Posts Tagged ‘student films’

Student Films Target All Kinds of Love

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Idyllwild Arts alum, Gabe Harshman, acted in "Love Without End"

By Marcia E. Gawecki

All five shorts shown at the Student Film Screenings on Saturday, May 26, were about love.

They involved different themes, including a zombie apocalypse, teen angst, separation and death, gay marriage and restoring eyesight to Ethiopians. But the overall premise was about love — of self, your siblings, your parents, your friends, your spouse and your fellow man.

By the packed house (for the second night in a row) and the standing ovation at the end, the audience loved them all. Even a few tears were shed.

“Get ready to cry!” exclaimed Shanna, a visual art student, after intermission. “The next one is really sad.”

She was right. “Love Without End,” written and directed by Rosey, was a story about love and loss. It was produced by Harald, edited by Minori and filmed by Cyrus.

“No matter what kind of love you have, it never ends,” said Rosey, as she stood at the podium introducing her short film. By the dramatic pauses in her brief speech, it appeared that the film could be autobiographical.

"Life After Death" was more than just a zombie apocalypse movie

“Love Without End” featured two strangers sitting on a bus headed for a special stargazing place in the mountains. Richard, played by Gabe Harshman, an Idyllwild Arts theater alum, lost his wife to illness, while Jason, played by Jared Billings (a film teacher), never found his sister after his parents died and different families adopted them.

The two standouts in the movie were local youngsters, Brighton Dahleen, who played Jason at age 8, and Jennie, played by Elsie Fisher, from the Universal Studios computer animated film, “Despicable Me.”

“It just tore my heart out to see them separated,” Shanna said.

Gabe also got a callout in the thank you credits. He is best known as the louse with the powdered wig in “Learned Ladies.” While at Idyllwild Arts, Gabe also played in the “Laramie Project” and the “Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Now, after two years at Roosevelt in Chicago, he’s living in Los Angeles and taking improv classes with Gary Austin, founder of “The Groundlings.”

He’s also friends with Idyllwild Arts film alumni, Nick Caine and Sean Stromsoe, who helped edit the films.

“Gabe was great to work with,” exclaimed Lujie one of the crew. “He worked with us until midnight and never complained.”

If you look closely at the way that “Love Never Ends” was shot, the two men who play the leads were never face-to-face, but side-by-side (on the bus, on the rock). That’s because Gabe’s part was shot first, weeks before Jared’s part, that was added later.

“I take pride in taking direction,” Gabe said earlier. “I’m an actor, not a director or producer, whose job is to look at the big picture.”

He said it was great coming back to the natural surroundings of Idyllwild after living in LA.

“It was really peaceful looking up at the stars,” Gabe said. “I miss that.”

Film crew unloads on location in Idyllwild

For the first film shown Saturday night, “Life After Death,” was more about the love between a sister and brother, than a zombie apocalypse. It was written and directed by Armani, a sophomore film major. In his introduction, he keenly noted that not many sophomores got their films “green lit.” He thanked his leading actor, Quincy, for making the most of her big sister role. Armani also thanked his real-life sister for her inspiration and his mother for her loyalty.

“This film is dedicated to my mother,” Armani said. “For believing in me, even when I turned into a zombie.”

He also said that he was inspired by a book that featured zombies that were not just cold-blooded killers, but still showed signs of humanity.

The action-packed zombie short, featured realistic makeup on the battle beleagured Quincy and her boyfriend, Eric. In an instant, she left  her 5-year-old brother alone to go out with Eric. (In hindsight, it may not have made a big difference if she was home because the zombies were taking over the world).

The movie makes good use of TV news announcements and voice mail messages to convey the seriousness of the zombie apocalypse. In most of the scenes, Eric wielded a semi-automatic rifle, to fend off zombies, coming close to getting bit once.

When he shot one zombie in an abandoned home, the bloodstain left on the wall was digitally enhanced.

(from L) Juwan sings to Jared, as Caleb plays at the 2011 screenings. This year, Jared acted in "Love Without End."

In his opening remarks to “Life After Death,” Jared said that the special effects company has agreed to work with Idyllwild Arts students again next year.

“That says a lot about the professionalism of our film students,” Jared said.

“The Wingman,” a coming-of-age comedy, features two Idyllwild Arts alumni in the leading roles, Connor Farwell and Russell Bomgardner. It was written and co-directed by Gabby and her brother, Angelo.

