Displaying items by tag: Film and Media Arts

It is our great pleasure to present the 2020 Outstanding Seniors from the University of Utah College of Fine Arts. Each year,  our five academic units nominate an outstanding senior for their academic achievements, artistic and scholarly accomplishments, and ongoing commitment to their craft. These graduating students continue the CFA's tradition of sending strong creative leaders out into the art world. Congratulations, and our hats off to you! 

A Message from Liz Leckie, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs

Pisti Gamvroulas AAH

 Name: Pisti Gamvroulas
Majors and minors: Art with Graphic Design Emphasis, Minor in Arts & Technology
Hometown: Salt Lake City, UT
Three words that describe you: Loyal, Hard-working, and Compassionate
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Xi Zhang’s Drawing 1 Course. Xi is an exceptionally kind and genuine human who cares for each and every one of his students. He is consistently pushing them to do their best work, and experiment in their process. His instruction allowed me to explore my strengths and to understand my weaknesses and how I could improve myself. 
Most memorable moment at CFA: Learning about and working in the wood shop during my Foundations year and somehow leaving with all my limbs attached. 
One thing you learned at CFA: Community matters. It’s important to connect with others that can understand and support you through the challenges you face in a creative industry, and that can cheer you on through the successes you accomplish. Being connected with others helps you grow as a creative and find spectacular humans that you can form relationships with for years to come. 
What inspires you: Humanistic Design/Art/Research/Places that motivate people to connect with one another and/or share human experiences. Designers like Timothy Goodman, who’s work expresses his emotions and tells stories that everyone can relate to, is very inspiring. Spaces like the National Museum of American History that focus on visitor interaction offer multiple forms of insight into how we can create spaces that bring people together. Podcasts like “The Happiness Lab”, that offer scientific insight into how we can live more content lives and connect with others. 
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: During my time at the University of Utah, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with campus programs such as the Office of Student Success & Empowerment, The Muse Project, Bennion Center, and Intramural Sports. I created my own student organization called “U Got Game?” based on bringing students together to learn a variety of sports, and am the VP of the UofU AIGA, helping create a community amongst all design practices at the U. In the summer of 2019 I was fortunate enough to intern with the exhibition design team at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, in Washington D.C. I will be interning with an interdisciplinary architectural company, Sasaki, in Massachusetts this upcoming summer. 
One sentence that describes your work: Human centered design/art that uses humor, color, and/or bright subjects to create positive solutions for a variety of people. 


"Pisti’s participation in class, enthusiasm and diligent work habits set a wonderful example for her fellow classmates. She consistently goes above and beyond what is expected of her, both academically and beyond. It is not very often that we have the opportunity to engage with such a committed student. This same commitment to learn is also demonstrated in her pursuit in a career in graphic design. This led to landing a coveted, nationally competitive design internship at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC. This demonstrates her high degree of self-motivation and professionalism. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Pisti is a pleasure to work with. She engages with her teachers and fellow students with a smile on her face. Even in  the midst of tackling a difficult design problem, Pisti enthusiastically takes on the challenge. Upon solicitation of faculty members for nominations for this award; we received multiple glowing reviews of Pisti. Her love for design is obvious and her positivity is contagious. In addition to her success in the Graphic Design Program and fulfilling the Interdisciplinary Capstone Project in Arts and Technology, she is highly involved in campus life. She is a MUSE scholar, serves as the AIGA (professional organization for design) student body president, and was the lead ambassador for the U of U’s  Undergraduate Studies Student Success and Empowerment Program. This are just a few of the many contributions she has made to the campus community." 

