After many years of hard work, CSUN student Omar Ramirez, senior film major, will finally get his 10 minutes of fame.
Ramirez, who wrote a movie script for a senior film project, was chosen out of many candidates to produce his 10-minute film and present it, along with other student films, at the annual student film showcase held in the Alan and Elaine Armer Theater on campus.
“Only four or five (films) are chosen, and mine was one of them,” Ramirez said. “It is very competitive, because not all make it, but there is a sense of camaraderie, because I know other filmmakers.”
The title of the film, “Delegation of the Acute Placebo,” might sound a little strange, but Ramirez said he believes the title is easy to understand because it leads the audience to wonder about their repressed emotions and desires.
Ramirez explained the movie by breaking down the title word-for-word. He said a delegation is a group of people who come together for a common purpose. The couple in this film becomes the delegation. Acute means a strongly perceived or felt emotion, and a placebo is a sugar or water pill that has no physical effect on the person who takes it. The person taking the placebo believes it has an effect, but it is only mental. This is a phenomenon Ramirez calls “mind over matter.”
According to Ramirez, the title of his film cleverly examines the concept of love. The film has two characters, John and Jane Doe, who happen to meet each other while in a comatose state. As the film progresses, they fall in love with each other and John realizes he was missing the love of Jane his whole life. This is when he realizes he had been afraid to confront these feelings while awake.
In this film, the placebo represents love, and the couple comes together to discover whether love is real or just a state of mind.
“By the end of the film, that’s the question that remains,” Ramirez said. “Is love a placebo or is it real? Have we found the essence of love or an aspect of love by the time we die?”
According to Ramirez, John comes to the realization that he has repressed feelings and desires through two phenomena: astral projection and surrealism.
“Astral projection is an out of body experience,” Ramirez said. “Basically, people travel outside of their bodies. It is a very interesting phenomenon.”
Surrealism is the expression of the imagination revealed in dreams that is free of conscious control of reason and free of convention, Ramirez said.
“Surrealism is an artistic form of expression that became popular with artists like Salvador Dali and filmmaker Luis Bunuel,” Ramirez said.
What is special about this college filmmaker is that his ideas for the film were acquired through inspiration from various filmmakers, as well as his own dreams.
“Luis Bunuel and David Lynch are my biggest influences,” Ramirez said. “I found my ideas in dreams. I’ve had some very unusual dreams, and I find ways to put them in my stories.”
Ramirez said it took him only four days to come up with a movie proposal.
“At the end of last semester, people started talking about senior film proposals,” Ramirez said. “I wasn’t thinking of submitting a proposal, but in a matter of four days, everything came together and I put my proposal in.”
The senior film projects must only be 10 minutes in length. This was one of the challenges Ramirez faced as an amateur filmmaker.
“The questions of love, life, and death and how to condense this in 10 minutes is a challenge,” Ramirez said. “It is a challenge to tell a story within this constricted amount of time.”
Despite this challenge, Ramirez said he has found support from his diverse crew members and cast. Obsidian Films is the name of his crew, nine of whose members are of Chicano/a background.
“We also have Japanese students working with us,” Ramirez said. “We work well together. We have found out who we feel compatible with and what works best. I am very comfortable with the crew that I have.”
According to Ramirez, the film is going to cost about $7,000, which he hopes to raise through fundraisers, dance events, and local car washes. Ramirez has also found support in donations from Kodak.
“We received a Panavision camera package,” Ramirez said. “Kodak has also given us free film. We are getting help.”
As far as his cast is concerned, Ramirez had to post ads to get actors to audition for the film.
“I had to put up ads to get auditions started,” Ramirez said. “I am also very pleased with my cast.”
Ramirez does not devote his time exclusively to film. He is also involved with the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan at CSUN. He said he believes it is important for youth to know their roots so that they can be successful.
“It’s important to help your community,” Ramirez said. “I think it is also important to get to know yourself and know your heritage and culture so you can develop a strong identity.”
Ramirez fell in love with art when he realized an artist can create a piece of art with one idea in mind, but others observing the art are able to come up with their own conclusions about its meaning.
“Film is like a puzzle,” Ramirez said. “There are pieces missing and you put the pieces together. That’s the beauty of film, that you can come up with your own conclusions.”