“As a former theater major, I thought I’d escape acting,” confessed Gabby, in her opening remarks. “But then, I’m in the film, so Angelo directed me.”

“Wingman” was produced by Alyssa, edited by Paris, Alex and Gabby. It’s about Jace, played by Russell (Shortcomings) who is bullied by the overbearing Payton, until a tragedy happend. Connor is still self-absorbed, but Russell has changed. Gabby, as the angel that only Russell can see, helps him find his backbone and realize his true merits.

“We think Angelo is awesome,” exclaimed Ira Abrams, in his opening remarks.

As cinematographer, Angelo captured Idyllwild’s natural beauty, including scenes from Lake Fulmor, and meadows near the state park.

(from L) Idyllwild Arts alum, Russell Bombgardner (shown with Kathryn) plays the sidekick in "Wingman"

The “Assosa Eye Clinic” documentary, also showcased the talents of Idyllwild Arts alumni, Sean Stromsoe (film) and Charles Haysbert (theater). It showed the efforts of Dr. Samuel, the only physician for 200,000 people, and the Tropical Health Alliance, to help restore eyesight to cataract patients in Ethiopia.

Though mostly visuals and little dialogue, Sean and Charles tell a heart-warming tale about a father and son. Through cataract surgery, sight in one of the father’s eyes is restored.

“I can see you!” the father exclaimed as his bandages were removed. “This is my joy to see my son again. Thank God.”

“Perfect,” a 3-minute short-short, was written and produced by Anna, just days before the weekend film screenings. It featured a love-struck girl musing about her prom date. Then reality strikes when his mom drives them to the dance.

The final film of the evening took on a political tone. “A Family Like Mine,” is a documentary about children growing up with same-sex parents. It was written by Katherine, or Tia, whose single dad is gay. It was produced by Tirzah, filmed by Alex, and edited by Moira.

President Obama portrait by Marcia E. Gawecki, Idyllwild

Recently, President Obama has supported legislation that allows same sex couples to marry. It is landmark legislation and a big risk for an incumbent president, yet opposed by the religious right.

“When I came to Idyllwild Arts, I was surprised to learn how many people grew up like me,” Tia said.

In her film, several instructors from Idyllwild Arts told their perspective of gay families, including Shambo Carpenter, a philosophy teacher, and Melissa Wilson, an animation teacher. Also, the wife of Daniel Gray, who was pregnant at the time.

They spoke of confusion, pain and isolation growing up as children of gay couples.

“My brother and I decided once that we weren’t going to listen to or associate with people who didn’t understand our family,” said Shambo, who has two mothers.

Tia, whose father is gay, didn’t know the term until she was nine years old when another child told her.

Her father described how his own mother sent him to a psychiatrist when he was young, to see if he was gay.

"Gabe was great to work with," exclaimed Lujie.

“They put me in a room with all kinds of toys. I bypassed all the cowboy guns and went straight for the dolls,” Tia’s father recalled. “When my mother asked the doctor if I was gay, he said, ‘Regardless if he’s gay or not, he’s going to be a father.”

“A Family Like Mine,” showed Tia growing up, riding bikes and drawing with her dad. Tia is African-American, and her father is white.

“People on the street used to ask me where I got this child, and if I took her from someone,” Tia’s dad said. “I used to tell them that I was babysitting for Diana Ross.”

Through a multitude of conversations with gay parents, children of gay parents, priests and news clippings of the opposition, “A Family Like Mine” will help give an insider’s perspective to the same-sex marriage debate.

“People don’t realize that when they are attacking same-sex couples, they are also attacking the children of those families,” Tia said “People like me.”

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Student Film Screenings Tonight & Saturday

Friday, May 25th, 2012

A zombie screams

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Zombies and pilots are among the themes for this year’s Student Film Screenings held tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the IAF Theatre on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The much-anticipated event is free and open to the public.

Part of the zombie movie was shot next door to me in Idyllwild. I volunteered my neighbor’s house because frankly, my kitchen was a mess.

Maurice Mysenburg’s home was perfect because it was unoccupied (he lives in La Habra), it had a small Sherwood Forest in the back yard, and dark wood paneling throughout.

The script called for one actor to shoot a zombie dead against the wood paneling in the bedroom.

“I wonder if the blood will leave a stain?” asked Isaac, head of the Film Department.

Isaac and Gerald decided they needed to match the wood paneling so they could use it as an overlay. (I’m sure my neighbor, Maurice, wouldn’t want to live with zombie blood above his headboard.) As it turned out, however, they created the blood stain in post-production.