- Carol Sogard
Professor, Department of Art & Art History 

“Pisti is a kind, intelligent, passionate, and brave artist and designer. Pisti’s highly artistic achievements reflects these qualities. I do not doubt she will be a celebrated star in the design community.”
- Xi Zhang
Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Art History 


Cameron Mertz SoD

Name: Cameron Mertz
Majors and minors: Modern Dance major with a minor in Psychology
Hometown: Walnut Creek, CA
Three words that describe you: Compassionate, hard-working, resilient
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Junior year improv with Stephen Koester 
Most memorable moment at CFA: Performing “The Middle Way” choreographed by Molly Heller in the 2018 School of Dance Gala at Kingsbury Hall.
One thing you learned at CFA: I learned the importance of allowing myself to be vulnerable in my artmaking even when it’s uncomfortable and scary because, ultimately, that has led me to create work that is personally meaningful and memorable to me.
What inspires you: I’m inspired by things that I experience in my daily life, specifically interactions with people around me, whether intentional or not. I think it’s more fun to be inspired by the mundane than grandeur.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: 

  • 2017-2018 Before She Sleeps in the Sand Choreography by Pamela Gaber-Handman, Performed as part of Legacy Assembly/ Performed as part of American College Dance Association Northwest Conference, selected for Gala Performance/ Performed as part of Breaking Ground Dance & Film Festival/ Performed as part of Performing Dance Company
  • 2017-2018- Awarded the Departmental Scholarship from the Modern Program of the School of Dance at the University of Utah
  • 2018- The Middle Way Choreography by Molly Heller, Performed as part of School of Dance Gala Concert
  • 2018- The Wallflowers Choreography by Brooklyn Draper, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert/ Performed as part of 12 Minutes Max/ Performed as part of Mudson
  • 2019- A Collective Resilience Choreography by Daniel Do, Performed as part of Repertory Dance Theater’s Emerge
  • 2019- Surge Choreography by Anouk Van Dijk, Performed as part of The School of Dance Gala/ Performed as part of Salt Spring Concert2019- Gaga Summer Intensive (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • 2019- Parachute Princess Choreography by E’lise Jumes, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert2019- Becoming Choreography by Joanna Lees, Performed as part of the Graduate Thesis Concert
  • 2020- Grey Raven Choreography by Eric Handman, Performed as part of the School of Dance Gala

One sentence that describes your work: For me, I find it important that my work remains honest, explorative and evolving.  


“'WHO IS SHE?!' I remember asking when I first saw Cameron perform on stage at the MCD—she was a newly arrived freshman dancing in a piece by LA hiphop artist Jackie Lopez. Even then, a month into college, her maturity, clarity, fierceness, and stage presence was palpable. She shone on stage. And this star quality has grown exponentially while at the School of Dance. Cameron is a consummate dance artist--- a creative contributor who posseses an absolutely compelling stage presence, a deep thinker, and someone who shows grace and humanity in everything she does." 
- Satu Hummasti
Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs and Associate Professor, School of Dance

"Cameron’s committed, vibrant energy draws people to her. She is incredibly hard working and a curious, questioning artist at heart. Cameron is an exceptionally invested artist, one with great integrity, who seeks new research opportunities and mentorship to broaden her dancing life. She not only inspires others with her expansiveness as a performer, but she also exudes humility and perseverance. Inside the classroom, onstage, and within a creative process, she has earned the deep respect of her peers and faculty."

"Faculty feel that Cameron has been, '…an integral part of my choreographic research, influencing the direction, intensity, and depth of the research itself,' and, 'She raises everyone’s game. Inspiring, indefatigable, tirelessly creative and physically powerful.' Her peers feel that she, '…is truly a poetic movement artist. She is incredibly insightful, filled with creative guttural decision-making abilities. Cameron has the ability to always include her unique voice, physical quirks, textures and tonalities in anything that she does. It is a superpower of hers, to always include herself in anything she does; transcending ideas beyond movement, making dance seem otherworldly at times.'" 
-Michael Wall
Modern Dance Program Head & Associate Professor, School of Dance


Katie Phillips FMAD

Name: Katie Rose Phillips
Majors and minors: Film and Media Arts Major, Production Emphasis
Hometown: Midland, Michigan
Three words that describe you: Creative, Confident, Candid
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Sonia and Miriam Albert-Sobrino
Most memorable moment at CFA: When I was studying abroad in Italy one of the students, Brady Brown, had a scene in his film where he had to jump through a fence and every student on the trip came and helped film that one shot. It was hysterical.
One thing you learned at CFA: Always double check that the camera plate is secure on the tripod.
What inspires you: Telling stories that are important to me and having people connect with those stories.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: Film, Seeing Eye Guy, featured at the Block Festival. Film, Grieving A Broad, showcased in Italy and the United States. Forward for the Utah Howl Women’s Ice Hockey team.
One sentence that describes your work: Rediscovering yourself is the first step to overcoming loneliness.

