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Meet Nate Buchik. The 22-year-old, who just graduated with a bachelor's degree in media arts from the UA, is the first winner of the Loft's First Friday Shorts yearly contest. Each month for the past year, filmmakers have been able to bring a short film, less than 10 minutes long, to the Loft, with the audience picking a $100 winner (among all the films not gonged after at least three minutes). On May 5, the audience got to choose among the 12 monthly winners, and the narrow winner was Buchik's Preaching the Word--a documentary featuring Buchik attempting to highlight hypocrisy and misguided doctrines from Christianity and the Bible, on the UA campus. The prize? A trip for two to the CineVegas film festival in June. Buchik, who plans on heading to New York City in August to pursue a career in filmmaking, sat down with the Weekly to discuss his triumphant victory, just before his college graduation.

How did Preaching the Word come into existence?

It was a class assignment to do a personal documentary. I had the idea, and then I was too scared to ever carry it out, so for quite a long time, I avoided it. I kind of procrastinated and put off the assignment.

What gave you the boost you needed to finally do it?

I think an approaching due date is all that made me do it. There was a class screening, and three days before that, I went out, and shot it and edited it in one day.

Were you accosted while you preached?

A few people were less than thrilled, but most of the people actually seemed pretty receptive.

In the film, you discuss your Lutheran upbringing. What ended up upsetting you about Christianity?

It definitely didn't have to do with being Lutheran. Just overall, I became disillusioned with the rigidity of some sorts of churches. It just seems like a lot of the Christians I was friends with were really rigid about their beliefs, and that just turned me off a lot.

What made you decide to enter Preaching the Word into the Loft's monthly contest?

I think I submitted something the very first month, a film that a friend and I did. It didn't get gonged, thankfully, and I thought this doc would do well. Some friends of mine thought it was pretty funny, and I figured that this would be the perfect showcase for it. A lot of stuff (at the monthly contest) is pretty silly, and some people don't put a lot of effort into it, but they enjoy it anyway, and that's cool. I thought (my film) might have a little more substance.

Going into the finals, did you think Preaching the Word had a chance of taking the grand prize?

No. I thought it was one of the better ones, but I thought it was kind of a toss-up, especially considering there was Naga Babas (a rather graphic film by "Dennis the Red" Eustace about a Hindu sect in India; the film shows what some Naga Baba men do with their genitals), which everybody loves.

Um, I wouldn't say everyone loves Naga Babas.

OK. Naga Babas, which a lot of people love.

So, what's the plan for Nate Buchik now?

Well, there's this film (I just showed) at the Loft (as part of the "I Dream in Widescreen" showcase by graduating MFA students on Friday, May 12). It's called On Call Teddy, and it's a narrative I just finished, and so I am hoping to get it into some festivals and see how that does--and that's about as far as I have thought. I've been working on this for nine months straight, and it's all that I've been thinking about; it was my capstone project for seniors. After the screening, I'll figure things out. I hope to make more short films; that's for sure.

What is it about short films that you like?

Instant gratification. Like I said, I shot (Preaching the Word) in a day and edited it, and a couple of days later, I could see how people reacted to it.

Have you ever been to Vegas before?

Yeah. I lose money every time. I lose lots of money every time. I am hoping to go to enough screenings so that I'll avoid casinos. I wouldn't say I have a gambling problem, because I don't do it enough, but ...

Dude, I hate to break it to you, but the screenings are in a casino.

(Sigh.) That's rough. I'll just set my eyes--you know what I mean--straight on the theater.

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