The film crew unloads all of the equipment

Outside, the film crew was unloading the lights, camera and equipment. I was just sorry that I wasn’t going to be around to watch them shoot the zombie film, “Life After Death.”

Before I left, one of the students asked to use my garden hose. I imagined that he needed it to fill up a fog machine or something.

As it turns out, he needed to hose down a zombie.

She had platinum blonde hair, and caked blood all over her face. She was a gruesome sight. And she stood there screaming. Why the zombie needed to be wet and miserable was unknown.

A zombie in full makeup

The zombie film was written by Armani, a sophomore film student at Idyllwild Arts, who insists that it’s got a decent storyline.

“It’s about a guy who convinces a girl to leave her 5-year-old brother at home so that she can go out with him,” Armani explained.

(See ‘Zombie Teen Flick” Idyllwild Me post dated April 10).

“‘It’s more about the story between the sister and brother,” Armani said.

Armani said that “Life After Death” is not autobiographical.

“My sisters didn’t leave me home alone until I was 10,” he said.

Most of the other short films, including “Wing Man” were shot in and around Idyllwild. Those who come to the Student Film Screenings tonight and Saturday night will notice many local sites.

Like all Idyllwild Arts events, the event is free and open to the public. But come early to get a good seat. For more information, contact (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Idyllwild Arts Student Lands in Feature Film

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Dylan heads for the Seattle International Film Festival this weekend

By Marcia E. Gawecki

“My theater training at Idyllwild Arts definitely helped me prepare for this role,” said Dylan Arnold, as he headed for the Seattle International Film Festival this weekend to help promote “Fat Kid Rules the World.”

At the South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) earlier this month, the feature film won the “Audience Award,” over  hundreds of other films. The crew is hoping for a good reception at the Seattle Film Festival too.

It took Director Matthew Lillard (Scoobie-Doo, The Descendants) nine years to get the film rights to the book by K.L. Going, “Fat Kid Rules the World.” Matthew was hired to read it for books on tape, and started crying after just a few chapters. He then scrambled to get the movie rights, Dylan said.

It’s about an overweight teenager who tries to jump off a bridge because of his miserable life, but then is saved by a popular kid who asks him to join his punk band.

When Matthew was ready to shoot his independent film in Seattle last summer, he called area agents looking for actors, and Dylan’s was among them.

At Idyllwild Arts, Dylan had acted in several student films, including “On the Bright Side,” “Shortcomings,” “Rockstars: The Pete Weaver Experience,” as well as theater productions, “Eurydice” and “The Shape of Things.” He said a friend of his recommended the Tiffany Talent Agency.

Dylan read lines on camera first, but then was called back for a live audition with the director.

“I didn’t want to get my hopes up,” Dylan said. “But if I didn’t make it, at least I got to meet Shaggy!”

Dylan said the audition went well, and he was asking Matthew if he should leave the script on the chair as he was leaving.

“Then Matthew said, ‘Yes, you’ll be getting a bigger one soon,'” Dylan said.

Dylan’s mother, who is in the business, said it was a good sign. And when Dylan’s agent called about landing the role, she told Dylan that he’d better get a replacement for his summer job.

On set, Dylan said that everyone was professional, but he kept looking around for the teenagers.

“At Idyllwild, I was used to working with a 17-year-old director, cameraman and script writer,” Dylan said. “It was weird working with just adults.”

The Seattle shooting last summer took five weeks, but Dylan’s part only took about two weeks. He played a high school jock who got all of the girls.

“I used to go to public high school before coming to Idyllwild Arts, and I used a couple of guys I knew there as inspiration,” Dylan said.

He said he also read the book, “Fat Kid Rules the World,” to give him a better take on his character.

Dylan has played the lead in student films

And since he didn’t know how to play basketball, Matthew Lillard got him a coach.

“I know how to play now,” Dylan said with a smile.

He said the other three actors in the movie, were great to work with.

“I really fed off of their energy,” Dylan said.

He said that the feature film experience has changed him.

“I now got a taste of what it’s like, and I definitely want to do it again,” Dylan said.

However, he is enrolled in North Carolina School of the Arts, an acting school, in the fall.

“I would never have gotten into that school if it weren’t for my experience at Idyllwild Arts,” Dylan said.

Dylan had come to the school as a summer theater student, and made the most of his two and a half years here.