“During her time in the Department of Film & Media Arts, Katie has proven to be a very valuable member of this community. In class, she is always engaged and her willingness to learn is contagious; her films have a maturity level that is unseen in filmmakers of her age; and she’s always advocating for female empowering stories that reflect the different facets of the female experience. She is a strong talented young filmmaker who uses cinema to provoke positive change.”
- Sonia and Miriam Albert-Sobrino 
Assistant Professors, Department of Film & Media Arts

"Our Department is committed to empowering students to tell stories that matter to them. Katie has done just that. Her creativity, ambition, and perseverance have earned her the respect of her peers and instructors. We expect great things of her in the years ahead." 
- Andrew Patrick Nelson 
Chair, Department of Film & Media Arts 


Tony Elison SoM

Name: Tony Elison
Majors and minors: Honors BMus in Jazz Composition, minor in Computer Science
Hometown: American Fork, UT
Three words that describe you: open-minded, reflective, curious
Favorite CFA class or teacher: Jazz Composition and Arranging
Most memorable moment at CFA: premiering original works at senior recital
One thing you learned at CFA: how to network
What inspires you: real, sincere, hard-working people who love what they do
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus:

  • Learned how to learn
  • Developed a love for reading
  • Sharpened writing skills
  • Widened my musical palette
  • Established a reputation for professionalism in the SLC music community

One sentence that describes your work: It’s my hope that my work reflects authentic, musical expression, capable of moving and elevating the listener.

"I’ve known Tony as a work-study student who works at the front desk in the Music Office, and a scholarship recipient as a member of the Michie Jazz Quintet, which plays at many events on campus, including the Presidents Office. I’ve always been very impressed with his jazz piano playing and arranging. He's very unassuming, and I didn't know until recently of his impressive performance credits (including Carnegie Hall and Dizzy’s Club at Lincoln Center in New York!) or his minor in computer science. He is an Honors student with a GPA at the very top of his graduating class. Behind his unassuming manner there is a tremendously talented and intelligent jazz musician who has already reached some impressive milestones. He has a bright future ahead of him!" 
- Miguel Chuaqui
Director, School of Music 

"What makes Tony Elison a special student to me is his ability for synthesis. He can take inspiration from musical ideas, syntax, and traditions while filtering them through his own distinctive voice. I have been honored to help him achieve his goals and continue to expand his artistic horizons for the future."
- John Petrucelli
Visiting Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies, School of Music 

"Tony has the ideal demeanor for a working colleague--he is an amazing musician, always prepared, and a positive person to be around. He is already playing professionally in and around Utah."
- Donn Schaefer
Brass and Jazz Area Head & Professor of Trombone, School of Music 


Matthew Rudolph DoT

Name: Matthew Rudolph 
Majors and minors: Musical Theatre
Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Three words that describe you: Loyal, Passionate, Hard-working
Favorite CFA class or teacher: David Schmidt
Most memorable moment at CFA: Getting to perform with the cast of Bring it On! and represent the department of theatre at the opening of the Eccles theatre downtown.
One thing you learned at CFA: How incredible it is to be an artist. As artists, we have the opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level and create change within them and in the world. We have the chance to entertain those around us and make people feel something.
What inspires you: Seeing the passion other CFA students put into their craft everyday and getting to work on something that I am so passionate about fuels me with excitement to work hard and give my everything.
Summary of major accomplishments both on and off campus: SAC Representative- President, Vice-President, class representative, FAF Grant Representative, Emerging Leadership intern, cast in 7 department of theatre musicals, member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
One sentence that describes your work: I am an artist and collaborator who is passionate about creating change and allowing people the opportunity to escape reality and be entertained.

