Reel Exposure

    UCSD Alumnus Jay Drose on location producing “Amusement Park.” Drose’s film “Having Fun With Friends” was featured in the UCSD Up and Coming Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of Jay Drose)

    Perhaps you’ve seen them — they look like conventional UCSD students except for their cargo. Lugging cumbersome PD170 cameras across campus, toting microphones attached to long poles and sun gun lights into classrooms and hauling colossal tripods on and off campus shuttles, UCSD film students have been busy taking advantage of new opportunities beyond the Visual Arts department to flex their filmic muscles and gain exposure.

    While UCSD film students receive their foundational education on the principles of editing, production and technique from the Visual Arts department, most students agree that these courses, while valuable, are purely theoretical. Film students are now looking to extradepartmental programs, festivals and clubs to put such theory into potentially lucrative practice.

    Since being appointed ArtPower! Film Curator in January, Rebecca Webb has made it her goal to introduce such programs to film students while simultaneously increasing the visibility of the Visual Arts department.

    “I want to bring awareness to the film students here because they’re not just involved in the theoretical aspects, they’re also producing films,” Webb said. “Whenever I mention to anyone outside of UCSD, or even in UCSD, that there’s a film program here, people are really surprised. Professors here [in other disciplines] who I talk to have no idea.”

    Using UCSD’s new performance art space as its venue, Webb has organized a series of student film screenings at the Loft as part of a program called Press Rewind ’08. These movies were of the 40 considered for the inaugural UCSD Up & Coming Student Film Fest also initiated by Webb earlier this year. Each Sunday in October, 10 movies from 10 to 15 minutes in length are screened before an audience of students and film buffs.

    UCSD Up & Coming will precede the Press Rewind event every year and according to Webb, will “recognize excellence” in student film in a more formal setting. For the inaugural festival, Webb assembled a panel of film critics, filmmakers and film professors to judge the 40 student submissions, ultimately choosing 10 to receive an honorable mention. The panel included KPBS film critic Beth Accomando and Academy Award winning filmmaker Ham Tran. Of the 10 selected, Accomando invited the top two films from UCSD students Jessie Pellegrino and Edward Kim to be screened at her own film festival with the possibility of being aired on KPBS in the future.

    “UCSD has an isolated film program, so the festival is good to see your work and not just in the classroom,” said Jay Drose, recent John Muir College alum and creator of one of the top 10 films at UCSD Up & Coming ’08. “Hopefully more film students will feel motivated. Hopefully it inspires people to be more competitive than they are. Class assignments don’t usually go anywhere, and [students] need more incentive to get better and to experiment.”

    According to Webb, this year’s submissions to the UCSD Up & Coming Film Fest varied in style but were connected thematically in their “introspective” and “personal” nature. Edward Kim’s film “Untitled” explores how a filmmaker searches for an original film idea. Daniel Kim, Sixth College senior and Press Rewind ’08 participant, created a film called “Dan in a Tube” that follows the main character Dan as he battles with a copy of himself stuck in a TV. Drose’s film “Having Fun with Friends,” chronicles how an amorous encounter affects the lives of two characters.

    Most of the films submitted achieved production through modest means, using rented equipment from the Visual Arts Department, shooting in free public spaces and utilizing friends as actors.

    “The theme of the Up & Coming was along the lines of ‘Do it yourself,’ and that made me smirk because about three quarters of the time I was completely alone,” Daniel Kim said of his filming process in an e-mail.

    For film students looking for a more interactive experience or simply a chance to create a longer piece, Muir Movie provides a unique opportunity. A student organization created six years ago, Muir Movie gives all students with an interest in film the space to write, produce and act in their own feature-length film throughout the course of an entire school year. With a budget of about $5000, mostly funded by Muir College, students advance production from quarter to quarter and show their final product in the spring.

    While students from all colleges and disciplines are welcome, film students from the Visual Arts department find this program particularly advantageous because they are able to work without the constraints and limitations posed by classroom projects.

    “[This is] an unprecedented opportunity which creates what I believe to be the best hands-on filmmaking experience you can get at UCSD,” said Graham Lee, Sixth College alum and last year’s Muir Movie chair, in an e-mail.

    According to Webb, these new and existing festivals and programs allow film students to use their theoretical educations to start creating films while also making “connections” that will benefit their eventual careers.

    “Some of the best advice for filmmakers is to just make stuff,” Daniel Kim said. “Class projects are a nice way to force yourself to finish something, but making things that you want to make yourself is dang important.”

    Drose added that the breadth of a film student’s education at UCSD is within his or her own hands.

    “There are no track options [writing, producing, and other foci] and it’s really like treading in uncharted waters,” Drose said. “You really have to go out there and talk to people and have that L.A. mindset of networking. UCSD’s film program is really apathetic, but people use that as a crutch. It’s really, in the end, what you make of it."

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