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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Life + Arts

Former Cougar gets ready for “Playtime” date at Sundance

The film “Playtime (Spielzeit)” by UH alumnus Lucas Mireles was inspired by a 1930s film titled “People On Sunday.” Mireles’ film focuses on German children, including one played by German actor Tim Lingen (above). | Photos courtesy of Lucas Mireles

The film “Playtime (Spielzeit)” by UH alumnus Lucas Mireles was inspired by a 1930s film titled “People On Sunday.” Mireles’ film focuses on German children, including one played by German actor Tim Lingen (above). | Photos courtesy of Lucas Mireles

 A UH alum who went off to Germany to study film is headed to Park City, Utah for the prestigious Sundance Film Festival this week to premiere a short film he directed during his time away.

“Playtime (Spielzeit),” the short film that Director Lucas Mireles shot in Cologne, chronicles life in the city by following several people throughout a Sunday afternoon.

Mireles, a current student at the University of California Los Angeles’ MFA film directing program, was given an opportunity to study German films in collaboration with the International Film School in Cologne. Mireles was one of four people — along with a fellow American and two Germans — who took part in the program.

“It turned into an experience that most people only dream of,” Mireles said.

For seven weeks, Mireles studied German life and films. The 1930s film “People on Sunday,” directed by Billy Wilder, inspired Mireles to make “Playtime (Spielzeit).”

Mireles fell in love with the city of Cologne and made his film a tribute to the city, the time he spent there, the people he met and the knowledge he gained from the experience, he said.

The world premiere of “Playtime (Spielzeit)” at Sundance is an accomplishment that Mireles described as wonderful.

“It’s every young filmmaker’s dream to show their works of art to the crowd at Sundance,” he said.

UH is where Mireles was first set loose with a camera, armed with his inspired mind and a desire to create. His first film was made for his digital cinematography class under the direction of professor Keith Houk, who still remembers Mireles as dedicated and passionate.

“As a student, Lucas had a drive and a dedication that set him apart from many of his contemporaries,” Houk said. “He always threw himself into every project with a passion and determination that I wish everyone had.”

Mireles was one of the first students to take the class, and which Houk said, really helped shape what the class could be.

“You could tell he wasn’t just finishing a project to get a grade and move one. He was treating each project as a stepping stone to a career,” Houk said.

“He has a great natural talent, but also has the understanding that it isn’t talent alone that gets you where you want to go. He understands you also have to work your tail off as well.”

During Mireles’ time at the University, he was quite involved with the community. At one point, like most college students, Mireles needed a job and found one at The Daily Cougar, selling ad space to companies. Needless to say, it was not something he was very interested in.

“After a very short time as an ad salesman, I left the office and walked next door (to the editorial office) and asked what else could I do for them,” Mireles said.

He began writing articles for the Opinion and Life & Arts sections of the paper. It became something he truly appreciated because it was another way for him to express himself.

“Opinion writing gave me a chance to write the way I spoke, which is something I missed out on (while) writing essays for school,” Mireles said.

Mireles received his bachelor’s in media production in 2006 and a master’s in mass communication studies in 2010 from the University.

Mireles is currently focusing on the promotion of “Playtime (Spielzeit),” but he has other projects in pre-production including UCLA’s first-ever three-dementional action film.

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  • I saw the film about a week ago at Sundance, and I must say, it is exceptional. Lucas is one extraordinary talent. Hey, whacha got in that Texas water that turns out so many great directors?…..Edward Sedgwick, Jesús Treviño, Richard Linklater, Robert Rodriguez, Tobe Hooper, Julian Schnabel, Terrence Malick, John Phillip Santos, Rob Bowman….and now Lucas Mireles??? I see great things in store for this fella, and he's such a nice person…my wife and I got to meet him at the Yarrow Theatre screening in Park City. Be proud, Houston!!!

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