Dallas Director Brett Bentman's Trailer for NASA Based Short Film "Umbra"

It’s possible that no one has ever seen the UNT film editing labs as the perfect setting for a film scene that takes places in a NASA control room. But it’s what Dallas-based director Brett Bentman saw while scouting locations for a NASA based short film called Umbra.

If you’re a fan of looking at awe-inspiring images provided by NASA then Umbra should especially interest you. The Houston Cinema Arts Society provides filmmakers an opportunity to use NASA footage to tell stories that encourage space exploration. Bentman’s company, Circus Wheel Productions, seized this opportunity and toured NASA’s Houston facilities and met with a few executives.

As you can imagine, it’s a hefty price to obtain permission to film inside NASA’ base of operations, and Jerry Bruckheimer, Bentman is not. He reached out to UNT’s media arts department and made contact with chairman Eugene Martin. Within days of making contact he was provided a tour by Marielena Carpanzano, an administrative specialist who also coordinates special events and mentors media arts students.

Quick decisions were made and Bentman filmed key scenes for Umbra on UNT campus this past April. Not only did he film Umbra in Denton, he utilized UNT students Jordan Wright, Chelsea Beeson, Natalie Pence, and Seth Gamez to fill key roles related to production design and production management.

Bentman can only speak glowingly of the students who helped him with important aspects of production. “My biggest takeaway from UNT… it’s refreshing to see the young people coming out of school that are going to be the next wave of talent,” Bentman says. “They’re so fresh and ready to work. You don’t see that in the industry a lot.” Marielena was on set for the Denton shoots and adds, “our students were so well-trained they were ready to do what’s needed without being told how to do it.

There are kids here in town that are ready to walk onto a set of a major production because they’re devoted to the creative process of filmmaking. There’s potential for this area to become a filmmaking destination, and Bentman is at the front of that scene. He’s been awarded Texas director of the year by Austin Revolution Film Festival the past two years.

Bentman knows there are many people who can make a film on a short turnaround and then send a rushed product to festivals. He urges young filmmakers to put in more work at the preparation and post-production stages to make the final product something special. Bentman advises, “it’s more important to know how NOT to make a film than how to make a film.” People see Austin as the Texas destination for filmmaking, but it’s not necessary to take all the productions there. We’ve got locations in Denton that can be used for cinematic purposes.

Bentman shared his finished film at UNT as a special treat in addition his screening of Pale. 

We’re thrilled to share the following trailer for Umbra. If you’ve been to UNT, try to count all the scenes you can see were filmed locally.