RIT Shines at Sleepless in Lake Placid 24 Hour Film Competition

Film and animation students take home top prizes

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RIT students Harlan Doolitle, left; Christine Lodato, second left; Meghan Connolly, front left; and Chantal Massuh, fifth from left, seen here with judges, took three out of the four major categories at the Sleepless in Lake Placid Film 24 Hour Film Competition. 

Students from Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Film and Animation put on a gold-medal performance at the Sleepless in Lake Placid 24 Hour Film Competition.

A team consisting of RIT students Harlan Doolittle, Chantal Massuh, Meghan Connolly and Christine Lodato won three out of the four major categories at the film competition in June. The team’s film, Chet’s Pet, won for Best Film (Robin Pell Award) as well as the Audience Choice Award. Actress Cynthia Wilber won Best Actress for her role in the film.

“These four students demonstrated professionalism, production skills with tremendous creativity and I was very proud of them and to be a part of this,” says team adviser Dave Sluberski, who is a lecturer with RIT’s School of Film and Animation. “They maximize every minute in that period to tell a story in less than eight minutes that the audience and judges loved. They were a solid team.”

The teams were required to shoot and produce the film within 24 hours and had to include four specific elements.

“The rigor of our production curriculum prepares our students so well for these type of competitions,” says School of Film and Animation chair Malcolm Spaull. “The winning students are rising juniors but have already been involved in anywhere from five to 10 short film productions. In that way they are as efficient on the set as most professionals. Combine that with these particular students’ talent and sense of good story, and I am not surprised at all by their significant success at Lake Placid.”

The jury consisted of award-winning director Craig Macneill, writer and film and television director Gregory Orr, and Michael Gaston, veteran film and television actor. This was the sixth year the 24-hour film competition was held in Lake Placid.

“Although the competition threw many challenges our way, we learned really quickly that in order to be successful in such a short amount of time that we had to compromise differences and work with one another,” team member Chantel Massuh says. “There was no team leader, just a strong cohesive group.”