At the South by Southwest Film Festival, Dylan got to walk down a red carpet, and was interviewed by the local press. He also got to sign his first autograph. It was from an adult.

“That was pretty cool,” Dylan said.

At the Seattle Film Festival this weekend, Dylan will be joined by his family and friends. He had to pay for the plane ticket, but they will pay for everything else at the event, he said.

Since it’s an independent film, Matthew Lillard is hoping to raise $150,000 to help with backing and distribution.

He’s also set up on Kickstarter, which has helped raise money for indy films, music, comics and other creative endeavors.

Look for Dylan in the “Fat Kid Rules the World” trailer on the Hollywood Reporter site, http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/video/fat-kid-rules-world-trailer-298103.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Student Film Screenings Unite, Excite

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

(far R) Scarlett wrote/directed Penelope; Laura wrote/directed/sang Rockstars; Malcom produced Fitz; while Sorrelle (far L) acted in Dead Serious. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

I like coming to opening nights. Everything is always edgy and raw. Bugs need to be worked out, things don’t always go the right way, but there’s an electricity in the air. You were there and You Saw it First.

Friday night was Opening Night of the Film Screenings at Idyllwild Arts. There were four shorts and one super-short, or a 3-2-1. The short films included: “Penelope,” “Fitz,” “Dead Serious” and “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience,” all created by women writer-directors. And the super short was entitled, “Bonding at Breakfast.”

You gotta love the Film Department at Idyllwild Arts. They really “roll out the red carpet” for these films. While people are standing in line, they’re treated to exceptional jazz music from the Jazz Department, stand on a red carpet and buy standard concessions, which includes popcorn, pop and chocolates. Proceeds go to help fund an upcoming film trip to Ethiopia.

If you’re planning on going to Saturday nights’ Film Screening, plan to come 30 minutes early. No kidding, it’s essential to stand in line to get a seat, or you’ll be standing in the back row. As you head down the hallway towards the theater,  try not to pick your nose or say anything embarrassing because “You’re on Candid Camera!”

(from L) Giovanna and many of the other dance students were extras in the films

Things went reasonably well for Opening Night. There was a schedule change. “Penelope” would be the first film, followed by “Fitz.” After intermission, “Dead Serious” would be first, and then Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience.”

Because it was unexpected, “Bonding Over Breakfast,” a short short (or 3-2-1) by Alexa, was delightful. Like getting a free bon-bon. It featured Melanie, a Theater major, as the mother, and a young girl as her daughter. All I can say is that girl was wonderful, bright and wise beyond her years.

Melanie, a theater major, plays a single mom in Alexa's short, "Bonding Over Breakfast"

“Penelope,” written and directed by Scarlett, actually started out as a conversation with her father as they were listening to the song, “Penelope” on the radio.

“This would make a good movie,” both had agreed. Fast forward six months, and Scarlett’s father is gone, but not the dream for the movie. In short, it’s gonna be a tear jerker.

Set in WWII, Penelope, a nightclub singer, meets Elijah, and falls in love. Then Pearl Harbor is attacked, and the U.S. enters the war. Elijah leaves in full uniform, and Penelope’s world crumbles.

All I can say is that 20 minutes of “Penelope” is not long enough. I could have used about 20 minutes more. It was romantic, tragic and beautifully acted and filmed.

(from L) Michel, Peter and Harold all played extras in the films. Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

Scarlett made a good choice in selecting Paley as her lead and Analia Lenchantin,a classical pianist and actor from Argentina who now lives in Idyllwild.

As Penelope, Paley’s voice sounds like it’s whiskey and cigarette tainted. Her face expresses every complicated emotion. However, we wouldn’t expect anything less. Paley’s got good genes. Her mother is a famous comedic actress in Mexico.

If Scarlett decides to expand “Penelope” into a feature film, it has my vote.

A lot of the other students thought “Fitz” was the best film of the night.

“It had everything,” exclaimed Benny, a classical music major. “The story was great, and the lighting and the cinematography were spectacular!”

Benny was seated next to Andrew Leeson, a Creative Writing staff member, who agreed.

“Yep, that’s the one,” Andrew said.

“Fitz,” was written by Brit, produced by Malcom, filmed by Kai and edited by Paris.

In his opening remarks, Malcom gave the audience part of the back story.

