Giant Puppet

Spartan Filmmakers Create Movie Magic

Giant Puppet

A crew member works on a puppet for the animated short “Behind My Behind” (courtesy of Animation/Illustration).

San Jose State University will have a big showing at the 25th Cinequest Film Festival, which runs Feb. 24 to March 8 right here in downtown San Jose.

The films are spectacular yet admission is affordable at $6 for students and $8-11 for everyone else.

“Behind My Behind”  

Associate Professor of Animation/Illustration David Chai and 43 current and former students spent three months on “Behind My Behind,” the story of a disheartened writer who reunites with his love for creativity in a secret world he finds in his couch.

“Fueled by Trader Joe’s bananas and Costco pizza, students worked on everything from animation, creating backgrounds and building puppets and sets to looking for props at flea markets,” Professor Chai said.

Behind My Behind

A scene from “Behind My Behind” (courtesy of Associate Professor David Chai).

This is Chai’s 11th film, and the first one featuring stop-motion production. The short has already won two awards and been accepted into six film festivals total.

“Animation is a ton of work,” said Professor Chai, but he and his crew added some fun.

“We had many themed days including plaid and glasses day [dressing like the main character in the film], amazing hat day, chips day, necktie day, superhero shirt day, and a disastrous uncooked rice day,” Professor Chai said.

“Bell Jar”

Joshua Pausanos, ’15 Radio-Television-Film, and three friends had a few laughs while working on their new film, “Bell Jar.” JP Emodi, ’15 RTVF, Riley Leggin, ’17 RTVF, and Nika Burnett, a UC Santa Barbara alumna, shot the film over three days.

Pausanos and Burnett wrote “Bell Jar,” inspired by Sylvia Plath’s novel, The Bell Jar.

Bell Jar

Meticulous preparations for a swim in a scene from “Bell Jar” (courtesy of Joshua Pausanos, ’15 Radio-Television-Film).

“We wanted to tell a very visual story showing the pressure and failure involved in wanting to be perfect at something. We chose to do this by following a swimmer who strives to be perfect,” Pausanos said.

“Bell Jar” won the award for best cinematography at the SJSU Campus MovieFest last October and will compete in the same category at the Campus MovieFest finale this summer in Hollywood.

“9th Hole”

Jacob Ohlausen, ’15 RTVF, and a crew of 20 current or former SJSU students produced “9th Hole,” a comical look at fathers protecting their daughters on prom night.

The film was created for Cinequest’s Barco Escape program, which uses technology to give movie goers a more immersive cinematic experience.

Instead of one screen, the Barco Escape uses three screens of images and sound, placing the viewer right in the middle of the action.

Faculty Notes: Research, Recognition and Applied Learning

Ryan Carrington

Lecturer Ryan Carrington, Department of Art and Art History, holds an MFA in spatial art from SJSU and teaches sculpture, foundry work and mold making.

Professor Ted Butryn and Associate Professor Matthew Masucci, Department of Kinesiology, spoke on February 26 at the King Library as part of the University Scholar Series on the topic of female triathletes’ awareness of doping and the anti-doping movement. Their research was funded by a two-year grant from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Lecturer Ryan Carrington, Department of Art and Art History, received an Emerging Artist/Artist Laureate Award from Silicon Valley Creates. His art explores the theme of labor through gallery installations, performances and site-specific work. He holds an MFA in spatial art from SJSU and currently teaches sculpture, foundry work and mold making.

Professor Emeritus Betty Chu, Department of Economics, was profiled last month in TheHuffington Post for her success in breeding Angora rabbits. One of the oldest kinds of domestic rabbit, the Angora rabbit, along with the Angora cat and the Angora goat, originated in Turkey. Chu holds the distinction of breeding the only Angora that has ever won the Open Best in Show award at the American Rabbit Breeder Association National Convention.

faculty notes

Asst. Prof. Kasuen Mauldin

Assistant Professor G. Craig Hobbs, Department of Art and Art History, and director of Learning and Games Consortium, organized and served as faculty advisor of Global Game Jam, held January 24-26 on campus. A competitive “hackathon” focused on game development, it was an event open to students from all majors and focused on collaboratively creating games under tight deadlines using computers, software and brainwave sensor technologies.

