Matthew Andrew's team created a film called "Abandoned," about four friends who discover an old mine shaft. [Courtesy of Matthew Andrew]

For the past six weeks, ten teams have been working on the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission’s latest filmmaking challenge: the Moab Monster Movie Mash. The films were due at midnight on Oct. 18, and will debut at a screening event at Star Hall starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 30.

“I cannot tell you how terribly excited I am about this whole thing,” said Bega Metzner, film commission director at the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission. “It’s so fun.”

The film commission partnered with Filmulate, an organization that hosts genre specific film festivals, to create the challenge. The ten teams—Red Scare, Comedy Sandbox, Eightch, Fear Fox Films, Shod in Freud Productions, Haunt Creek Productions, Studio 76, Moab Profilm Studios, Maledictus Productions, and Crown Jewel of Moab—had to make a film that fell within one of five genres: “cursed treasure in them hills,” “ghosts of the West,” “the devil went down to Moab,” “the beast from the red rocks,” or “the dark desert.”

Wyatt Brown, one of the filmmakers, has been making videos for fun since he was a kid, he said—when he makes films now, he usually sticks to horror and comedy. For the movie challenge, he and his team picked “the beast from the red rocks” as their genre.

“It’s basically about some friends who go camping on the side of an abandoned uranium mine,” Brown said. “And then things go awry from there.”

Matthew Andrew, another filmmaker and high schooler, is the founder of Moab Profilm Studios. He started getting into filmmaking in middle school. He decided to participate in the monster movie mash for the challenge—it was a chance to exercise his creative muscles, he said.

His film, titled “Abandoned,” follows four friends who discover an old box full of maps that lead them to an abandoned mine shaft.

“It’s a pretty basic concept, so I really wanted to emphasize a lot of the camerawork and the location,” Andrew said. Figuring out the acting was tricky, he said, since the actors are all his friends. He played around with the script to figure out what felt the most natural.

“We made it work in the end,” he said. Andrew directed and edited the film; his friends Molly Knowles and Justin Knight produced it.

In addition to following a genre, the teams had to include an enigma in their film—an individual element challenge such as a prop or a line of dialogue. Films had to be under 10 minutes.

The films didn’t have to be shot in Moab, but some familiar locations might pop up. The film commission secured filming permits for popular locations such as the Slickrock Bike Trail, Moonflower Canyon and the Fisher Towers.

Prizes will be awarded in a number of categories: best film, acting, directing, tale, death, atmosphere, scare, hero, editing, and sound; there will also be an audience award. Winners will receive a trophy, free entry to future Filmulate Fests, an opportunity to screen internationally and an option to be included in a feature film anthology. During the screening, there will also be Q&As with the teams.

The night before the movie mash screening, the film commission will screen “The Canyonlands,” which was shot in 2019 in the Moab area. It was created by Brendan Devane, who founded Sadieland Productions LLC, a production company based in Las Vegas. The fictional horror slasher film is about five people who go on a rafting trip down the Colorado River, but when they set up camp for the night, they’re terrorized by an evil presence. The film isn’t rated, but would be rated R for language and violence.

It’s never been screened in Moab before, despite being filmed here.

“Since we’re doing a horror movie genre fest, even though I hate horror, I thought that it’d be fun to be able to premiere it,” Metzner said.

The Canyonlands screening will take place on Oct. 29 at Star Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the screening will begin at 7 p.m. The 10 films made for the filmmaking challenge will premiere on Oct. 30 at Star Hall, starting at 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Event info

What: Moab Monster Movie Mash Screening

When: Saturday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m.

Where: Star Hall (159 E. Center St., Moab)