CSUN students get a taste of success at Paramount Studios, win awards for short films

CSUN student, Daniel Lee, awaits the start of the awards ceremony at Paramount Studios. Photo by Bianca Gallegos
CSUN student, Daniel Lee, awaits the start of the awards ceremony at Paramount Studios. Photo by Bianca Gallegos
From left to right, CSUN students Daniel Lee, Tyler Phillips and Ross Sauriol at the pre-show reception in Paramount Studios. Photo by Bianca Gallegos
From left to right, CSUN students Daniel Lee, Tyler Phillips and Ross Sauriol at the pre-show reception in Paramount Studios. Photo by Bianca Gallegos

Cal State Northridge students got to rub elbows with other college student filmmakers at the International Grand Finale for the Campus Movie Fest screening and awards ceremony that took place at Paramount Studios.

The world’s largest student film festival took place last Friday to celebrate the best of student made movie competition.

Last year, CMF lent participating students a laptop and video camera to produce a five-minute short film with the time limit of a week to complete.

Two teams from CSUN took on the challenge and both made it to the finale.

Friday morning student filmmakers and their guests were invited to a special keynote session with director, Catherine Hardwicke of “Twilight.”

Later, the short films were screened, followed by a question and answer session with producers and actors.

“Retro Boy” producer Daniel Lee, a 19-year-old CTVA major, said it was most likely the uniqueness of the story and comical component that set his film apart from the rest.

“I’ve been told many times that my acting was really funny,” he said. “I try to make my stories a little different from other stories.”

The plot of “Retro Boy” is about a guy who is stuck in the 80’s and going to college for the first time. His eccentric style of clothes and taste for music make it tough for him to fit in.

Lee came up with the idea from personal experience.

“It’s basically an exaggeration of how me and my best friend met,” said Lee who has lived in the US for three years.

“We both like older music and dress differently from that of the mainstream,” he added.

In the evening at Paramount Studios, members of the two CSUN teams took part in the red carpet event where the top 16 movies from the 2008-2009 CMF World tour were showcased.

At the pre-show reception with a cash bar, CSUN students expressed their excitement.

Lee, said he was excited to be there.

“I never expected to have made it this far, so all of this has been super exciting.”

“I think the fact that Campus Movie Fest allows young students like us make short films and provide this atmosphere is unbelievable,” Tyler Phillips, from the “Retro Boy” team, said. “I’m just so happy to be part of it.”

During the interview, Ross Sauriol, a 23-year-old CTVA major, with a beer at hand and arm wrapped around his fiancé, excused himself for being distracted.

“It’s just that Chris Slater is standing,” about 10 feet away, surrounded by a crowd of student onlookers taking snapshots of him as he strolled by the red carpet into the Paramount lobby.

Sauriol, who too part in the production of “Make Like a Tree,” said, “there aren’t that many avenues where one can watch, like a thousand short films and get to interact with all these people interested in film. It’s really fun. I’m blown away to have made it this far because we literally only spent two days making the film and now we are here at Paramount Studios. It’s pretty cool. I can’t wait for next year.”

Minutes prior to the awards ceremony, Sauriol, said he was not expecting to win an award.

“Just by seeing the caliber of the award winning movies made in the past years, and the ton of great movies I just saw today, I know we are not going to win anything,” Sauriol said.

Winners for best drama, best comedy, best picture and for the Poo Industries Lifetime Achievement Award were announced for the Golden Tripod Award.     Awards were presented by movie industry guests such as Christian Slater, who stared in “My Own Worst Enemy,” Patton Oswalt from “Rattatouliet,” John Cho from “Star Trek,“ and James Cromwell from “LA Confidential.”

Having made it this far into the competition has further fueled CSUN students’ desire to continue producing movies to submit for future competitions.

Throughout the award presentation, Sauriol kept whispering future movie ideas to his fiance, Robin Jones. And out of excitement he cheered loudly as every industry guest that was introduced throughout the show.

Lee, became inspired to apply for a job with CMF. He will be CMF campus ambassador next year. Having made it to the finals made Lee realize his dream is not too far from accomplishing.

“My dreams have become more tangible,” he said. “I feel I’m closer. It’s just a matter of taking baby steps in making my way through the door.”