Students make directorial debut

Alexander Viray

Student filmmakers from Cal State Northridge will displayed years of hard work at the 19th annual Senior Film Showcase yesterday at the Academy of Television Arts Sciences.

The Showcase will premiere the top five student films out of 20 as selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press.

One of the films, titled ‘Family Pieces,’ was directed by Ryan Close and is set in the 1930s. His movie is about a young boy in Montana who is orphaned by his mother. The boy goes from one family to another in search of finding acceptance.

Close said it took about a year and a half to make his 19 minute film, and the movie was actually filmed on location in Bozeman, Montana. The story is more fact than fiction as it is based off of two people in Close’s life who were once orphans.

When Close was 9-years-old his interest in filmmaking was ignited when he watched ‘Forrest Gump’ and ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’

‘I decided then that I wanted to do something with movies,’ said Close.

Since then directors such as David Fincher, who directed ‘Benjamin Button,’ and Fran’ccedil;ois Truffaut, who directed ‘The 400 Blows,’ have been some of the biggest inspirations in his directing and filmmaking.

‘Just being able to have a good story and hopefully entertain. That’s the part I love about filmmaking, the storytelling,’ said Close.

A more imaginative piece comes from Joey Umana who directed ‘The Sounds of Silence.’ His film is about a young boy who suffers from disabilities and whose only way to express himself is through pantomimes.

‘I basically wanted to make a conventional film but an art piece at the same time,’ said Umana.

Umana is the first openly gay student to direct a senior project and to have their film chosen to be in the Senior Film Showcase.

It took 14 months to produce the film, though shooting encompassed only ten days all over Los Angeles County.

Umana first got into film at the ripe young age of ninr as well during the first time he saw ‘Gone with the Wind.’ The story of a different world, different place and different time had a huge impact on him.

‘It was a defining moment in my life,’ said Umana.

Other movies that have influenced his filmmaking include ‘La Strada’ and ‘Children of Paradise.’

Umana said ‘The Sounds of Silence’ is riddled with messages and the two main characters are actually facets of him.

‘Do what you want in life despite the hardships and disabilities. But it’s okay to still have an ego,’ he said.

A more comedic film comes from Terri Ann Driggs who directed the film ‘I Do and I Don’t,’ about a wedding day gone completely wrong. Her original idea was to make a film about a honeymoon gone awry, but due to logistics it became easier to create a wedding film.

Driggs’ film took a semester to write, included a semester of pre-production and a semester of post-production. Through all this only five days were comprised of filming.

Driggs didn’t start creating movie projects until she reached junior college at College of the Canyons. The famous ’80’s film director John Hughes, who directed ‘The Breakfast Club,’ is one of Driggs’ heaviest influences.

‘I’m fairly new to the game,’ she said.

Working on ‘I Do and I Don’t’ was a genuinely artistic and emotional experience Driggs said. Her gift and passion for directing is her calling. With her film she intended to make an affable comedy suitable for people of all backgrounds.

‘It’s entertaining and refreshing, there’s a trend in a lot of comedy films that are crude,’ said Driggs. ‘I’m hoping to make a career out of clean humor instead of crude.’

Jumping from comedy to musical, ‘Moulin Rouge’ mixed with ‘A Nightmare before Christmas’ was the basis for Brian Halopoff’s feature film. Aptly titled ‘Undying Love,’ it is best described as a zombie musical love story. If it sounds a bit unusual at first, good, that was the intention of Holopoff.

‘I just wanted to do something different,’ he said.

On his experience making this film Halopoff said working on set was the best and worst part of making ‘Undying Love.’

For the audience he hopes they will, ‘be entertained by a fun story that doesn’t need a message, that just wants to be fun,’ Halopoff said.’ ‘

‘Tag,’ directed by Henry Fernandez, is the story of a retired Vietnam veteran from East Los Angeles who confronts a group of local taggers.

A retired Vietnam veteran from East Los Angeles deals with the issue of tagging in the film ‘Tag.’ In Henry Fernandez’s film the veteran tackles the group of local taggers.