Event Review

Paul F. P. Pogue

Cast and crew members of Galatrax: Julie Hammerle, Matt Rozek, Andy Ahrens, Brian Klemesrud, Holly Halverson, Steph Johnson and John Hammerle

How to make short films, page one: Get some college buddies together and wing it. That's how local director Brian Klemesrud and his cohorts in Galatrax got started, attending Butler University by day and committing massive abuse of school property by night. It's just one of the handy tips picked up at Sunday's "Afternoon with Galatrax Pictures" at Hollywood Bar and Filmworks.

"We'd start at midnight and keep filming until 2 or 3 a.m. BK [Klemesrud] would call us all and tell us what to wear and where to meet," said John Hammerle, another of the five-person crew that includes Steph Johnson, Matt Rozek and Julie Hammerle. "We'd have no script, no budget, no idea what we were doing. We were making it up as we went along."

One of their shorts from that era, Rezko, was heavily reworked into the manically zippy Exit, converting a low-quality S-VHS video into a minor masterpiece that plays like Run Lola Run edited by Andy Warhol on crack.

"It shows the importance and power of editing on a film," John Hammerle said. "It's probably the most important part of the filmmaking process. It can make or break a film. For example, about one second of film equals about seven hours of editing work." Which, if you do the math, adds up to 1,000 hours of editing on Klemesrud's part.

Incidentally, I had seen the films already on DVD, but they really gain something on the big screen. Heck, I even liked Two more the second time around, picking up a new appreciation for its silent-movie construction. And you especially need the big screen to fully appreciate the lush, smoky atmosphere of The Death of Noir, which is a cover version of every femme-fatale-meets-private-dick film ever made, distilling the essence into 23 minutes of beauty in darkness and love in the shadows.

The Death of Noir has served as the group's primary calling card and attention-getter, garnering high praise at festivals and a run at Chicago's Biograph Theater.

Next up for Galatrax is Static, written by Johnson, about a woman who starts to go insane after a car accident and finds herself trapped between reality and fantasy.

The Death of Noir is available for viewing at www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2675173.

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