A 2011 digital media production graduate from Southern Arkansas University and her husband have entered a “dark comedy” in the annual Louisiana Film Prize competition held in Shreveport, La. Their original short film, “Death Day,” has made it into the Top 20 and is vying for the $50,000 grand prize on Oct. 5-8.

According to a press release, Melissa and Josh Munds are competing among established filmmakers from around the country. Josh wrote and directed the film and Melissa was also the editor, assistant director and colorist. They both handled the cinematography. This was their first year to enter the Film Prize. They shot the film in six days with a crew of family and friends, and experienced firsthand all aspects of filmmaking.

The Louisiana Film Prize is an annual short film competition founded in 2012 by Gregory Kallenberg. The films must be shot in a predefined geography centered in Shreveport, and must have a runtime between five and 15 minutes. The grand prize winner receives $50,000, which is one of the world’s largest cash prizes for short films. Winners are determined by a combination of 50 percent judges’ votes, and 50 percent audience votes. There are also several grants in the amount of $3,000 each.

Prior to graduating with her BA in Digital Media Production in 2011, Melissa worked as a student in SAU’s communications center as a videographer and editor, helping establish video production capabilities for the University Communications and Marketing Department. “That training definitely helped prepare me for the job I have today, and our filmmaking pursuits, as well,” she said.

Josh went to school in Louisiana and worked on film sets during Melissa’s time at SAU. “We met on a movie set in 2008. It was my first time working as a background extra, and I got to know him over the week-long duration of filming. After that, we became inseparable.”

From 2015-2016, he wrote and directed a web series that Melissa filmed and edited. “We shot the second season at Millennium Studios in Shreveport, and the show picked up a buzz locally. We were also accepted into a handful of web festivals, including the Hollyweb Festival in Los Angeles. We decided we were ready to take it to the next level and take on short film production last year,” Melissa said. “Making the Top 20 of the Louisiana Film Prize is such an exciting adventure.”

They described “Death Day” as a dark comedy about a world where people are notified of the day and month of their eventual deaths via mobile technology. An unknown source releases this information at random, and history has proven it to be accurate. The catch is, people don’t know the year they will die. Every time that certain date comes around, panic typically ensues. “We focus on two characters who handle this information in different ways, and how our lead character overcomes his overly cautious lifestyle. It’s presented in a very light-hearted manner, despite its grim subject matter,” Josh said.

Finishing “Death Day” and entering the film in competition is “definitely important for our personal success,” Josh said. “Our main goal is the next project. If you get out of your comfort zone and meet as many people as you can, doors start to open.”

The couple would like to work in any medium of entertainment, Josh said. “We just really enjoy creating and putting on a good show.”

They said they would be thrilled to have support from SAU at the festival. Tickets as well as more information are available at www.PrizeFest.org.