The red carpet was rolled out Oscar-style in the Wi-Fi room on Thursday as the 72 Hour Film Festival Scholarship and Lancer Film Club participants filed in for their post-screening and awards reception.
Student filmmakers were given specific parameters requiring that their 5-minute movie be written, cast, filmed, and edited within a 72-hour time period.
For the 72 Hour Film Festival Scholarship participants, their journey began at midnight on April 25th. Thereafter, they had three days to complete and submit their films in order to earn any of the three top scholarships – $1,000, $750 and $500 awards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Best Actor and Best Actress were each awarded $250.
David Zepeda, English major, Associated Students V.P. of Campus Activities and the event organizer, outlined the specific criteria given to the participants, and the inspiration behind one of the requirements, as part of the guidelines to ensure that the films had been produced over three days.
“They needed a shot of the [PCC] clock tower for at least 15 seconds, with dialogue in the background,” said Zepeda. “And they had to have at least one of these two lines: ‘You must shed light where there is ignorance’ and ‘Speak truth to fear.’ If that sounds a bit familiar, it’s from Dustin Lance Black’s letter to PCC students.”
The quotes are from the open letter to the PCC students from Black after he had been invited to speak at the 2014 commencement and then dis-invited by the Board of Trustees. Last week, Black was invited by the board once again, were it was confirmed on Saturday that he would indeed be coming to give the commencement address.
Student Trustee Simon Fraser, one of the judges, said the idea to incorporate parts of Dustin Lance Black letter all came from Zepeda.
“It was his idea and I think it was a fantastic one–it was very fresh.” Fraser said. “Black’s a filmmaker himself. I couldn’t think of a better way to show students respect and value for him and what he said in that letter to us.”
Neville Kiser, writer’s assistant to Dustin Lance Black and an MFA in screenwriting from UCLA, was asked to be a judge in the competition. Both writers were asked if they’d participate remotely and were each provided the films, the judging rubric, and overall guidelines. Being that Black was on London time and sleeping, he could not participate. However, Kiser was able to provide time as judge and offered words of encouragement for the students and in what he feels is essential to successfully telling a story in a five minute time frame.
“In my experience, the stories that ring most true come from writers, directors and producers who are connected to the story personally in some way,” he said in an email. “I think what these scholarship winners did with their shorts (and did brilliantly) was be very simple and clear with regards to what the focus of the story was.”
The scholarship winners creatively used the criteria given, and produced character-rich stories within the constraints that they welcomed with open arms.
Filmmakers Moses Navarro, a cinema major transferring to UCLA, and Alexander Dunn, cinema major and cinematographer, collaborated to make their first place scholarship winner “Time,” along with producer and editor, Laila Hajjali. Their lead actor, Ryan Romero, won the Best Actor scholarship.
Their film used the clock tower for the film’s theme, utilizing fast motion to signify time passage in a relationship to an abrupt and moving end. Using three different cameras, Navarro said it was fairly easy working within the five minute time constraint in film length.
“We collaborated on a story and came up with a recollection of memories,” said Navarro. “People’s time together, just relationships between each other.”
Newman participated last year as well. For this year’s entry, he incorporated the clock tower in a photograph used in a mystery horror film that gives brief homage to Henry Fuseli’s “The Nightmare.”
“I think it fit fairly well with our film,” he said. “We just used the one, ‘You must speak truth to fear’, and it was very mysterious and it didn’t necessarily tell the story, but I think it added to it.”
“I’m an editor at heart so I have no problem with squeezing things in last minute, because in the end I know I can fix it, “ he said. “I hope we made it real to people, because that was what I wanted to come out of this.
Inspired by film’s like Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” and Spike Jonze’s “Her,” Peñafiel focused on themes of the city as a character, filming mostly in downtown L.A.’s Chinatown.
Fraser expressed his desire that the 72 Hour Film Festival Scholarships “becomes an annual fixture for the Associated Students moving forward.”
“They did a great job, given that were able to provide them with some equipment, they made some fantastic films with that equipment,” Fraser said. “And I enjoyed the creativity that came out of it.”