After nearly winning the competition last year, the Long Beach State Department of Film and Electronic Arts has had plenty of spots on the 2019 California State University Media Arts Festival finalist list.
In 2018, the university won six of the eight “Best Of” awards presented. Since 2016, the department has won a total of 78 awards.
“[Film] a very powerful discipline ”, declared Anne Justine D’Zmura, director of the cinema and electronic arts department. “It is important to tell the stories of our students. “
Since 1991, the Media Arts Festival has offered CSU cinema students, broadcasting, video, scriptwriting and new media the chance to have their talents criticized. CSULB students have proven to be strong candidates every year, having been more successful in the competition than any other CSU school.
CSULB students received several awards this year, including first places for documentary and narrative (“Justice Delayed” by Janine Anne Uyanga and Michael Hans Banares. Students at the College of the Arts have been recognized for their animation work, and Trilina Mai, Max Phan and Khanh Bui won an audience award for “Push”.
“It’s an incredibly diverse department,” said Assistant Professor Adam Moore. “We encourage stories to be written from the experiences of students. “
Responsible for the FEA screenwriting stream, Moore encourages his students to share their most personal stories through their work, an approach that he says sets film students at CSULB apart.
“The DNA of every storyline written in the department is character-driven thematic storytelling,” he said. “It’s at the heart of every story we write… I think that’s why you see our students, from a story point of view, really succeeding. “
Sarrah Wolfe, a recent FEA graduate, followed the same method when she made “I Love You No Less”, a documentary in which she confronts the issues within her family surrounding the death of her mother in the after-effects of breast cancer. Right after filming, she stepped away from the documentary’s finishing processes when the memories raised sensitive questions.
Wolfe eventually got involved again to narrate the feature film. When her film was selected as a finalist, she was thrilled.
“It’s actually pretty exciting to see that I was a finalist,” said Wolfe. “I wanted to open the door for other people with similar experiences to talk about their own experiences and not feel so alone.”
“I Don’t Love You Any Less” ended up taking first place for the documentary track at the festival which took place on November 13th.
“I wanted it to be a competitive movie,” Wolfe said. “It’s my story and I wanted to make the most of it.”
Although she considers the creative non-fiction track to be a difficult area, Wolfe credits Helen Hood Scheer’s dedication in the classroom to much of the student achievement.
“Our students have interesting and important stories to tell, and they tell them well,” said Scheer, FEA faculty member. “My classes are rigorous, but also fun. I treat my students like competent filmmakers who can do a great job. I have high standards for them.
The professor teaches all aspects of creative non-fiction production, training his students through three production courses: Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced.
“Students learn to wear all hats: directing, production, cinematography, sound recording, editing, harsh criticism,” Scheer said. “I think it is great for students to gain experience in several fields of history and crafts, as this is often what is required in the world of professional documentary to foster privacy and due to smaller budgets. “
D’Zmura also mentioned Hood Scheer’s success in contributing to the academic well-being of his students.
“Scheer continually finds and facilitates highly successful internships for students who often end up becoming permanent jobs,” D’Zmura said.
According to D’Zmura, student journeys to the CSU Media Festival begin with a panel of faculty and professionals who then determine which projects proposed by students are funded. The chosen students end up creating collaborative teams and determining a budget.
The department is now in its 15e year of receiving funds from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which provides a total of $ 60,000 to students for their film projects. All the films chosen for the festival that came directly from the FEA department were films funded by the HFPA.
For D’Zmura, the CSULB being located near Hollywood could be one of the reasons the school’s film department is able to thrive steadily.
“Our proximity to LA and its surroundings is essential,” she said. “We are able to bring all kinds of leading guest artists to give talks, demonstrations and screenings of award-winning works.”
In addition to the program, the film clubs on campus also allow students to develop their creativity. The Women in Film programs of the FEA department and 22 West Media of ASI are among the programs offered. The latter won a prize in this year’s competition.
“I feel like our film department is very close in a lot of ways, and there are a lot of people out there who are willing to work not only on their own stories but also on those of others,” said the recent film graduate. Aspen Ramsdell.
Ramsdell’s film “Mood” took 4th place in storytelling at this year’s festival. The plot of her project, which she wrote and directed, centers on a group of teenagers searching for the truth behind a new device capable of detecting their real feelings. The message of the film: the harmful effects of social networks on human interaction.
“It’s a truth in all of us,” Ramsdell said. “I think it’s really important not to be affected by thinking that everyone is perfect and instead [of] loving people even for their mistakes and faults.
Like Wolfe, Ramsdell has never submitted a work to the festival in previous years. She was surprised when she learned that “Mood” was recognized.
“It’s exciting to know that someone has been inspired by your work,” she said. “I do these things because it feels good to know that.”