A Taste of Independence from the Newport Beach Film Festival

Jessica Taylor

For the third year, Saddleback filmmakers have entered the Newport Beach Film Festival’s College Showcase. With a prime showing on closing night of the festival, a college garnered a sold-out theater for the first time ever.

“In the other college showcases, I saw crowds of 25 or 30,” said Charlie Myers, head of the film department. “I have never seen a college show sell out before or receive a standing ovation.”

Other colleges participating in the showcase were UCLA, USC, Chapman, CSUF, CSULB, Loyola Marymount, and Orange Coast College.

“When we first got into Newport, the other schools were four-year institutions,” Myers said. “It took some persuasion but I believe that we have solidly exhibited that we can hang with the ‘big boys’ of film production without question.”

Students worked hard to create and produce these films, and in the end Myers chose four pieces to present – “The Window”(Director Srikanth Galla), “Stabbing Abby” (Dir. Nickolas Salb), “Starfish” (Dir. Jeremy Irion), and “Finding Chance” (Dir. John Nasteff).

The four shorts were received very well, with a standing ovation at the culmination of the longest piece “Finding Chance.” Following the viewing, Nasteff, Salb, and some of the “Stabbing Abby” crew answered questions for moviegoers.

“The depth of these pieces for being student film makers is phenomenal,” Myers said. “Seeing these students do well gives me a rush.”

The opportunity to present films at this renowned festival offers unique opportunities to the student filmmakers.The students involved expressed the desire to be accepted to an accredited four-year university filmmaking program to further their education in the ever-changing industry.

“There are several advantages to being a part of the Newport Beach Festival,” Myers said. “First, all pictures get automatically eligible to be listed on the Internet Movie Database. The big thing about being IMBD listed is that it makes you ‘certified,’ in that you have legitimate credits. You can only get on the IMBD if you gained entry into a juried film festival or gained national distribution. It makes our students eminently more hirable.

Second, there have been a number of occasions where the filmmakers got job offers straight after the festival screening. In fact, I have two students right now who are working on feature films due to the exposure they received from previous festivals.”

Each film offered a unique concept. “The Window” raises questions of jealousy and kindness while “Stabbing Abby” was a comedic way to focus on lust, love, and violence. “Starfish” dealt with selfless kindness, and “Finding Chance” wove a tale of how all people are affected by many others in their lifetime.

“It dawned on me that it doesn’t matter who you are, you are a collaboration of many people,” said John Nasteef, 26, film. “Some people you know, some people you have already forgotten, but they could completely change a person’s path.”

The films were professional, with believable and trained actors, including Arjay Smith, best known for his work in “The Day After Tomorrow”. The department is in Screen Actors Guild (union) agreement, meaning the department works as hard as possible to retain professionalism.

Filmmakers are also offered scholarships funded by the Saddleback College Foundation and Associated Student Government. According to Myers, around $4,000 in total scholarships are awarded to the students.

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