How This Movie Made it to The Silver Screens

Budding Filmmaker Moves to Front of ‘The Line’

Legend has it that the screenplay for “Star Wars” was rejected by 10 different studios before George Lucas finally sold it to 20th Century Fox. Florida State University graduate film student Matt Pope only had to suffer one such rejection for “The Line Starts Here,” the short film that just took top honors in Coca-Cola’s 2005 Refreshing Filmmaker Awards.

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“I submitted the same concept last year,” Pope says, “and didn’t even get selected as a finalist.” 

This year, he beat out 200 other students, impressing a panel of judges that included executives from DreamWorks and Blockbuster Inc., as well as Academy Award winner Matt Damon. Pope nabbed the $10,000 prize and the chance to have his film displayed on 21,000 movie screens nationwide.

Inspired by the diehard fans of “Star Wars” and other films of its ilk, the 50-second film follows one dedicated moviegoer’s commitment to camping out for months for tickets to a film called “Captain Lightning.”

“Unfortunately for him,” says Pope, “on the day that tickets finally go on sale, the zipper on his tent gets stuck and he can’t get out.” A beautiful cashier takes pity on him, however, and purchases a ticket on his behalf. In the final scene, the happy couple enjoys the flick – and a large Coke – together. 

Last fall, 10 finalists were selected from hundreds of proposals. Each finalist was given a $7,500 budget and a 10-week deadline to complete the project. The most difficult part of the process, Pope says, was telling a story within the required 50-second time limit. “Usually, the biggest challenges on a short (film) are financial resources and time to shoot, but we were given the money and plenty of time,” he says. 

The film was shot on location for three days at a local Tallahassee theater, sometimes until 3 a.m. There were about 25 crew members, as well as quite a few locals who came out to play extras in the crowd scenes. The diehard movie fan was played by New York-based actor Ptolemy Slocomb.  Tallahassee actress Carolina Phipps won the role as the kind-hearted theater cashier. 

Pope plans to move to Los Angeles and pursue a film career after his August graduation, perfectly timed with the release of “The Line Starts Here” in theaters nationwide.

Get a sneak peek at Pope’s award-winning film at