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Shira-Lee Shalit the eighth finalist eliminated from Fox's 'On the Lot'


By Christopher Rocchio, 07/10/2007 

Shira-Lee Shalit, a 38-year-old acting teacher from Johannesburg, South Africa, was revealed to be eighth finalist eliminated from On the Lot during last night's live broadcast of the Fox reality filmmaking competition series. 

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Similar to the previous two eliminations, On the Lot host Adrianna Costa told Shalit of her fate last Wednesday -- less than a day after last Tuesday night's screening of Open House, her horror short about a couple house-hunting when something unexpected happens to the pregnant wife.  A video clip of Shalit learning of her elimination -- which Costa said was the result of a "very close vote" -- then aired during last night's On the Lot broadcast.

"This experience has changed the way I direct for the better," said Shalit after she learned that her film had received the lowest number of viewer votes and she'd been eliminated from the competition.  "It's sad to leave, but it's also what's next.  This is not the end."

After the premiere of Shalit's original horror short last week, she was aware that directing scary movies wasn't her strong suit and that comedy was instead her forte.  Shalit's shortcomings in the horror genre were also not lost on the On the Lot judges.

"It really didn't scare me that much," On the Lot judge Carrie Fisher told Shalit after her short premiered last week.  "It's a hard sell to sell ghosts during the day.  I mean maybe I'm old-fashioned, but if a ghost appeared in-front of me in the day I'd probably offer it a soda or something.  On that level I didn't think it really worked."

Hostel director and last week's On the Lot guest judge Eli Roth -- who knows a bit more about the horror genre that Fisher -- still agreed with the show's permanent judge in critiquing Shalit's short.

"I felt that if you're doing daytime ghosts... I felt like you were forcing the music and it felt kind of cliche-ridden," commented Roth before complimenting Shalit on the ending of her short.

"There was no conflict," said Fisher's fellow permanent On the Lot judge Garry Marshall.  "So I think your better suit was comedy."

After revealing Shalit's elimination, On the Lot's live broadcast screened new five-minute films shot by five of the show's remaining Top 10 finalists.  The film's were based on the story idea of "When Two Worlds Collide," and each of them were filmed over the course of five days on Universal Studio's back lots. 

The five aspiring directors who premiered their new films were Will Bigham, a 31-year-old film editor from Glendale, CA, whose film Spaghetti followed a modern couple who gets lost in a spaghetti western; Hilary Graham, a 37-year-old stay-at-home wife and mom from Francestown, NH, whose film The Legend of Donkey-Tail Willie was a fairy tale about a couple that is united by their differences; Zach Lipovsky, a 23-year-old special effects editor from Vancouver, BC, Canada, whose film Time Upon A Once focused on a couple who learns their new neighbors are a little bit backwards; Adam Stein, a 29-year-old freelance film editor from Los Angeles, CA, whose film Worldly Possessions was about a greedy suburban couple that accidentally receives a military package; and Shalini Kantayya, a 30-year-old freelance director from Brooklyn, NY, whose film First Sight was about a young woman who learns a life lesson in an unusual way.

Once the five aspiring directors premiered their new films, Fisher said her favorite was Stein's Worldly Possessions; Marshall liked Graham's The Legend of Donkey-Tail Willie; while last night's guest judge -- The Girl Next Door director Luke Greenfield -- said he was a fan of Lipovsky's Time Upon A Once.

During next week's On the Lot broadcast, which will air in the show's normal time period of Tuesdays at 8PM ET, two of the five aspiring filmmakers will be eliminated based on viewer votes cast after last night's episode. 

In addition, the five other members of the Top 10 -- Mateen Kemet, a 41-year-old teacher from California; Jason Epperson, a 30-year-old film production company owner from Winchester, KY; Andrew Hunt, a 31-year-old promo producer from Minneapolis, MN; Kenny Luby, a 28-year-old freelance director and painter from Owego, NY; and Sam Friedlander, a 27-year-old web producer from Santa Monica, CA -- will premiere their new five-minute action films, which will also be shot over the course of five days on Universal Studio's back lot. 

Then During On the Lot's Tuesday, July 24 broadcast, two of those aspiring filmmakers who are to air their action shorts next week will be eliminated, revealing the Top 6 finalists.

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