As We See It

Native Las Vegan Jeremy Cloe won a student Oscar—and could win the real thing

Spencer Burton
Jason Harris

“And the Oscar goes to ...” is a line native Las Vegan Jeremy Cloe might hear with his name attached at the next Academy Awards. In a way, he already has. The now LA-based filmmaker recently won one of 15 Student Academy Awards for his 28-minute short This Way Up, which he shot while at the American Film Institute. That win made his film eligible for a full-on Oscar nomination in the category of Best Live Action Short Film.

“Films all over the world submit and then they narrow them down,” the 28-year-old director says. “I think this year there were almost 1,700 films submitted. I was actually pretty shocked when I was a semifinalist. So winning is pretty surreal.”

This Way Up follows Charlie, a man in his 50s who has been homeless for a few months. When his daughter decides to visit, he has to do everything he can to fool her into thinking he still has a nice house. The concept is based around the homeless population living beneath the surface in Las Vegas’ storm tunnels, a subject Cloe has been familiar with for years. “I grew up skating in storm drains, but had never explored too deep inside until I was about 16. That was a feeling that really stuck with me. It felt like you could just disappear down there and nobody would know.”

Cloe’s production team built a 120-foot replica storm tunnel and a miniature version to shoot a flood tearing through, in the film’s climactic scene. That’s truly ambitious for a $60,000 budget that came together through AFI, a Bridges-Larson grant and crowdfunding.

Whatever happens next, This Way Up is a step up for one of Vegas’ most notable filmmakers.

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  • “Compared to my Ohio life, people are more positive here, more responsive to literary things.”

  • “We break down all the barriers that led them to become homeless, so they can become self-sufficient and sustain on their own.”

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