Posts Tagged ‘Moving Pictures Department’

‘Paranormal Idyllwild’ Film Set

June 20, 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 But wait until the film students return in September.

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Student’s Single on iTunes

June 17, 2010

Laura's single first appeared in a student film

There are no limitations on what a student can do at Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Just a few short weeks ago, film student Laura H. wrote and directed her first short film, “On The Bright Side,” about an eternally optimistic guy who refuses to let his girlfriend break up with him. Laura was also the female lead in “Shortcomings,” a teen angst film created by another film student about a guy with a short whatchamacallit. They were among five films screened at the end of 2010 by the Moving Pictures Department. The IAA Trailers 2010 are now out on You Tube.

Not only was Laura a screenwriter, actor, and director this year, but she also composed and sang, “Time Bomb,” one of the songs for her film, “On the Bright Side.” Now, just one week into the summer break, the single is out on iTunes.

Along with a guitar and excellent whistler, Laura sings her first single. You can get a short preview of “Time Bomb,” for free, or purchase it for only .99 cents.

The cover of her “Time Bomb” single shows a bird’s eye view of life-sized black dominoes on a white board. In between two of the dominoes is a person, but it doesn’t look like Laura.

Earlier this year, Laura spoke about how happy she was coming to Idyllwild Arts.

“There’s a lot of support for us in the film department,” she said. “We’re a small group and everyone helps each other out.”

She said it was fun to pick the actors for her film, “On the Brighter Side.” She was debating between two excellent actors. Jamie, the one who got the part, won her over by playing it “over the top.”

After the screening, Jamie, a senior theater major, said that she may consider acting for the camera, something she had not thought of before starring in “On the Bright Side.”

She said that working with Laura was a great experience.

“She listened to our ideas, and let us run with them,” Jamie said. “I told her that I was so angry at Dylan (her co-star) that I wanted to throw a muffin at him, and Laura said, ‘Go for it!'”

The muffin scene didn’t make the final cut, but Jamie said that it was rewarding working with a writer-director who listens to an actor’s point-of-view.

Laura got a “green light” on another script that will be produced at Idyllwild Arts in the fall. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the many facets of Laura in that one too.

To listen to Laura’s new single, “Time Bomb,” visit iTunes. And for more information about the Moving Pictures Department at Idyllwild Arts, visit

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Student Documentary Screened at ShortFest 2010

June 12, 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, for “18 Minutes,” visit, and for attending Idyllwild Arts, visit

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Kung Fu Ballerina

April 20, 2010

Dhavit Mehta, writer & director

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Dhaivat Mehta loves Kung Fu movies. He’s seen them all at least five times, has got quite a DVD/VHS collection of his own, and can carry on a hefty debate with his classmates on what the best Kung Fu movie is.

“It’s definitely not ‘Kung Fu Panda,'” he said with a groan (referring to the 2008 animated movie by DreamWorks). And they went on to talk about the old masters, such as Bruce Lee and David Carradine, and which films had the worst dubbed lines.

So it’s not surprising that this senior Idyllwild Arts film major would want to write a Kung Fu, or Chinese martial arts, film.

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

“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.

The show’s title, “Prima Ballerina Assoluta,” Mehta explained, is an Italian title for a professional ballet dancer.

“We researched it, and it’s a title of utmost respect for an international ballerina with a promising career,” he said. “The title fits our movie.”

“There’s lots of beauty to be explored with dancing” he added, “but we kept some Kung Fu elements, such as a sensei.”

The sensei, or wise dance instructor, is played by Ana Lia Lenchantin, an Idyllwild resident, who hails from Argentina and has acted in a several movies before.

“The dancers act as Lenchantin’s disciples,” Mehta said, “and kneel down before her. You’ll see that in lots of Kung Fu movies.”

Ellen King is one of the dancers in the "chick fight"

“There’s also an awesome chick fight, and it’s not held on the dance floor, but in the dorm room,” he added with enthusiasm.

Those three “chicks” that fight in his film are are dance majors Dakota Bailey and Ellen King, with Miracle Chance, a theater major at Idyllwild Arts.

Bailey was seen in the lunch room last week sporting a black eye. No one batted an eyelash.

“Doesn’t it look great?” Bailey beamed. “It has been so much fun working on this movie. I think I’m going to explore acting more in college.”

Laura Holliday, another film major, created the black eye for her with a “pro bruise kit” purchased online.

“It was really amazing, all the colors that were in there, including blue, black, purple, yellow and green,” she said. “The fight scene took three days to shoot, so I adjusted the colors on Dakota’s black eye each day. By the third day, it was yellow and green.”

Dakota Bailey, seen here at another event, sports a black eye in the movie

To choreograph the fight scene, Mehta had help from Phil Dunbridge, who works in the Admissions Department at Idyllwild Arts, but had a lot of “stage combat” (fight staging) experience in college.

“I really learned a lot from him with the fight scene,” Mehta said. “I told him that I wanted it to hurt to watch that scene, and he listened to me.”

Mehta laughed about some fights he’s seen in old “B” movies, in which the men’s hats remain on their heads.

The list of experts from different departments who helped with “Prima Ballerina Assoluta” grew as production neared. Ellen Rosas, head of the Idyllwild Arts Dance Department, choreographed all of the dance scenes. And Emma Gannon, a senior from the Creative Writing Department, was brought in to help with the dialogue.

“When this became a dance movie with lots of ‘girl chat,’ I realized that I needed some help,” Mehta said. “Emma is great with all kinds of dialogue, and character stuff too.”

Most of the scenes from “Prima Ballerina Assoluta” were shot on campus, including the sound stage, Pearson and Lower Wayne dorms.

After the screenings, Mehta plans to send the short film to a variety of film festivals in the area.

Screenings of “Prima Ballerina Assoluta,” and other short films produced by students in the Idyllwild Arts Moving Pictures Department, will be held at the Rustic Theater on North Circle Drive on Friday and Saturday, May 28 & 29. All shows are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact the Idyllwild Arts Academy at (951) 659-2171 or visit

Copyright 2010 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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