After winning the Special Jury Mention Award at the Pan African Film Festival this past February for the film “Happysad” CSUN professors Dianah Wynter and Michael Hoggan discussed working on the film and what they are working on next.
Professor Wynter is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and the AFI Directing Programs. She began her career in television working on shows such as, Moesha and the Parkers for the UPN network and Showtime’s Soul Food. She also directed Daddy’s Girl in 1996, an ABC after school special. She received a Daytime Emmy Nomination for outstanding directing in a children’s special.
Her passion for teaching developed later in life. A friend of Wynter’s was happy with a successful career in teaching and playwriting and convinced her that she could write, teach, and be happy at the same time.
She looked into a couple of colleges such as University of California, Santa Barbara but the location wasn’t right. She came to CSUN and met with the faculty.
I was really impressed with who was here and the facility was beautiful,” said Wynter. “It was close and I did not have to stop being who I was and that was the main thing. I didn’t have to stop working.”
Professor Michael Hoggan completed his bachelor’s and master’s at San Diego State University. When working on his degrees he received his teaching credentials in elementary, secondary, and jr. college.
In 1994, he began teaching editing and filmmaking courses part time at USC. He started teaching full time at CSUN in 2003 teaching editing and filmmaking.
Hoggan got his start in Hollywood. He has over 29 years experience in motion picture entertainment.
He has worked on television shows not only writing, but also directing and editing. He has worked on shows such as “Miami Vice” and “Fantasy Island.”
After working in Hollywood for so long, Hoggan decided it was time for him to retire. He didn’t have any passion for teaching until he retired from the motion picture industry.
“I would have stayed, but it was very difficult. There are ceilings in Hollywood, glass ceilings in some cases, but there is a definitely gray ceiling in Hollywood,” said Hoggan. “I started interviewing for jobs where the producer was 25 to 30 years younger than me and I could see that they were not comfortable. Just in the interview I could just tell they looked at my resume and compared it to their resume. I think they did not want that much of an expert. And I just knew I needed to retire.”
Hoggan couldn’t imagine retiring with all the knowledge he had about filmmaking. It made sense for him to go into teaching so that he could pass his knowledge on to the younger generation.
“Coming back to teach gets me involved with young people full of optimism and hope in wanting to do something. It is very positive to be around,” said Prof. Hoggan. “It is very hard to know how old I am until I look in the mirror.”
Hoggan was hired on as 10-year track along with Wynter. In order to complete a 10-year there are certain requirements. One of the requirements is publication.
So when Wynter asked if he wanted to edit the independent film “Happysad” that she signed on to direct, he said “Absolutely.” That met the publication requirements for both Hoggan and Wynter.
“Working with Dianah was a delight. She is just a really nice person, she is talented and a real professional. It was good to work with her,” Hoggan said.
The film “Happysad” is a heart-felt story about a 17-year-old girl in high school who wants to make something of herself by getting a scholarship to play soccer at college. But her plan shifts when her mother goes to prison for murder. She is sent to live with her estranged father. She now has overcome her issues with her father and mother, while she still wants to make something of herself.
The film “Happysad” came about when Wynter was approached by writer Horace Wilson. Wilson had written a script that he was going to produce and shoot in Trinidad, Tobago.
“He wanted a director who was from the Caribbean or who hailed from there,” said Wynter. “He went on to IMDB and started to look up directors. One out of the blue he just called me.”
Recently this past summer Wynter directed and edited a bunch of webisodes for Mary Wilson’s new album. She is now working on a new screenplay which is an adaptation. It has been challenging for her to write because of the amount of faculty that has been laid off since the recent budget crisis.
Hoggan is now working on the recent “Vent at the Tent” where the faculty and students voiced their opinion about the recent budget cuts and the furlough days. He is working on doing a documentary of that recent event.
He is also working on another documentary with the American Cinema Editors on capturing the history of Moviolas. He said that films were made in this Moviola environment.
“Most of the people who knew how to do this are all dying off and it’s about 50 or 60 years of history that is just going to be lost,” Hoggan said.
After years of working in the entertainment industry professors Michael Hoggan and Dianah Wynter have found there calling by passing on all their knowledge and talent on to the younger generation.