CF grad’s film featured on IPTV

“Spaceman,” a short film CF grad Tarrell Christie created with Luke Kreger staring Lakin Mims was featured recently on Iowa Public Television’s Film Lounge.

In 2007, a young Tarrell Christie watched a YouTube video, “The Making of Movie.” He dreamed about one day being a filmmaker. A fews years later, Christie joined the broadcast journalism class at Cedar Falls High School, formed a crew of collaborators and began making films that are now winning statewide acclaim.

“It was something that I never thought of as a job, but it turned into something that I could share with friends and family and people, which is what really inspired me,” said Christie, who is now finishing his Digital Media degree this spring at the University of Northern Iowa.

Christie and high school classmate Luke Kreger first started to create short films in the genre of horror in the ninth grade under the name “Fear Filmz” and “Cannibal Crow Filmz.” In high school, Christie and Kreger created LT Shorts, a film series they put on YouTube. 

Christie has fond memories filming and directing for LT Shorts in the halls of Cedar Falls High School. 

“I remember there was a short film we did where someone had to fall down the stairs. We went to the top floor of Cedar Falls High School, and we stuffed a hoodie and some pants with newspaper and we threw it down the stairs. It was so crazy but also so funny,” Christie said. 

Christie also got a grasp for his passion to build sets for his short films. 

“The most fun thing at LT shorts was my senior year, and we build an actual cardboard city for a short film and ran all over it like Godzilla. Ever since I was a kid I have always wanted to do that,” he said. 

Over time, Christie gained recognition for the work he has uploaded to the Internet.

“Before YouTube, the only way I had to share my videos was to copy a VHS and give it to people, but YouTube was really great for me to realize I could share it with so many people and they could share it onward,” he said. “I remember making stuff on YouTube in the early days and people started to come up to me and say ‘the stuff you are doing is really cool,’ which really connected me to filmmaking,” Christie said.  

Christie accumulated skills through his high school career as a broadcast staff member on the Tiger Hi-Line, which helped prepare him for future jobs. 

“I was really bad at procrastinating in high school and had a hard time handing things in on time, but the class really helped set those deadlines like ‘you have two weeks to finish this or a month to do this’ being in that structure really helped,” he said “The skills I learned also boosted my skills so much for the future, and it is crazy to see the difference from the stuff I made in high school to the things I am making now,” Christie said. 

Presently, Christie has produced dozens of short film and skits on his co-owned independent filmmaking company Lost Utopia Films with Kreger. Their most recent creation, “Spaceman,” took eight months to produce. “Spaceman” won five awards, including an Official Selection for Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Film Lounge,” which was broadcast in February. 

Christie enjoys each part of filmmaking, even if it is challenging at times. 

“When I am in each stage of making a film, I love each part. Directing overall is my favorite part because you are on set and seeing things you dreamed up coming alive,” he said.  

With Christie’s awarded work and passion for filmmaking becoming recognized, he said he feels the need to improve every film he produces.

“I think that when someone says, ‘Oh your stuff actually doesn’t suck,’ you start to feel that pressure that it has to be good now and try to one up myself,” he said. 

After he graduates from the University of Northern Iowa, Christie plans to keep making films and expand his knowledge even further. “I will be trying to be making connections to better my skills and make movies. In the long term I do want to make it out to the West Coast because that is where a lot of people I would like to work with are,” Christie said. 

Christie’s recommendation for aspiring filmmakers come from the lessons he learned in his high school broadcast journalism class. “Join a class that allows you to be creative consistently. When you have deadlines, it allows you to go out and shoot something out of your comfort zone and make quality content. Also, build a team of people that are going to support you because you can’t go at it as a one-man army,” he said.  

Watch Lost Utopia Films here:

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