(from L) Three for "Fitz," including Malcolm as producer, Kai as cinematographer, Gabby as lead actor. Sorrelle (far R) acted in "Dead Serious" Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts

“Brit brought Kai and I the script, and said that she had written it over the summer and wanted us to take a look,” Malcom said.

They did, and told Ira Abrams about it, who agreed it was a gem.

Fitz, short for Fitzgerald, is a co-ed boarding school, much like Idyllwild Arts. The only exception is the uniforms. “Fitz” centers on one newcomer, (exceptionally portrayed by Michael Minor, a classical bass player).

It’s hard to imagine that Michael Minor was just a bass player, until this movie came along. He had never acted before, and to take the lead was nothing short of astounding. Some people are just natural actors, and Michael is one of them.

(from R) Brooke (shown with actor Joe Spano) plays the lead in Ellen's movie,"Dead Serious." Courtesy photo.

Anyway, the story is about students who overcome an overbearing headmaster and take over the school. The cast of local talent shines, including headmaster.

“Dead Serious,” is a female teen angst film, complete with mean girls and a tragedy.

“It’s a black comedy,” Andrew Leeson explained, as  I complained that the mother was so callous.

Brooke was spectacular as the nice girl who gets bullied. Like Greta Garbo, the camera loves her face.

Madi, a Creative Writing major, was good as the Mean Girl. All of us have been bullied some time in our youth. Hats off to Sorrelle, one of Madi’s friends, who continually “hisses” at Brooke, like a pissed-off cat.

“Rockstars: The Pete Weaver Experience,” the fourth and final show, features a young boy who dreams of becoming a rock star. Hard to imagine the script from this show was originally about a poet who sent off his poems into the universe via helium balloons.

(from L) Melanie and Brit, who wrote and directed "Fitz." Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

In the storyline. a young writer is at odds with his father who owns a Camero body shop. More than anything, he’d rather be writing and playing rock songs. Naturally, his dad wants him to focus on the task at hand.

However, when Pete has a chance to meet one of his rock star idols (played by dance instructor Jonathan Sharp), he takes a risk that changes his outlook.

It should be pointed out that Conor O’Farrell, an accomplished TV, film and screen actor, plays an exceptional grease monkey father. He notes his son’s artistic dreams, and makes a deal that could help him.

Laura wrote and sang songs for her film, "Rockstars: The Pete Weaver Experience." Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

Writer-director Laura, not only plays his onscreen love interest, but also writes and records songs. In essence, “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience” is about her, and other songwriters, trying to make their mark on the world.

In short, the four, shorts shown at the Idyllwild Arts’ “Film Screenings 2011” are outrageous, funny and dramatic. They will make you laugh, cry and left longing for more!

Saturday night’s Student Film Screenings starts at 7:30 p.m. at the IAF Theater on campus. All shows are free and open to the public. Arrive early to get a good seat.

For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Published on: May 28, 2011 @ 8:47

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Weekend Release of Four Student Films

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Laura wrote and directed the film, "Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience" and even wrote two of its songs.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

This weekend will showcase four short films created by the Idyllwild Arts Film Department.

It is a year’s worth of hard work writing, directing, casting, filming, scoring, and editing.

“It’s a running joke on campus that the film students never get to see the light of day,” one film student said.

Yet, it’s also the year in which all four films were written and directed by women. (Although this may be remarkable in Hollywood, in which men tend to dominate, the ratio of women to men on the Idyllwild Arts campus is about four to one.)

The four films featured include: “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience,” written and directed by Laura; “Dead Serious,” written and directed by Ellen; “Penelope,” written and directed by Scarlett, and “Fitz,” written and directed by Brit.

The films, ranging from 15 to 21 minutes each, are as diverse as the students who created them.

“I’m glad that I was first to shoot my film this year,” Laura said of “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience.” “That way, I could take my time to finish and edit it the entire year.”

Laura not only wrote and directed the film about a lovestruck rock star, but also wrote the music score for two of its songs. Last year, she wrote and sang in one film and acted in another. In fact, her 2010 single, “Time Bomb,” is also featured on iTunes.

It’s not unusual for a script to go through many changes over the course of the school year, especially when others get involved and offer their opinions. Originally, “Rock Stars” was written about a guy who wrote poems and sent them sailing into the universe via helium balloons. However, along the way, Laura decided that a quiet boy and balloons wouldn’t make a good movie.

The poet turned into a rock star, featuring one of the school’s ballet instructors.

“Jonathan Sharp is perfect for the role,” Laura said. “He’s good looking and gregarious. He’s the ultimate rock star.”

