CSUN students honored with Rosebud awards at CSU Media Arts Festival

Jamie Yukich stands with his first place Rosebud award in the short screenplay category for his film, “Sheeps and Wolves.” Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jim Spalding

Eight CSUN students took home honors at the annual California State University (CSU) Media Arts Festival in early November.

The festival, which took place at CSU Fullerton Nov. 6, recognizes the work of students in media arts programs throughout the CSU system.

Jamie Yukich, a senior film production major, won for his film, “Sheeps and Wolves.”

“The short idea is that two friends decide to go rob an ex-classmate’s home during his funeral,” he said of the dark comedy, which he wrote and directed.

Yukich said he wanted to play on the old adage of a wolf in sheep’s clothing and the two main characters essentially find themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The film was part of his senior thesis project which he wrote the script for in December 2008.

“I enjoy trying to take darker material and make it slightly humorous,” he said.

Yukich said he is currently submitting the film to other festivals and that it was nice to be rewarded because he put a lot of work into the film.

“It was cool seeing the stuff from other Cal States,” he said.

Gina Ruoti, a graduate student in the screenwriting program, was awarded for her script, “Tree of Knowledge.”

She said she has attended several festivals before, but being nominated was an entirely different experience.

“It’s about a troubled young woman who bites the fruit of this special tree and has an out-of-body experience where she fights her own inner demons,” she said.

The part of the film where she fights her demons is animated, Ruoti said, and the parts before and after are live action.

Ruoti said the film is currently in post-production to add the animated sequences.

She was inspired to write the script after she saw a fig tree in Pasadena, she said.

“It had a majestic quality to it and (I) felt inspired as soon as I stood underneath it,” she said.

She added that the tree was later used in the film.

Her film is about self-acceptance, she said, and the demons represent the main character’s insecurities.

“I really enjoy the art of storytelling, I always have,” Ruoti said. “I love being able to explore humanity with storytelling and write about the things that are important to me.”

Sola Shin, who graduated in May 2010 from the CTVA TV production program, received an award for her documentary about her grandfather.

“Harabeoji (Grandpa)” is her grandfather’s story of escaping from North Korea to South Korea.

Originally, the film was only supposed to be about her grandfather’s escape from North Korea, but it ended up being about Shin’s reconnection with her family roots, she said.

“I knew my grandparents were from North Korea but I didn’t know anything about it in detail,” she said.

Shin said the documentary was her first project and she was excited to win an award.

Doron Kipper, a May 2010 graduate of the CTVA film production program with an option in cinematography, won for his short film, “Misdirection.”

“It’s (about) secret societies of battling magicians who use the profession of magicians to hide the fact that they can perform real magic,” he said of the film, which he wrote and directed.

He was also one of four producers involved with the project.

Kipper said he was inspired to make the film because he has been passionate about magic since he was a child.

“I’ve been a magician since I was  five years old and when I became a filmmaker I fell out of magic a little bit,” Kipper said.

He added he wanted to blend magic and film.

The film is about Peter, the grandson of a famous magician who discovers his grandfather’s greatest secret.

“Misdirection” has won awards at four other festivals. It also won the 2010 Kodak Film School Competition for the U.S. and Canada Region, Kipper said.

“I’m just incredibly proud of what the entire student crew accomplished,” Kipper said.

He added that at one point there was a student and professional crew of more than 200 people involved with the film.

Initially, Kipper said he was not sure how the film would turn out.

He said he has been very surprised at the overall reactions that it has received.

Kipper is currently preparing the DVD for the film, which he hopes to be finished with by Christmas, he said.

Kipper said he wants the audience to have fun at his movie, which he hopes to turn into a feature film someday.

“I hope they can look at the world around them and believe that there might be things that we don’t know about,” and magical elements we don’t yet understand, he said.

Other award winners were Brian Parada and Shaughnessy Dixson, who won a first place Rosebud Award in the narrative category. Diego Zuniga won third place for documentary, and Kathea Mathison won third place for short screenplay.