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Summerlin-area filmmakers win awards for pie fight in short film

It's a classic pratfall -- a pie to the face -- parodied to new heights.

"Pie" was one of the short films shown at the Vegas Cine Fest Film Festival in August at the Tropicana. "Pie" ramps up the energy with a pie fight that resembles a Mafia bloodbath with a dose of kung fu movie elements mixed in just for fun.

Winners were announced in mid-September. The Summerlin-area filmmakers who created "Pie" were not nominated for any Vegas Cine Fest awards but garnered a best director nomination at the 2011 Maverick Movie Awards in Hollywood. "Pie" also was nominated for the "Precious Award" (best idea or moment in a film for the "kiss the cook" bit). It also took the Silver Ace Award from the 2011 Las Vegas Film Festival and received an honorable mention from the 2011 Los Angeles Movie Awards.

The three creators of the six-minute short, Michael Tushaus, Bryan Wiersma and Troy Pavuk, are all carpenters for the Cirque du Soleil show "KÀ."

It was while waiting behind the scenes in September 2010 that the premise for the film cropped up in casual conversation. It soon evolved from a simple pie-in-the-face idea to a tongue-in-cheek gangland face-off. The three went on YouTube to see what videos had been done before, using the theme.

"Most were single takes," Wiersma said. "Ours was a 12-hour shoot ... we put plastic on the whole warehouse floor. We didn't want to ruin the stage with red and blue berries and stuff."

It took months to block each move and plan each shot. Planning was vital, as the site of the shoot, a warehouse, was only on loan for one day, and clothing, makeup and hair would be ruined as soon as the cameras started rolling.

By winter they were ready to shoot it.

The planning paid off. Everything went according to the storyboards. The shoot took 12 hours, and only one man's scene didn't turn out as planned, requiring another take.

"But fortunately, he cleaned up easily," Tushaus said.

The filmmakers used two high-definition cameras and a dozen actors, all of whom worked pro bono. Tushaus' wife, Karen Cornejo, was the costumer. Much of the budget was spent on whipped cream and shaving cream. The latter films better, but the real stuff was used for the to-the-face pie assaults.

"We went to the dollar store for just about everything," Pavuk said.

Actually, the film cost about $1,000 to make, which included props, costumes, warehouse rental and catering for the cast for the day. Another $1,000 has gone into marketing and film festival entries.

"Pie" has no lines. It doesn't need them. And the editing combined with the throbbing soundtrack -- from the jack-of-all-trades Tushaus -- gives it just the right touch.

Philip Marcus, who founded Vegas Cine Fest with his wife, Maria, said it's important for film festivals to contain some humorous entries.

"You go to a lot of film festivals, and the films they show, they're very inspiring ... they're documentaries, they help out charitable causes. But after you see some of those, you go, 'Is anything going to make me smile?' " he said.

There's no lack of smiling at "Pie." For more information or to view "Pie," visit

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at or 387-2949.