Luckily, the 30 film students can draw from many talent resources, including student actors, dancers and musicians, who are willing to work for free to be in a movie.

C.D. sported just boxer briefs when trying out for the 'psycho' role for Brit's film, "Fitz"

Although Laura’s film changed a lot over the course of the year, Brit’s film, “Fitz,” did not. It’s about a prep school in which some of the students take over the school. “Fitz” is short for “Fitzgerald,” the name of the school, but the title could be ambiguous on purpose.

C.D., a musical theater major, was eager to try out.

“My role in ‘Fitz’ was to basically play a ‘psycho,'” C.D. said.

To nab the role, C.D. knew that he had to pull out all the stops. He had to make a lasting impression on the casting crew.

“I showed up in my underwear!” he exclaimed.

They were boxer briefs, actually, and C.D. also had on a navy blue preppy blazer and shoes.

“We couldn’t stop laughing,” Kai recalled of C.D.’s audition. “His clothing choice was ingenious, but he won us over by his dialogue.”

Kai, who won acclaim for his lighting of “The Other Side,” a dramatic short film from 2010, was dumbfounded to discover that lighting for dramas and comedies is not the same.

“I was surprised that Brit challenged and changed my lighting choices,” Kai recalled the early days on the set. “But she was right. I had to rethink my style from drama to comedy.”

Film students like Alexa, shown with film wheel, work hard all year long. Alexa worked on a 3-2-1 short.

From casting to filming on location, the film students don’t leave out any details. Case in point: Ellen needed a photo for her poster for “Dead Serious,” so she and her crew went to a cemetary in San Jacinto, near Hemet.

“The story’s about a girl who gets bullied in school,” Ellen said, trying not to give too much away. “But someone ends up dying.”

Ellen, Alyssa and Brooke, a musical theater major who plays the lead in the film, all went to take pictures among tombstones. Even during the day, the location was a bit spooky. During the shoot, Brooke gave a mocking smile.

Could they have grabbed a tombstone from the internet and PhotoShopped it in? Sure, but it wouldn’t have been the same. If you knew these Idyllwild Arts film students, you’d know they never take short cuts. They continue long into the night, if that’s what it takes.

Just this past Sunday, Scarlett was putting the finishing touches on “Penelope,” a romantic period piece set in Mexico. Four jazz music students followed Scarlett to a local recording studio on Sunday evening to record a song. They worked from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., breaking only once for pepperoni pizza.

Anna or “Paley,” a post grad theater major from Mexico, plays the female lead. It was the first film she had starred in, and a welcome project at the end of the year. Acting comes naturally for the 18-year-old whose mother is a famous comedic actor in Mexico.

“She was perfect for the role,” Scarlett said.

It wasn’t easy for Scarlett to watch Paley kissing her boyfriend. But it was all for the movie’s sake. You see, Scarlett’s boyfriend, Austin, plays Paley’s love interest.

“Whenever we’d kiss on the set, I’d look over at Scarlett, and she’d be turning her head,” Paley said jokingly.

“Rock Stars,” “Dead Serious,” “Penelope” and “Fitz” promise an evening’s worth of comedy, passion and intrigue this Memorial Day Weekend. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the IAF Theater (located in the Bowman building). Shows are free and open to the public, but come early to get a good seat.

For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171. Some film trailers may appear Friday on You Tube.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved. Most photos courtesy of Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Published on: May 25, 2011 @ 2:07

‘Paranormal Idyllwild’ Film Set

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Idyllwild Arts student filmmakers are looking for ghosts. They are working on a short documentary called “Paranormal Idyllwild,” about ghosts and spirits that haunt our town.

On May 29, the second night of the student Film Screenings at Idyllwild Arts, they gave a preview of this unfinished documentary. In it, they interviewed two employees from Idyllwild Arts, and one local inn owner.

Raye DeRoss, the school’s operator/receptionist, who is also a dorm parent, said that she has heard noises and voices in the dorm that she lives in. However, whenever she would go to investigate, no one would be there. This has happened more than once.

The inn owner described pretty much the same thing. Everyone seems to have heard a lot of random noises, but no one has actually seen a ghost.

Well, maybe someone has. A former student said that he saw a young female ghost with long brown hair and a white robe hovering over a well on the Idyllwild Arts campus. This happened at night, long before he was expelled. His friend, who still attends the school, believes him.

