Students make finals at festival

In Features
William Camargo / Daily Titan

The art of creating a film and piecing together a story lies in the compelling nature of the tale and the technical abilities applied.

Exhibiting their creations to an audience and a panel of judges, five Titans advanced to the final show at this year’s Media Arts Festival held at Cal State Fullerton on Nov. 10.

“It’s all about the storytelling,” said Shelley Jenkins, media arts liaison and a radio-TV-film lecturer. “If the story’s compelling and it’s entertaining to the audience, those are typically the ones that get through.”

Three Titans placed second in their respective categories: Kevin Lam in the animation category for his work in “Telly,” Jorge Perezchicain the experimental category for his piece called “Tragarsele La Tierra: Disappear into the Blue”; and Lauren Small in the narrative category for her piece “Grand Escape.”

They all came the closest to winning the $500 prize and the coveted Rose Bud award.

Natalie Rodriguez placed fourth in the screenplay category for her work in Wilson.

Scott Kazan placed third in the experimental category for his short film The War on Love.

The Media Arts Festival is a CSU-wide event designed to bring together the work of its students and have their projects critiqued by a panel of industry professionals, said Joanne Sharp, director of the Media Arts Festival.

“It gives students a chance to get feedback from a system-wide panel, but also to sort of see the best work being done in the CSU is,” said Sharp.

The festival stems from the Summer Arts program, which is another CSU-wide program involving artists who live and work together for 12 or more hours a day, she said.

This year’s keynote speaker at the event was Brannon Braga, the writer and executive producer of the Fox television series 24.

“He gave them some great info about how to get into the business and have a successful career,” Sharp said.

The students at the festival also noted the benefits of hearing from a professional in the film industry.

“He spoke in length about how to get your foot in the door and dispelling old hollywood myths that make it seem impossible, or by sheer luck, to get a career started,” said Perezchica, the second-place winner in the experimental category.

The elite prize of the evening, which garnered a tie, went to students from other universities.

Michelle Ikemoto of San Jose State University and Seth Craven of Cal State Long Beach tied for Best in Show at the event, the top honor prize of the evening that cashes in $1000.

Ikemoto won for her piece titled Tule Lake and Craven won for his piece titled Un-Armed Robbery.

CSUF student Scott Kazan, a senior, whose short film illustrated the challenging struggles gay couples contend against, said he relied on the talent of the actors to display emotion rather than technical special effects.

The film is an abstract concept about two male lovers who have to say goodbye to each other, Kazan said.

As the conversation became more intense, the editing and cuts became quicker, the film sped up. The idea was to make the audience uncomfortable while the story became more complex, he said.

“It’s set against the sound design that is meant to simulate warfare, gun fighting and conflict, and so that kind of represents the prejudice and hatred of society that’s kind of pulling them apart,” said Kazan.

While Kazan contends that other student’s films have more fun and use more special effects, his piece doesn’t fall short in trying to convey a serious or compassionate message.

“It’s a movie that’s actually trying to say something, that has a strong message,” Kazan said.

He praises the actors in his film, Adam J. Yeend and Leon Charles Farmer, who portrayed the characters in the story.

What the film lacked in special effects was made up for in the emotion that was sold to the audience with the actor’s performance, Kazan said.

“The way it was shot, it was pretty much two guys in a room together,” he said. “It all really depends on the actors.”

Kazan graduates this spring and plans on submitting other creations to the Newport Film Festival next year.

Perezchica shared the same sentiment about the films at the festival, noting the talent from other CSUs.

“Coming in second place in the experimental category was disappointing,” Perezchica said. “But overall, I felt the films that did win, deserved to win.”

Perezchica’s visual short “explores the theme of other,” and some of the visual metaphors like fertility, sex and religion are topics analyzed and amplified using experimental sound, color and time-lapse photography, he said.

“I wanted the film to imbue a surreal and trippy mood as if externalizing what’s going on from inside,” Perezchica wrote in an email.

Also appreciating the talent level of acting in his short, Perezchica notes theater student Ruben Carbajal, a freshman, impressed him. The emotion from his performance captured the theme of the film, he said.

About a week after the festival ended he received a letter from the judges, critiquing his film.

“(The Media Arts Festival) gave me an opportunity to watch my film with an audience and see their reactions afterwards.” the radio-TV-film major said. “There’s no way to get that kind of experience except from doing it, going through the motions and learning from the experience.”

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