RTVF GRAD SAILA KARIAT’S FEATURE FILM “THE VALLEY” TO HAVE THEATRICAL RELEASE

SJSU RTVF grad Saila Kariat’s feature-length drama “The Valley,” about an Indian high tech entrepreneur whose college freshman daughter commits suicide, is having a Bay Area Theatrical release in Pale Alto (www.bit.ly/thevalleypaloalto), San Francisco (www.bit.ly/thevalleysanfran), and other cities across the country, as well as a simultaneous VOD release. 


On the heels of a successful film festival run, the acclaimed, award-winning drama will enjoy a one-week theatrical run, opening June 8, in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Washington D.C.; as well as a special screening in Palo Alto, Calif., June 11-12. The film will also be available on VOD June 16 on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. It was written, produced and directed by SJSU radio-television-film major Saila Kariat in her feature film debut; and stars Alyy Khan, Suchitra Pillai, Jake T. Austin, Barry Corbin, Christa B. Allen, Agneeta Thacker, Salma Khan and Hope Lauren.

In “The Valley,” ambitious and highly successful Indian-American entrepreneur Neal Kumar (Alyy Kahn) – with wife, Roopa (Suchitra Pillai), and daughters, Monica (Salma Kahn) and Maya (Agneeta Thacker) – enjoy an affluent Silicon Valley lifestyle that appears idyllic, so when Maya tragically commits suicide during her freshman year at college, no one seems to know why. With the family struggling to survive a culture in which relationships and human connection are almost impossible to maintain, Neal embarks on a frantic journey to uncover the truth about his daughter’s death. When he doesn’t find answers at home, he travels to her campus to speak with the people who surrounded Maya in her final days. As work and family unravel in the chaos, the fractured nature of his life begins to become apparent to him and everyone around him. When the elusive reasons are finally revealed – as well as the heartbreaking secrets kept by her and the rest of his family – is it too late for them all to come back together?

“The Valley” – which also had a week-long theatrical run in April in India in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Delhi and Mumbia – has been awarded Best Feature Film, Best Actress (Suchitra Pillai), Best Supporting Actress (Agneeta Thacker) and Best Original Score (Jacob Yoffee), 2017 Long Island International Film Festival; Best Feature Film and Best Director—Female (Saila Kariat), 2017 Out of the Can Film Festival; Best Original Screenplay (Saila Kariat), 2017 Madrid International Film Festival; Best Lead Actress (Suchitra Pillai), 2017 Milan International Filmmaker Festival; Best Film and Best Cinematographer (Paul Nordin), 2017 International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema Berlin; Best Feature Film Jury Award, 2017 DC South Asian Film Festival, Best Feature Film Grand Jury Award, 2017 Portland Film Festival. More information, and a trailer, can be found at www.thevalleyfilm.com.

Vikas Dhurkas’ Play AIRPORT INSECURITY to debut at the Cubberley Theater

Silicon Valley high tech business leader Vikas Dhurka had always wanted to learn screenwriting, so he signed up for Professor  Scott Sublett’s online screenwriting class through Open University. Vikas wrote a hilarious (and autobiographical) feature-length screenplay about a businessman stuck in an airport without a passport. When Professor Sublett suggested that Vikas’s funny, charming screenplay Airport Insecurity might also work as a stage play, Vikas got to work.

Now, Nataak, the biggest and most prominent Indian American company in America, loves the play and will present a production of it February 24 through March 4, 2017 at the Cubberley Theater in Palo Alto.

“I will never forget the day I chanced upon the class,” Vikas recalls. “May 26th, 2016. I had to return some properties we borrowed from the SJSU prop shop. As I was walking back, I saw the flyer for RTVF 160 Screenwriting on the notice board. I always wanted to write. I sent Prof. Sublett an email once I got back to my desk and got his positive response an hour later. Life, as they say, was never the same.”

For more information on the theatre company and the play (including auditions), check out Nataak’s website: http://www.naatak.com/

What Are TRFT Alumni Doing Now?