Assistant Professor Kasuen Mauldin, Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, received the 2014 California Dietetics Association Excellence in Research Award. Her research focuses on human metabolism and, more specifically, lipoprotein homeostasis. She will also chair the 2014 Center for Healthy Aging in a Multicultural Population (CHAMP) conference.

faculty notes

Asso. Prof. Cathleen Miller’s book

Creative writing Associate Professor Cathleen Miller and Professor Alan Soldofsky read and signed their most recent books at Barnes and Noble in San Jose on February 12. Miller’s Champion of Choice (University of Nebraska Press) is a biography of Dr. Nafis Sadik, the first female director of a United Nations agency and a renowned advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights. Soldofsky’s poetry collection, In the Buddha Factory (Truman State University Press), takes Silicon Valley as its backdrop.

Professor David Parent, Department of Electrical Engineering, has been working with Silicon Valley employers Atmel, Texas Instruments and Linear Tech to secure internships and acquire donations of equipment for the department, including boards and chips. Atmel recently recognized SJSU as one of the top universities from which to acquire talented electrical engineering graduates.

Director of Film and Television Production Babak Sarrafan won the Broadcast Education Association’s Educational/Instructional Video Award of Excellence in the faculty video category. His “Green Ninja Episode 4: Styrofoam Man” is the latest in an ongoing series featuring an environmental ninja. “My aim is to make environmental responsibility entertaining,” he said. SJSU students also took home top prizes, including Best in Show for Always Learning, a feature-length film by Robert Krakower. The BEA is the largest association of Radio-TV-Film programs in the United States with 260 member institutions.

Assistant Professor Katie Wilkinson, Department of Biological Sciences, oversaw student teams competing in the American Physiological Society’s Phantasic Physiology Voyage: “Function Follows Form” video contest. To be considered, videos had to explore, for a general public audience, a specific physiological function in five minutes or less (including credits). Students Peter Luu, Lubayna Elahi, Laura Philbin and David Tatarakis received the Judge’s Award, which carries a prize of $750, for “Avian Surgery.”

faculty notes

Prof. Emily Wughalter

Professor Emily Wughalter, Department of Kinesiology, will receive the Luther Halsey Gulick Medal from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance at the AAHPERD national conference in April. The highest award bestowed by the organization, it recognizes Wughalter’s 33 years of distinguished service to her profession. A strong advocate for girls and women in sport, she previously received the Honor Award from the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) and served as president of the Western Society for Physical Education of College Women. In January 2014, she received a distinguished service award from the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE).

 

SJSU Rivals Hollywood at Cinequest 2014

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Spartan Film Studios staff storyboards “Park Arcadia,” a short-film to be showcased at this year’s Cinequest Film Festival.

Student filmmakers may walk into the Radio-Television-Film department as amateurs but they are soon immersed in the filmmaking industry through Spartan Film Studios and the Cinequest Film Festival student short contest.

“Park Arcadia” takes audience on time leaping adventure

“Park Arcadia,” a short-film and “Mis Ojos Estan Sangrando” (“My Eyes Are Bleeding”), a student-short, will be showcased at this year’s Cinequest.

The whole point of going into film school is to have projects where you can also get real-world experience,” said Shebaz Aslam, ’13 Radio-Television-Film, producer, co-writer and cinematographer.

“Park Arcadia,” a high-concept short film, captures the story of a young woman who uses her murdered father’s invention, a dimension-jumping watch, to find a reality where he is alive.

