film Project Revolutionizes the Film Industry

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Co-curricular Film Project and Fisher Space Pen invite you and a guest to an upcoming Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival Showcase of "Stealing Las Vegas", a film directed by Francisco Menendez, and starring Eric Roberts, Antonio Fargas, Michael Tylo and Eloy Mendez.

Filmed on a whirlwind 18-day schedule, Stealing Las Vegas is a heist film focusing on a diverse team of casino workers determined to even the odds when their ruthless boss plans massive layoffs and cancels their pensions and insurance - all so he can offer a $20 million jackpot to revive the casino. Veteran actor Eric Roberts stars as Alex Stratholme, the greedy owner of the fictional Olympus casino.

The film, produced by Roger Corman and Warren D. Cobb, is the extraordinary co-curricular accomplishment of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), its Film Department, and students. In a bold initiative that began with the release of his short feature Medio Tiempo in 2001, writer/director Francisco Menendez, chairman of the Film Department at UNLV, created a program to bring together disciplines and resources across the entire community to enhance the students' educational experience and make professional films.

Academy Award honoree Roger Corman saw Menendez's co-curricular feature-length film "Primo" at the CineVegas Film Festival. After the screening, Corman contacted Menendez and asked him to direct a movie. Corman is renowned for fostering promising filmmakers. The many graduates of the "Corman Film School" include such Oscar-winning directors as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron and Ron Howard.

The Co-curricular film project partnered with Corman to produce Stealing Las Vegas. Half of the profits will fund Co-curricular Film Projects to train students. The primary goal of the film project is to model professional methods for students to bridge over into the film industry.

"Ever since I arrived at UNLV, I've wanted to create a program that would bring together our experienced faculty, visionary community, and talented students to create synergistic projects," Menendez explains. "When teachers guide, the community contributes, and students participate -- you get professional product. And everyone wins. Teachers get to demonstrate, it boosts the community, and students get cross-discipline, hands-on experience. Now that's synergy."

Plus -- the budget savings is unimaginable! Menendez smiles, "While other film schools are still trying to figure out how to fund feature-length projects, Stealing Las Vegas was made for the catering budget of most independent films." Yet the quality is state-of-the-art. Shot on High Definition RED cameras, the film stars Academy Award-nominee Eric Roberts, as well as Antonio Fargas, who created the role of television's Huggy Bear, and Michael Tylo (Lonesome Dove, The New Adventures of Zorro, The Young & the Restless).

The filmmaking process was supervised by industry professionals; more than 100 students (whose class schedules were accommodated) learned more about the professional set and digital work flow than they could ever be taught in class. "Through their direct involvement in the making of this film, the students came to understand the intricacies of a brand new production cycle that's revolutionizing the industry."

Stealing Las Vegas will be released on DVD on September 11, 2012 and can be pre-ordered on Netflix and Amazon.com.

Running Time: 87 minutes 35mm Color Dolby 5.1 Aspect ratio 1:78 Rating: unrated

For more information, please go to www.stealinglasvegas.com

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