In no  particular order, here are what some of TRFT’s fabulous alumni are up to these days:

  • Tre Nixon has moved to Los Angeles and is finishing his degree down there while also working with music managers at Element One in Hollywood. He is studio recording an EP, which will be released through a series of five music videos; the first is going into production this fall and will be released on YouTube.
  • Emily Long Patterson has  relocated to L.A. and just landed an internship as the assistant to the Director of Development for Eclectic Pictures in Hollywood. She will be working on the next JK Simmons project. She has also landed an ongoing music gig performing with her band at the Pig n Whistle in Hollywood.
  • Spencer Greene finished a lead role in an indie film and produced the art direction on the SJSU summer film with Albert Sanchez. He has just been signed with JTA Talent Agency in Los Angeles and will be heading down for pilot season soon.
  • Paul Sawyer is teaching Theatre and Life Skills at West Valley Middle School. He recently appeared in Broadway West’s production of A Few Good Men. He is working for his sixth year on his website hsspotlite.com (The High School Theatre Spotlight).
  • Jessica Salans is, in her own words, “actively fighting against the oligarchic, elitist establishment of America. ”
  • Amber Hedges is completing her Master’s thesis in Communications and Culture at the University of Calgary. She also works with the Pacer program in Alberta. “It’s a program that guides patients to do their own research and be a part of medical discourse and shape policies and programs that affect their ailments and recoveries.”
  • Jenine Guisto “is fighting the good fight in Hollywood.”
  • Erica Schwehr is going into her last year of grad school at CalArts and just finished her summer internship with Universal Creative in Hollywood.
  • Dinna Myers now lives in Australia and is the Lighting Designer for Musical Theatre Gisborne’s production of Aladdin.
  • Erin Haney is on tour with Phantom of the Opera as star dresser for Christine and Carlotta
  • Chris Gaoira has started “pre-pre-pre-production” on a TV series, Talk to the End, which involves arm and rod puppets and tabletop role-playing games
  • Robert Solis has worked for the last 18 years as a graphic designer with the American Cancer Society and recently played Romero in Victor Herbert’s Serenade with Lyric Theatre of San Jose.
  • Jessica McGinty is working on Broadway as Hair Swing on Kinky Boots, Aladdin and Fiddler on the Roof. She freelances as a wig builder
  • Kelly Lehane works as a Group Sales Rep at SHN Broadway in San Francisco. Sheis entering her sixth year as a Stage Manager for Redbarn Productions at The Dickens Fair.
  • Keith Gehrig is in the second year of his MFA in Arts Leadership.
  • David Tousley received his MFA in Design from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2015. He worked recently with Broadway set designer Robert Brill on the live production of Frozen at California Adventure. and he now works as a PA for New York Fashion Week and assisting set designer, Scott Pask.
  • Roxi Nobaris is currently training to specialize in Drama Therapy as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern.
  • Josh Marx earned his MFA in 2013 from Rutgers and Is directing “A Few Good Men” at Hillbarn this fall. He is also involved in helping produce the upcoming immersive experience, The Speakeasy.
  • Gina Mathios works g as an actress and PA in San Francisco
  • Christina Sturken has worked the past three years as a Sales Associate at Musson Theatrical. She also works as a freelance Props Designer and Stage Manager around the Bay Area.
  • Amy Lizardo is now a member of Actors Equity and has acted in productions at Berkeley Rep, ACT, SF Playhouse and CalShakes. She will return this falll to Oregon Shakespeare Festival to act and teach for their school visit program.

News from Justin Germono, RTVF Grad 2012

JGRecent RTVF grad Justin Germono checked in recently with Professor Scott Sublett and offered the following update:

After graduating from the department in the Spring of 2012, I made the move down to Los Angeles diving right into freelance production work, specializing in non-fiction television. I quickly climbed the ranks, landing my first producing job on hit CBS reality series ‘Big Brother’ in the Summer of 2013. Since, I’ve done several more seasons of ‘Big Brother,’ and associate produced other hits such as FOX’s ‘MasterChef,’ CNBC’s ‘Restaurant Startup.’”

I just launched a website, too; www.germono.net.” 

Sounds as if things are going great for Justin! RTVF graduates rock!

RTVF Alum Lauren Serpa Wins in BEA Scriptwriting Competition

Lauren Serpa at BEA 2015

Lauren Serpa at BEA 2015

Congratulations to RTVF alum Lauren Serpa (currently earning an MFA in SJSU’s Creative Writing Program in the English Department). Lauren’s screenplay Where We Start won Second Prize in Narrative Feature Scriptwriting  in the Broadcasting Education Association’s  Student Scriptwriting Competition.

The BEA is the nation’s largest organization of RTVF programs and its Festival of Media Arts is the nation’s most important student film competition.

Click for a full list of this year’s winners.