Festival offers relief with student films
By Daily Bruin Staff
June 2, 1996 9:00 pm
Monday, June 3, 1996
"Spring Festival ’96" to screen shorts at Melnitz, dead week By
Daily Bruin Contributor
UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television is offering
students a great way to liven up dead week. From June 7 to June 15,
"Spring Festival ’96," will offer an intense program of student
films giving students a study break and a chance to see work from
Hollywood’s future filmmakers before they start to charge people to
see their movies.
"There are over 80 live action films, plus animation," says Hal
Ackerman, a professor for the School of Theater, Film and
Television and the person responsible for "Spring Festival ’96."
"They give the students a chance to be recognized for their work.
It’s a collective expression of film."
The collective expression includes work from graduate and
undergraduate screenwriters, directors and animators. Some of the
most outstanding work done by these students will be honored in
"Spotlight Night." This program, which features the crÃ¨me de
la crÃ¨me of graduate films, takes place at the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and it will be hosted by the Dean
of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, Gilbert Cates.
Previous "Spotlight Night" filmmakers who have been included in the
show are directors Brad Siberling ("Casper") and Allison Anders
("Gas Food Lodging"). Films chosen for "Spotlight Night" are
excellent, but all the festival’s films are professional examples
of cutting-edge cinema.
Jesse Negron’s "Initiation," for example, is one of the most
impressive films featured in the festival. A 25-minute short about
a man’s struggle to please his neo-Nazi uncle, its story convinced
Panavision to loan high quality cameras to the student
"It was based on an article in a magazine about a Nazi kid who
killed his parents and was kind of a hero amongst his group,"
explains Negron. "Most of the film is fiction though. I felt that
people couldn’t sympathize with the main character. I mean, all
those Nazis are creeps, so I made him have a child. That way his
true motivation was to protect his child."
This controversial story, which will be screened on June 15, is
one of the most polished films that will be screened for the
festival. Part of the film’s impressive look is due to the way it
"Panavision sent me a camera package free of charge," says
Negron, who explained that Panavision rewards only one of every 80
requests they receive to borrow one of their $100,000-plus cameras.
"I showed them my work and explained what I wanted to do with this
film. They were interested that I wanted to shoot in the snow and
they liked my vision for the film so they let me do this in
Once Negron got in the snow, however, things did not go as
smoothly as he had hoped.
"It was a disaster, a nightmare," recalls Negron. "We were going
to shoot nearby, but we kept having delays so by the time we could
start all the local snow had melted. We were between nine and
11,000 feet in the Sierras and it was so cold that we could hardly
build tracks in the snow for the dollies the camera had to move on.
It was still fun as hell though."
Negron was not the only one having fun. Director by Marc
Marriott, who made the 10-minute short, "Short Order," gave
Marriott a chance for him and his wife to hang out in France.
"’Short Order’ was one of five films that received an award at
the Henri Langois International Film Festival," says Marriott of
the student film festival where he won the prestigious Prix Canal
Plus award. "They paid for my wife and I to go over there and we
had fun just kicking it there but I never thought I would win. I
can’t believe it’s done so well."
He attributes his film’s success to its simplicity. Centered
around a diner whose cook is suddenly whisked away so the customers
are left behind, this light-hearted look into a unique moment was
inspired by a short story.
"You can only do so much with a short film," explains Marriott.
"I thought it was a simple but good idea to use a short story, and
the story I found was the genesis of the film. I added a back story
to it, but the framework of the film is that story."
But not all student films took the easy route. Animator In-Gyoo
Jang used creative computer animation to make "Kamikaze," a satire
of a Japanese pilot going off to war. Jerilyn Mettlin’s "The
Cocoon," a hilarious but grotesque look at a mother, her son and
his bug collection, boasts top-notch computer animation as
But regardless of how technical filmmakers got, they all used
unique filming styles for varied film genres. The festival provides
students with a chance to see up and coming Hollywood filmmakers as
a study break for finals.
"It is a showcase of the work of a new generation of talent,"
explains Ackerman, the festival’s organizer. "All these people are
the next Spielbergs and Coppolas, so come see their work before
they make it big."
FILM: "Spring Festival ’96." At Melnitz Theater from June 7 to
June 15. "Spotlight Night" will be at the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences. To RSVP for "Spotlight Night"or any other night,
call (310) 825-5761. A complete guide to events is available at
(Top) Richard Gaubert is Norman Saxon in Orion Walker’s "Milk
and Cookies, or The Ballad of Norman Saxon." (Below) Veralyn Jones
and Sharon Lawrence co-star in "The Pepper Pot."