Falling into this year’s Cinequest theme of “connect,” this film focuses on the main character desperately seeking to reconnect with her father, said Barnaby Dallas, Spartan Film Studios co-director.

dfas

Darren Rae, ’13 Radio-Television-Film and Shebaz Aslam, ’13 Radio-Television-Film.

Aslam said he and Darren Rae, ’13 Radio-Television-Film, director and co-writer, developed the short after brainstorming science fiction ideas about multi-dimensions.

Both Darren and I had been interested in film and we both dealt with the death of family member whom we were close to, and we played with this idea,” he said.

Rae said the film’s writing allows the audience to explore the character and what she experiences.

“It was about the character dealing with a loss,” he said. “I think everyone can relate to losing a loved one and this is something we wanted to capture and a way to engage with the audience.”

The film rivals anything that you would see professionally in Hollywood,” said Nick Martinez, co-director of Spartan Film Studios.

“Park Arcadia” was produced by an all-student crew with professional mentors during the summer.

“Mis Ojos Estan Sangrando”: A glimpse into a dark reality in Mexico

Liam Goulding, ’14 Radio-Television-Film, “Park Arcadia” script supervisor and casting director, said he enjoyed working with the crew in the summer program, but he also took it upon himself to submit his own student-short to Cinequest.

Mis Ojos Estan Sangrando” (“My Eyes Are Bleeding”) is a four and a half minute short that highlights the life of a filmmaker who is daunted by the task of filming the brutality of the Mexican cartels.

Goulding said this short is far from “cheesy zombie movies” he shot with his cousins at age 14.

My goal as a filmmaker with this short, and things after it,” he said, “is to just show everyone an issue [that provokes the question] how do you feel about it?”

Showcasing Student Talent

Showcasing Student Talent

Showcasing Student Talent

At the 2012 Humanities and the Arts showcase, a student demonstrates the technique behind the “Better Than Blue” portrait series covering one wall of the Student Union construction site (Vivi Yang photo).

When Lisa Vollendorf first visited San Jose State, she was blown away by the caliber of student work. At the time, she was interviewing for dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts. When she got the job, she challenged her new colleagues to collaboratively promote their talented students.

Now in its second year, the Humanities and Arts Day Student Showcase 1-4 p.m. Oct. 25 in the Student Union’s Barrett Ballroom has matured into a must-see program featuring musical performances, poetry readings, theatrical shorts and booths offering information on many of the college’s programs.

The event coincides with Homecoming Week. Alumni are invited to experience the showcase’s many innovative offerings. Highlights include:

View the Humanities and Arts Day Student Showcase program.

Young man looking down, while a little boy sits on his shoulders. A woman looks off to the side smiling.

Cinequest Completes 23rd Year

By Sarah Kyo and Amanda Holst, SJSU Marketing and Communications

A Korean family wearing traditional clothing and a dog standing in front of a Korean house

“A Knock on My Door”

Spartans left their mark on the recent Cinequest 23 film festival, whether through short films or features, live action or animation.

The downtown San Jose event wrapped up March 10 with Encore Day, re-airing award winners and fan favorites.

Among the showings was Shorts Program: Animated Worlds, a collection of animated short films including “A Knock on My Door,” which depicts the life of SJSU Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering Hi-Dong Chai. His son David, an SJSU animation/illustration professor, directed the piece.

Chai said he and his wife had an opportunity to watch his life on the big screen during Cinequest. He is grateful that his son turned his life into a movie and remembered the first time he saw “A Knock on My Door.” 

“My first reaction was, ‘When did he learn all about what was shown on the film?’ because I did not remember telling my life stories to him,” he said. “Secondly, I was really impressed. Somehow he put my 50 years of life experience in a 10-minute animation movie in such a way that the story is complete in itself. My coauthor and I e-published Blossom and Bayonets, a historical novel based on the life of my family under Japan last October, and it is 400+ pages long and only covers half of my story.  But Dave did it in 10 minutes in a very meaningful way.”