"Matthew has proved to be an outstanding student and leader within the Department of Theatre. He serves as President for the department's Student Advisory Committee (SAC). He also serves as the student representative at the College Council meetings. Besides being an excellent representative for his fellow students and the department, he is a talented performer. He has been cast in a number of department productions including, Chess, Company, Dracula and Floyd Collins. On behalf of the department and myself, we wish him the best of luck." 
- Harris Smith
Chair, Department of Theatre

"Freshman Matt Rudolph peaked his head into a rehearsal of "BRING IT ON" in August of 2016 when I had just lost the entire Cheerleading squad who had agreed to do the show….I said, “Howdy, can you tumble?” He said “sure”  …..and that is the way it has been for the last 4 years….. Matt is forever willing to give anything asked of him his best shot. Always with a smile, Matt is one of a very few students who have been cast in just about every departmental show of his college career. BRAVO MATT!" 
-Denny Berry
Musical Theatre Program Head, Department of Theatre

"I am so happy that Matthew was chosen as the outstanding student for the Department of Theatre. I have had the privilege of being involved with Mathew from the time of his audition for the department until now at his graduation. I have been his Private Applied Voice teacher for the 4 years. Matthew has an incredible work ethic, a passion for his art and the talent to make it all work. He is also a generous leader amongst his peers. I am sure he will have a brilliant future. Break legs Matthew!!" 
-David Schmidt
Associate Professor, Department of Theatre


*Look out for our feature of Alicia Ross, Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher!  And please join us tomorrow when we will hear from our two student convocation speakers, Jacob Weitlauf and Sydney May, right here on the blog.* 

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Emeri Fetzer 

Despite classes and collaborative work moving online, Jordan Boge is triumphantly reaching the finish line for his short subject documentary film, “Turtle.”

For Boge, a graduate student in the University of Utah Department of Film & Media, the project has been a main focus throughout the academic year, beginning in August with pre-planning. Boge’s team wrapped up filming for the documentary in February, right before a global pandemic changed our daily lives. “ I feel extremely fortunate because nothing of the film has been compromised,” Boge explained.

“For post-production in particular, it is entirely common to work digitally,” Boge continued. “I used to work at CNN in Atlanta, and we would regularly overnight hard drives of the physical footage to our editors in New York. It is standard in the production world to make it work remotely.”

Of course, Boge and his collaborators have missed being together to fine-tune a project in which they are all deeply invested. These shared moments are often the most enjoyable of a team’s process. But they have kept close contact over phone and video chat, finalizing color grading and score adjustments,  and have reflected together about what made the documentary unique. Pamela InterviewBehind the scenes of "Turtle" | Courtesy Jordan Boge

“Turtle” follows the daily life of Pamela Cornejo, a PhD student at the U in counseling psychology, and a close friend of Boge’s, whom he finds particularly inspiring. “I knew I wanted to make a documentary for Sonia and Miriam (Sobrino’s) class. Right before I left last summer to work for a film company in LA, I was spending time with Pamela and she shared a bit of her background and story. I spent the whole summer thinking about it.”

Cornejo is a child of Mexican immigrants and Boge wanted to make a film about who her family is and how it continually impacts who she is as a person. “I was expecting a ‘no’ from her,” Boge said. “Who agrees to have someone just make a documentary about them? I don’t think most people see the interest in their own story.” Luckily, Cornejo agreed right away and showed immense vulnerability and openness while filming.

For Boge, this was the best part. “We did an on-site interview the second day of filming, after following her at work with her middle school students. She was having a hard day and began to bare her feelings. It was a two-hour interview, but I ended up using bits of all of it for the six-minute film,” he said.

“I really wanted to make sure that the story I was telling was as true to her view as possible. She was great about recognizing that I was the filmmaker and she was holding the story. We had a great push and pull between knowing what was best for the film and what was best for her story.”