“We need more ghost stories,” said Becca, a junior theater major, who was helping her friend, Bree, the documentary’s writer, find more content.

“We tried Googling ghosts in Idyllwild, but nothing comes up,” Becca added. “But we know there’s more ghosts stories in Idyllwild.”

In the “Haunting Idyllwild Homes,” a post on this blog site from January 2010, an unidentified woman describes her ongoing battle with a ghost that haunts her Idyllwild home. It is driving her crazy enough to move out.

Becca said that she didn’t want to interview that woman because she’s a renter.

“We need to be able to show the inside and outside of the house,” Becca said. “If we were to show it on film, we might make the person who owns the house mad at us.”

If anyone (who is not a renter) is interested in telling their ghost story, call the Moving Pictures Department at Idyllwild Arts, at (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org. But wait until the film students return in September.

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Student Documentary Screened at ShortFest 2010

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Idyllwild Arts film crew from "The Piano Virtuosos"

By Marcia E. Gawecki

On May 28-29, the Idyllwild Arts Academy screened five short films, and trailers for three documentaries. The students work was well received by those who attended, including the media. The school plans to send the short films to area film festivals for review, however, some films don’t start getting attention until almost a year later.

Case in point: “The Steinway Virtuosos,” a short documentary produced by Idyllwild Arts students last year (2009), is now being screened at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival on June 22-28. ShortFest 2010 will present more than 300 short films from 40 countries.

IA students Amelia (L) and Joel (R) interview a grade school student in one of the piano labs

ShortFest 2010 is known worldwide for its extraordinary community of filmmakers it attracts, and the quality and scope of its programming. In 2005, an Idyllwild Arts student, Alexis Echavarria won the “Audience Choice Award” for “18 Minutes,” a short film about the last 18 minutes of sunlight on earth. The 16-year-old student died before the screening at ShortFest 2009, but a student award has been set up in his name.

His mother has not forgotten Idyllwild Arts and has been generous over the years. In Oct. 2009, she dedicated “Alexis Annex,” a building on the Idyllwild Arts campus, in his name.

“She also donated all of the computers that we used to edit the films this year,” said Dr. Ira Abrams, from the Idyllwild Arts Moving Pictures Department.

Teacher and students in a piano lab sponsored by The Steinway Society

“The Steinway Virtuosos,” the 2009 student documentary, is about a piano contest sponsored by the Steinway Society of Riverside County, a nonprofit organization that helps put music back into California grade schools what government funding has cut over the years.

Ruth Moir, founder and head of the Steinway Society of Riverside County, said that she hopes that her organization will help to nurture interest in music in grade school students. They have set up a “piano lab” targeted at students from third to fifth grade, in which they learn to play on pianos at school and read music.

The Steinway Society also has an outreach program for talented piano students in which some receive piano keyboards to practice at home. Marcos, a grade school student featured in the documentary, came to the Steinway Society by accident. He was called into the principal’s office for tardiness, and saw a piano there. He asked if he could play it, and impressed the principal, who immediately called The Steinway Society.

Emily discusses the next steps with her crew

Up until that time, Moir said, he was playing “by ear” on a broken down old keyboard at a home that he shared with his single mother and sister with special needs. The Steinway Society gave him a new keyboard and music lessons, and within a year, he has learned to read music.

When the Idyllwild Arts crew came to interview him at his home near Palm Desert, he performed “I Will Always Love You,” a song he created for his grandmother who had just passed away. The strength and intensity of his playing hushed them into silence.

Kitty (L) won the Steinway Competition that is featured in the documentary

The documentary crew consisted of Amelia, Emily, Joel, Ben, and Scarlett. Two of them graduated from Idyllwild Arts on June 5. Emily plans to study film, while Amelia wants to try acting in front of the camera in her native Vancouver. Daphne or “Kitty,” who won the piano competition that was featured in “The Steinway Virtuosos” documentary, will study piano in college in the fall.

Other Idyllwild Arts music students and faculty who appear in the video include: Doug Ashcraft, Nelms McKalvin, Ie-Seul, Georgina and Timmy.

When Amelia, the producer, graduated this year, she was unaware of the screening at ShortFest 2010, but knew about its potential to appear on public television.

“Guess I’ll have to wait until it appears on TV,” she said. “That would be pretty exciting.”

Scarlett, who edited “The Steinway Virtuosos” as well as five films this year, said it was one of the most difficult to complete. She was working day and night, right up until the screenings on campus last year.