Since retiring from teaching in 2002, Chai has dedicated himself to writing about his life and the hardships that his family faced during World War II and the Korean War. He has worked with coauthor Jana McBurney-Lin on e-publishing a book and short stories.

Spotlight on Spartan Films

Mom and son talking to a man at a desk

“Always Learning”

The San Jose Repertory Theatre was packed March 5 as anxious onlookers, many who watched the rough cut about this time last year, waited to see the final cut of “Always Learning,” a coming-of age film through the eyes of a home-schooler.

Before the showing, Cinequest spotlighted San Jose State’s Spartan Film Studios in a panel discussion, highlighting the hands-on opportunities given to students in making highly expert films.

The forum opened with an interview with executive producers Barnaby Dallas and Nick Martinez, alongside the directors of “All About Dad” and “Cheap Fun. ”

When asked what Spartan Films adds to the Cinequest culture, Dallas articulated that it was about the teamwork of theatre and radio working together to provide folks that “Napoleon Dynamite” aspect.

“We use all resources at SJSU to harness ideas that evolve,” Dallas said. “When our films get in [Cinequest], it’s a great opportunity for our students.”

On the topic of creating opportunity for students to work with professional mentors, production management instructor Martinez emphasized the significance of the hands-on component of filmmaking.

“We give every student an opportunity to see what it’s like in real life,” Martinez said. “The ones who know they want to gain experience know what they need to do and get a safety net in college.”

“Always Learning” gave 60 students the opportunity to produce a full-length feature. The actual filming took 26 days with students working up to 90 hours weekly to wrap up shooting on time and within budget. The film won a Rising Star award at the 2013 Canadian Film Festival.

SJSU TW Cinequest Slideshow

Cinequest Showcases Spartan Films

San Jose State is playing a leading role in Cinequest 23, the film festival underway now through March 10 in downtown San Jose.

The films from SJSU’s radio, television and film and animation/illustration programs are definitely worth seeing, not just because they are professional quality, but also because they offer real insight into the lives of people who may be sitting right next to you in class.

Cinequest student tickets for regular movie screenings are $5 with a valid student ID, while general admission is $10. Prices vary for special events, and festival passes are also available for purchase. Want to check out films and events with ties to SJSU? Here’s more:

“KILL NO EVIL”

Backside view of cowboy grabbing gun

“Kill No Evil”

Students created this brief cowboy showdown for an intermediate film/TV production course taught by RTVF Professor Harry Mathias. A one-minute version is being shown before a feature-length Chinese Western movie, “An Inaccurate Memoir.”

  1. Mathias said this is the first SJSU student short film that will be shown outside of Cinequest’s Student Shorts collection.
  2. “It really is a testament to the fact that with hard work, a clear concept and a dedicated crew, you can achieve anything in the film business,” said cinematographer Shehbaz Aslam. “The fact that the short is being shown as a companion piece to ‘An Inaccurate Memoir’ is an honor in that not only will it give the short exposure, but that it will be shown before a film shot by a cinematographer I really admire, Yu Cao, whose work was part of the visual inspiration of the short.”
  3. Director Ricky Dellinger said the original filming location was supposed to be Bodie, a Californian ghost town located six hours away from the Bay Area. “We scouted the area and thought it was perfect, but of course due to our college student budget, we didn’t have enough money to pay the fee to film there,” he said. Instead, Montgomery Hill Park in San Jose was a stand-in for the Wild West.

“SPOTLIGHT ON SPARTAN FILMS”

Mom and son talking to a man at a desk

“Always Learning”

Spartan Film Studios provides students with real-life filmmaking experience, according to production coordinator Barnaby Dallas and studio coordinator Nick Martinez. Some of the on-campus production company’s feature-length films have been featured at Cinequest in the past, including “All About Dad” and “Super Hero Party Clown.” The directors of these two films, in addition to Dallas and Martinez, will be part of this forum.

