Two-time first place winner of PCC’s 72 Hour Films competition Moses Navarro—Agent 22 to his PCC friends—recently transferred to UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. And with a little help from his friends, he is moving into the working world as well.
Although his first semester at UCLA has been an intensive experience so far, Navarro found that he had been prepared by a similar program that is already in place at PCC.
“It’s very hands on. Everyone gets to rotate to get to experience a new crew position,” Navarro said. “The class is meant to be an intense learning expense—you get to direct, become assistant camera, you get to do sound work—you rotate to get those experiences.”
Slick as a spy and undaunted by time constraints and fast-paced working conditions well learned on the 72 Hour film competition, he was tasked to write a five page script for his final and direct it on-the-fly.
“You only have two and a half hours to film your script,” he said. “So if you are not coming in prepared, you lose time.”
Although now centered many miles west from Pasadena, Navarro has not strayed too far away from the core group of friends he has come to work with from PCC. He continues to work closely with fellow PCC alums Ana Maria Manso, Laila Hajjali and Alexander Dunn, among many others, who are affectionately known by Manso as the B-Flat Family. B-Flat is an acronym which stands for a film preparedness check list initiated by their PCC film professor Lindsey M. Jang.
Although UCLA has ties with major and independent studios that are willing to provide internships to their film students, Navarro has been working at On The Mark, a camera and lighting rental studio in Glendale.
“It really all happened, I guess I could say, through networking,” he said. “Laila [Hajjali] and I have been working together for years now…and Ana Maria Manzo and Alex Dunn. We all went through the PCC program. Whenever one of us has a [paid] gig, we have a tendency to reach into our PCC network.”
It was Manso, now at Cal State LA, who began developing clientele and making a name for herself and working at the rental studio. She brought them all together for their collaborative efforts for an ongoing music video project. The team also worked together on various Panda Express training films, where Navarro was an actor as well.
“I was able to pull a lot of my friends, the B-flat family,” she said, laughing. “I try to bring as much of the PCC family wherever I work and whenever I can…I look at PCC as my North Star.”
Hajjali, who is producing the music videos for Sony of Taiwanese and international music artist Joanna Wang, spoke more on the ongoing project.
“Ana Maria is D.P. [Director of Photography] and she gets to choose her own crew,” said Hajjali. “Sony gave us a budget to work with, and [Wang] has full creative control over these videos. It is about two to three shooting days each and we are editing them. We work really well together as a team. We all got on it because of Ana Maria. She trusts us.”
The videos are being shot at On The Mark and on location with a vintage 1980s television camera and cell phones to create a unique look. Manso is both Director and D.P. on Lost Angelas, a feature film Hajjali is producing.
After working on several short films, including his work on Lost Angelas, Hajjali spoke fondly on working with Navarro.
“He knows what he wants and he knows how to communicate that to his crew,” she said. “He knows how to create something beautiful. He’s easy to work with…and he likes to help out. And he’s very calm.”
Dunn, who works as a gaffer at On The Mark on the videos, and is a teacher’s assistant in the PCC Film and Television Department in the Center for the Arts, shared his experience in working with Navarro as his D.P. in several projects.
“We have similar tastes as to what we like in film and our artistic vision as well,” Dunn said. “He has the ability to know what he wants and able to relay that to the people that are helping him.”
He also offered some advice for film students.
“If someone comes to ask you for help, just say ‘yes,’” he said. “You never know who you might meet with that.”
As a member of Manzo’s B-Flat family, Agent 22 is quick on the draw in appreciation for the team’s individual gifts and their support and encouragement at every turn.
“It’s one thing to have creative talent in filmmaking, but I think that is only half the battle,” said Navarro. “The other half is creating that network of support for yourself and your friends. I could not have made the films that I have made without [them].”