Saturday, February 18, 2017

Full Sail University: Hall of Fame 8

This past week I had the immense pleasure of participating as a panelist at Full Sail University's eighth Hall of Fame. This annual, week-long event consists of industry panels, job fairs, screenings, and an induction ceremony where six graduates who are doing tremendous work in their respective fields get inducted.

Picture by International Student Eduardo Notcull

I participated in five panels, three of which were recorded and you can watch below. It was so humbling to share the table with greats such as Sound Designer David Farmer (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogy) or Co-Executive Producer Troy DeVolld (Hollywood Game Night, Dancing With the Stars). I'm thankful to the students who showed up to the panels I was a part of and asked great questions, which taught me new perspectives and reinforced my knowledge in what I do.

Documentary & Activist Filmmaking panel

For me, this event was a retreat. Despite the lack of sleep and my lost voice, it has recharged my batteries and inspired me to go back to Los Angeles and work even harder and more passionately.

With HOF inductees Ashish Manshada, Jack Geckler, and David Farmer

I want to thank every "Hall of Famer," fellow graduate, student, and the faculty & staff for making me feel at home and motivating me so much. Listening to your stories and experiences, and spending time with you have affected my personal and professional life significantly. From DJ Swivel's Grammy for Closer to Steven C. Miller's new movie deal to direct Escape Plan 2 with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. I am so grateful for this new group of people I now get to call family. I'm looking forward to seeing you succeed this year and I can't wait for Hall of Fame 9.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Top 10 Motion Pictures of 2016: The Perseverance of the Human Spirit

2016 was an excellent year for motion pictures. I had the fortune of watching 57 movies on the big screen and one on the small screen (Comment below if you’re curious which one it was). From those 58, the following are my top ten of the year. As I’ve written in past “Top Ten” blogposts, these are the ten that in my humble opinion are the best due to production value, technical elements, story, acting, and the impact they left on me after experiencing them; they were topic of non-stop discussion and they made me contemplate. I also want to note that I found the diversity behind the camera (in these movies) quite fascinating; three were directed by women, two by African Americans, and one by a Chilean. Also, a shout out to A24 for distributing four of my favorite ten.

Honorable Mention: The Neon Demon, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, and Sully

10. 13th (Dir. Ava DuVernay)

I’m usually picky about including documentaries on this list, but it was so impactful, chilling, and eye-opening that I had to include it. This is an important piece that should be shown in schools all over the country. It shows a sad but true reality in an engaging way. Hopefully Ava finally gets the Oscar she so rightfully deserves.

9. Hell or High Water (Dir. David Mackenize)

Thrilling and fun, yet an accurate portrayal of the racial and economic tensions that face the country. This was a sort of modern western that is scarce on the big screen.

8. 20th Century Women (Dir. Mike Mills)

An homage to mothers and women, this is probably the most human movie I saw this year. The use of pictures is something that stood out to me. Brought to us by one of my favorite producers, Megan Ellison.

7. Moonlight (Dir. Barry Jenkins)

A movie that breaks rules and exposes you to a rarely shown world in a raw way; growing up as a black, gay man in underprivileged America. A shoutout to my friend and casting director Yesi Ramirez, CSA for casting the best ensemble of the year.

6. Lion (Dir. Garth Davis)

Similar to last year’s Room, this two act film is a magnet and a reminder that things aren’t that bad here in the United States. It's about family and finding one's roots and purpose.

5. Nocturnal Animals (Dir. Tom Ford)

This is probably the most suspenseful movie of the year (It’s up there with Don’t Breathe). I almost wanted to walk out of the movie theatre at one point, but that’s a great thing. It’s a story within a story, which makes it interesting and engaging.

4. Into the Forest (Dir. Patricia Rozema)

Directed by a woman, Into the Forest is a pro-women, pro-life movie that is underrated and should have been more widely released. Evan Rachel Wood delivered one of my favorite female performances of the year.

3. American Honey (Dir. Andrea Arnold)

My favorite release from A24, this is another movie that exquisitely portrays the disparity among social classes in the country. Intersting use of music, credits, and aspect ratio too! A must-see.

2. Jackie (Dir. Pablo Larraín)

Where do I begin with this one. Every decision on this film was on point. The score (which is my favorite of the year), that super 16 mm, the minimal use of stock footage, the production design. Along with my favorite movie of the year, I watched this twice and enjoyed it even more the second time.

1. Silence (Dir. Martin Scorsese)

The film that finally got made! After almost 30 years, Scorsese finally brings this dream project to the big screen. This was the most thought-provoking and impactful film of the year. Garfield, Rodrigo Prieto, and Scorsese deserve accolades for their work. There’s still hope for the Academy Awards.