  1. A preview of Spartan Film Studios’ latest feature, “Always Learning,” will be shown at this event. This coming-of-age story is relatable to director Robert Krakower, ’11 radio-television-film, since he was homeschooled just like the main character.
  2. Spartan Film Studios was recently featured in the Metro’s Cinequest preview and on the front page of the San Jose Mercury News.
  3. In addition to cinema, Spartan Film Studios has worked on a variety of projects, including filming the 2012 Spartan football team intro, creating a SJSU commercial that aired on ESPN and participating in the Green Ninja project.

“SHORTS PROGRAM 4: ANIMATED WORLDS”

Old man and younger man riding in a car

“A Knock on My Door”

In this collection of diverse animated films is a personal piece directed  by Animation/Illustration Professor David Chai. “A Knock on My Door” is the biographical story of Chai’s father, SJSU Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering Hi-Dong Chai, who escapes war-torn Korea to make a new life in the United States.
  1. Just like in the film, Chai went on a cross-country road trip with his father, who was in the process of writing about his life. The trip was a reminder of how none of us know what our parents went through before we were born. In Hi Dong Chai’s case, the losses were gut-wrenching, but Chai said the story is ultimately about perseverance.
  2. About 70 students and alumni helped with the short film last summer, including alumni who work at Dreamworks, Zynga and “American Dad.”
  3. This film won the gold medal in the Moving Image Category at the New York Society of Illustrators 55th Annual Exhibition, marking the first time that SJSU has earned this distinction.
Cinequest showcases up-and-coming filmmakers, including Michelle Ikemoto, ’12 animation/illustration. Ikemoto directed the short animated film “Tule Lake” about her grandmother’s World War II experience at the Tule Lake internment camp located south of the California-Oregon border.
  1. With her health worsening, Ikemoto’s grandmother began opening up about her time at Tule Lake. This inspired Ikemoto, who was looking for a short story for one of her animation classes.
  2. Ikemoto and student artists visited Tule Lake, but the camp had been deconstructed. Instead, the best resource came from the Japanese American Museum of San Jose where they studied replica barracks at an exhibit. They also met a museum docent who was construction director at Tule Lake and  gave them access to a personal collection of photos.
  3. “Tule Lake” has earned multiple awards, including top prizes at the 2012 CSU Media Arts Festival and 2012 CreaTiVe Awards. It was also nominated in the student film category at the 40th Annual Annie Awards, “the highest honor given for excellence in animation,” according to its website.

Director Shohei Shiozaki, ’04 radio-television-film, makes his feature debut with this tale of a Brazilian immigrant boy Ricardo, his friend Hanako and a magical, blue goldfish. The children try to protect the fish, the reincarnated spirit of a Chinese princess, from opposing forces including the mayor and Japanese gangs.

  1.  This Japanese film is set in Shiozaki’s hometown of Yamato Koriyama in Nara Prefecture, an area known for raising ornamental goldfish. This tradition, coupled with a desire to make a movie in his hometown with local resources, inspired the director. “I thought it might be a good idea to start writing a story about it and I tried to speak to the local people, ‘Let’s make a movie in our hometown,’” he said. “And after three years of financing and finding the support, the film finally got made.”
  2. Just like the character Ricardo, the young actor Takeshi Nagata is actually Japanese-Brazilian. There were more than 200 auditions among the Japanese-Brazilian community for this lead role, and Nagata, who makes his screen debut, stood out for being the funniest, Shiozaki said.
  3. Shiozaki took an SJSU class taught by Cinequest director and co-founder Halfdan Hussey and was a 2002 film festival intern. Because of that internship, he became acquainted with John Williams, a Welsh filmmaker based in Japan. “When I went back to Japan for summer break, I called him and eventually I was able to enter the Japanese film industry,” Shiozaki said. “He is the producer of ‘Goldfish Go Home,’ so we both came back to Cinequest after eight years of time. So … it is true that SJSU gave me all the chances and opportunity to become a filmmaker.”