I’m a film lover, but there was never any ‘inciting incident’ in my own life. It was all happenstance and discovery, with some talent sprinkled in for good measure.
Let’s rewind the tape back to my childhood. I’m a fun-loving skater growing up in La Crescenta. I don’t know many tricks, but I know how to bomb down a hill. Skateboarding was more than just my primary mode of transportation as a kid; it was a lifestyle, and the only one I cared about.
Eventually, my friends and I happened upon an old camcorder and began filming our escapades. We were obsessed with the skate videos of the ‘90s and 2000s – Toy Machine’s Welcome to Hell and Flip’s Sorry were two of our favorites – which we saw as underground art objects. We weren’t telling stories yet. We were simply capturing moments that felt momentous to us. Keep in mind, this is all long before I fell in love with movies.
Eventually, playing around with equipment led to our gang attempting to fashion a narrative. Out of what, you ask? Well, out of whatever was available to us at the time. We really had no idea what we were doing, but our work had plenty of heart.
Being obsessed with skate videos at a young age, you want to know everything about them. Where did they film that scene? What piece of music are they using there? Then you start to think about what cameras the D.P. used, and the composition of certain shots. I began reading about the gear used for these videos, and realized that a lot of it was also used to shoot real, legitimate films.
My later dalliances with film were similarly esoteric. I tried my hand at making an ambitious, admittedly not very good two-part horror movie before I graduated high school. My senior year, after an injury prevented me from playing football, I began documenting and calling games while nursing myself back to health.
I’m a local boy, so I was always aware of the ArtCenter legend. After a stint in the army, I graduated from Cal State Northridge and began looking into grad school options. USC was a no. After a few more rejections, my motivation began to wane. I found myself falling back into old habits, the foremost of which was my passion for film. Turns out, I couldn't turn it off.
I’m currently working on editing a short film called Nuke! that I made for ArtCenter. It’s a Zoom movie, with a very small crew – five actors, if you can believe it – which means I have extremely limited resources and have to get creative with the decisions I make. That means trying out different permutations in the rough cut, and not being married to any one method.
Editing is just one skill I want to master! Sometimes I fantasize about having a Willy Wonka-type “golden ticket” that allows me to visit and learn from any set. Wouldn’t it be incredible to just be a fly on the wall and watch cinema’s seasoned professionals go about their work?
I’ve always thought ArtCenter should have more of a reputation as a filmmaker’s school. After all, graduates have included the likes of Zack Snyder, Michael Bay, and Tarsem Singh, as well as great cinematographers like Larry Fong, and renowned screenwriters like Ross LaManna as Chair of the department. ArtCenter may feel hidden, just out of plain sight, but perhaps it’s true that some of the grandest plans are made in relative obscurity.
We live in a time of tremendous flux and possibility in terms of the future of filmmaking and film distribution. Streaming is now more commonplace than going to a movie theater. There’s a possibility that theaters, if and when they make a comeback, will become like the opera – a specialized, somewhat elite experience.
Have we forfeited the pleasures that come with submitting to a public creative spectacle in favor of living in a self-sustained loop of our own stimuli? More importantly, how will the next generation of ArtCenter filmmakers adapt to these totemic changes?
I don’t have the answers to these questions. I’m just as curious as you are. I’m a participant, a fan, an observer, and above all else, along for the ride. I’m excited to see how the future unfolds. After all, I’m a part of it, and so are you.
MFA 21 Film
Freelance Film Production Coordinator, US Army Veteran