“It changed direction three times,” Scarlett said, as she groaned, remembering. “It was about the Steinway Society, and then the competition. But, in the end, we were pretty happy with the way it turned out.”

Abrams said that he hopes to attend ShortFest 2010, along with others from the Idyllwild Arts Moving Pictures Department, but the film festival is held during their summer break.

“‘The Steinway Virtuosos’ will be shown in a package appropriately called, ‘Performance Anxiety,’ which screens on Saturday, June 26,” said Dr. Abrams. “There will be nine shorts starting at 1:30 p.m., so our documentary will start an hour later, roughly at 2:30 p.m.”

For more information on ShortFest 2010, visit www.psfilmfest.org, for “18 Minutes,” visit www.alexisechavarria.com, and for attending Idyllwild Arts, visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Two Screenings for Five Student Films

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Poster for "On the Bright Side" student film

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The trailers for the five student films are already up on You Tube. The entire student body at Idyllwild Arts got to see them last week.  Now, everyone in Idyllwild can see all the films in their entirety at the “Moving Pictures Screenings” on campus this weekend. Like the Academy Awards, black tie is optional.

The five student films, all ranging from eight to 18 minutes in length, showcase the writing, directing, producing, editing, lighting, and camera work of the students in the Moving Pictures Department. Moreover, some of them even scored and acted in the films.

According to Malcom, a film student, the five short films include: “Prima Ballerina Assoluta,” about high school dancers; “Shortcomings,” a comedy about a teen with a small whatchamacallit; “Practice Room Nine,” a horror movie; “The Other Side,” an art film that no one can really explain; and “On the Bright Side,” a comedy about an optomistic teen unwilling to break-up.

Besides the five films, there will also be trailers for some documentaries that didn’t get finished this year, added Malcom.

Marietta, who wrote and is producing a documentary about fashion designers, said that sometimes it takes three to five years to complete one. Her documentary started out featuring her mother, a Russian fashion designer. However, as a senior, Marietta wasn’t concerned about someone else finishing her work next year.

“Two students from our crew will still be working on the documentary,” Marietta said. “And I’ll come back to help them edit it.”

“Because you’re the only one who speaks Russian,” said her friend, Sofia.

“No, the  last part of the documentary will be in English,” she added.

“The films are better this year,” said Scarlett, who worked on nearly all five of them.

"The Other Side," is dubbed an "art film," because it's hard to explain

She said that “Shortcomings” and “The Other Side” were the most difficult to get out of the can. Mostly because of the weather changes.

Carter, a theater student who was one of the leads in “The Other Side,” said that it was freezing when they shot some of the scenes.

The students had built a “rain machine” and they were scheduled to shoot on one of the coldest nights of the year. Any delays in shooting “The Other Side” would put other films behind, so they had to push ahead with it.

“I was shivering a lot,” Carter said. “But it looks like I was just emotional on film.”

She said that it was harder to “play dead,” and not shiver.

“Prima Ballerina Assoluta,” Dhaivat’s 18-minute short film about ballet dancers, started out as a Kung Fu ninja fighters movie, with lots of death and fight scenes.

“But then Isaac (Webb, chair of the Moving Pictures Department) and I realized that the only ones on campus athletic enough to carry off a fight scene were the dancers, so we had to change it a bit,” he said. (See “Kung Fu Ballerina” post from April 20).

"Shortcomings" is about a guy with a small whatchamacallit

Most of the actors in the films are theater, film and dance students from Idyllwild Arts, including Dakota, Miracle, Ellen, Carter, Mykal, Kia, Juwan, Luke, Lea, Oscar, Jamie, Dylan and Laura, among others. Ana Lia Lenchantin, an Idyllwild resident, plays the ballet teacher in “Prima Ballerina Assoluta.”

Many Idyllwild landmarks will appear in the student films, including Fairway Market, the dance studio and dorms on the Idyllwild Arts campus, and homes in Idyllwild.

“We’re going to put out the red carpet,” said Laura, who wrote, directed and scored “On the Bright Side,” a short about a ridiculously optomistic guy who won’t allow his girlfriend to break up with him. Laura also played the female lead in another film, “Shortcomings.”

The Moving Pictures Screenings will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 28 and 29 at the IAF Theater (in the Bowman Building) on campus. All screenings are free and open to the public. Both evenings will show the same five films. For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171. Check out the “IAA Trailers 2010” on You Tube.

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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