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Prize-winning, one-minute film features pug alien and plenty of DIY effects

Pemberton’s Matt Krumins won CFOX’s $10,000 One Minute Movie contest with recreation of E.T.
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As part of helping Lola the pug star as E.T., Elena Aranguren dressed in all black to blend into the background.

Turns out a pug named Lola makes a perfect stand in for E.T.

The Pemberton pooch—and her owner, Matt Krumins—recently nabbed first place in CFOX’s $10,000 One Minute Movie contest. 

“It was pretty obvious Lola, our pug, needed a part,” Krumins says. “Then I started thinking, ‘OK, how can Lola be a character and not just a pug.” 

The other factor Krumins had to consider when choosing what movie to recreate and pare down for the radio station contest was who was in his bubble—his wife, Elena Aranguren, and his brother, Mitch Krumins. 

E.T. was a favourite movie of mine growing up,” he adds. “I knew there were a lot of people who had seen it. For a competition like this, it’s best if people already know the movie.” 

Krumins had the right formula because, in the end, he beat out nearly 350 other submissions from across the country to win the top prize of $10,000. (The only other prize was a $1,000 Fan Favourite Winner and that went to a Claymation version of The Big Lebowski, called The Short Lebowski.) 

“When I saw the top 10 I was like, ‘Holy geeze. This is pretty amazing,’” he says. “I knew I had a shot when I was in the top 10. Getting first prize, it was the first, first prize of any of my filmmaking [projects].”

Krumins has been making movies since he was a kid in high school in Ontario. He’s continued working on projects ever since as a “veteran amateur filmmaker,” he says. 

Award-winning money aside, it felt like a huge deal to have a panel of judges—not just friends and family—offer a stamp of approval. 

“It really makes it all worthwhile,” he says. “When my friends and family like it, that’s a huge thing … I have it on YouTube and it has close to 2,000 views now, so I know people are enjoying it.”

He suspects what set him apart in this project was his DIY, non-digital special effects. 

His spaceship was made of duct and tuck tape, tin foil, and a lamp; E.T.’s glowing heart was a headlamp on red setting; and gates rising behind the little critter were actually racks from the oven. 

“We do own a fog machine,” he adds. “I use that quite a bit in my filmmaking because it adds ambience. But making those little effects was a lot of fun.” 

Adding to the sweat-and-tears element, Krumins even learned to play the song for the film himself. 

“I have a keyboard, but I don’t know how to play the piano,” he says. “I just mess around with it. It took me about a week—and a YouTube video on how to play the theme song.”

While all the actors played an important role, Lola clearly stole the show. “She did really well,” he says. “She’s quite old now. She enjoys sitting and staring blankly at us or whatever is going on. It was perfect because E.T. is that same way. At the beginning of the movie, he’s observing.” 

As for the prize money, Krumins says it will go towards practical bills first and a sauna second. 

“It’s a huge help, especially right now,” he says. “Like most people, it’s tough times … [It will] mostly be practical, but I keep saying I’m going to buy a sauna. I really feel like I need one.” 

With a prize-winning project behind him, Krumins is working next on something completely new. 

“I always have something on the go,” he says. “I’m remaking a movie I did in high school with my high school friends. But it’s not a movie; it’s an audio podcast … I’m dependent on my friends back home to sit down and record their stuff, but I thought it was fun for COVID. No one has to get out to do it.”