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A year's worth of hard work is about to reach fruition for a group of teen filmmakers, students in Spy Hop Productions' intensive Pitchnic course.

The yearlong program hits its finale with the Pitchnic Premiere program Thursday at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City.

The event will showcase four short films — two documentaries, two fictional films — developed over the past year. The students have to come up with concepts, pitch them to Spy Hop's instructors and industry pros, raise money from would-be executive producers, then collaborate on the writing, shooting and editing.

Here are details on the four films:

"Delayed" • Emalie Ruffy got the idea for her short comedy from her experience at another Spy Hop program, in which she took part in making a music video — and went with the band on a road trip.

"We thought, 'What would be funny? What if one of the lead singers got lost or taken?' " said Ruffy, 18, a recent graduate of the Academy of Math Engineering & Science (AMES), who will enroll in the Vancouver Film School in January.

Ruffy (who directed and produced), cinematographer Rowan Eyzaguirre and associate producer Jerome Lucas went out to Lone Rock, past Grantsville on I-80, to shoot "Delayed," an offbeat story about a band with a broken-down van — and more problems after that.

"I hope people laugh," said Ruffy. "I hope people think it's funny."

"Dinner" • Laela Omar started with the notion of making a documentary about how other cultures dine. But "I had trouble finding families that ate dinner together," said Omar, 17, a senior at Cottonwood High School.

So "Dinner" — directed by Omar, produced by James Hadden and shot by cinematographer Erin Cole — morphed into a documentary about the difficulties of finding time, in our fast-food society, to sit down and enjoy a meal together.

Omar sought out families from diverse ethnic backgrounds, networking with friends and other students to find interesting families.

"We're always in a rush," Omar observed. She said she hopes her film will "inspire people to slow down and share the simple rituals in life."

"River's End" • Mikkel Richardson's inspiration for the drama "River's End" came from a short story he wrote — based on his memories of a childhood friend who moved to Idaho and didn't tell him.

Richardson, 19, a graduate of Highland High School, came up with the story about a boy and his friend — who may or may not be imaginary — running away from home.

Richardson, producer Anna Berbert and cinematographer Rodrigo Arroyo shot the film primarily in downtown Salt Lake City, finding gritty locations for this dark drama.

"I really want it to be appreciated for what it is, which is a story of childhood friendship," Richardson said.

"Trashed" • Mallory McDaniel knows firsthand about what riches can be found in a Dumpster — because her mother often goes out "Dumpster diving" to find edible food and usable merchandise that retailers just throw away.

McDaniel, 19, a graduate of the Salt Lake School for Performing Arts headed for Salt Lake Community College, directed "Trashed," a documentary that examines how much gets tossed out, and what "freegans" will do to find it.

Shooting the documentary required some stealth. Cinematographer Connor Estes, 19, an Ogden High School grad in his freshman year at Weber State University, said the crew was only caught once — and the business owner's concern wasn't crime, but that the divers put back anything they removed from the Dumpster that they weren't taking home.

To shoot at night, the crew (McDaniel, Estes and producer Jon Tatum) purchased a bow-hunting night scope, which captured the action in low or no light.

One of the most interesting discoveries in the film is that some retailers take a razor blade to otherwise good merchandise before throwing it away — denying divers a treasure.

"I'm not asking everyone to go out and do this," McDaniel said. "It's an extreme movement. I want people just to be aware of what's out there, how much they're consuming."

Twitter: @moviecricket

Pitchnic Premiere

The ninth annual Pitchnic Premiere showcases four short films from Spy Hop Productions' intensive yearlong training program.

When •Thursday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m.

Where • Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, 138 W. 300 South, Salt Lake City

Tickets • $6.50, at and ArtTix locations

Information • Go to