Boge collaborated with several other students in the Department of Film & Media Arts. The film’s cinematographer, JJ Houghton, is an undergraduate senior. In reflecting, Houghton pointed out that the most rewarding piece of the project was Cornejo's authenticity on and off-screen. “In the B-roll of her day to day activities, to see her interacting with the people around her as if there was no camera there -- it’s what a documentarian is always hoping for, to present an idea in the least biased way possible.”

Both Boge and Houghton shared that the mutual care shown by all of their teammates was imperative to making their project worthwhile. “It’s a unique thing as a graduate student -- this is going to be part of my thesis portfolio that I defend, so it’s not just some project for a class, it’s a means to get my degree,” Boge said. It was important to him that all involved faced the film with intention and not just like any other gig. Turtle Crew for Interview"Turtle" crew poses after wrapping an interview | Courtesy Jordan Boge

“The joy is that this piece is an expression of who I am. It’s a film made for people of color. I took care with nuance and I want those people to see it and have themselves reflected in it in some shape or form.” 

Boge is looking forward to sharing “Turtle” with the community at the first possible opportunity for a screening in the Department. Stay tuned for updates!

"Turtle" Credits: 
Director: Jordan Boge
Documentary Subject & Producer: Pamela A. Cornejo
Cinematographer: JJ Houghton
Graphic Artist: Kait E. Gollmer

Published in Finer Points Blog

Seven students from the College of Fine Arts were recently selected as Spring 2020 scholars in the University of Utah's Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP)

UROP gives undergraduate students and faculty mentors the opportunity to work together on research or creative projects. The program provides a stipend and educational programming for students who assist with a faculty member’s research or creative project or who carry out a project of their own under the supervision of a faculty member. Students may apply for UROP any semester and may be eligible for a one-semester renewal. UROP awardees are hired as temporary, part-time UROP Participants by the Office of Undergraduate Research and are paid $1,200 for 120 hours of research or creative work during the semester.

Here are CFA's Spring 2020 UROP scholars and a glimpse at what each of them are working on:

Bethany Dahlstrom, Department of Art & Art History 
Faculty mentor: Carol Sogard

Bethany is researching notable alumni that have graduated from the Graphic Design program at the University of Utah. She is in the process of designing a promotional Graphic Design Alumni book that teaches students in the program, future students and community members about the history and legacy of the Graphic Design Program, while also recognizing these notable alumni and the impacts they have made on the profession. She is also researching innovative ways to utilize Instagram as a design tool to share the content developed in the book.

Ethan Edwards, Department of Art & Art History 
Faculty mentor: Laurel Caryn

The title of Ethan’s UROP proposal is “Art’s Role in a Contemporary, Saturated Market, and a Question into the Validity of Societies Value of the Market”.  Ethan will be  questioning the validity of the gallery space as a place for art, by finding alternative spaces, trying not only to define art itself, but define its purpose and final destination.

Kaitlyn Redd, Department of Art & Art History
Faculty mentor: Justin Diggle

Katie is utilising Laser Engraver and CNC machines to explore new approaches to printmaking. She will initially be creating test images to explore the technical possibilities of the machinery before creating specific images. With the laser engraver for example, she will first screenprint multiple layers of alternating colour before engraving back into the print with particular imagery. The engraving of the image will reveal layers of colour.

Nicole Kallsen, School of Dance 

Faculty mentor: Kate Mattingly

Nicole's project is called "Seeking Common Ground: A case study of ballet's cultural values in Salt Lake City." She is researching perceptions of ballet in Salt Lake City by analyzing three organizations: Ballet West, Ballet West Academy, and the University of Utah Ballet Program. For each organization, Nicole will assess their social and financial support with special attention to the demographics of people who participate in the production and presentation of performances.

Jacob Young, School of Music

Faculty mentor: Jared Rawlings

Jacob is exploring peer group effects of relational victimization and empowerment among high school instrumental music students. He utilized social network analysis and found that participation in a school-based marching band significantly impacts feelings of empowerment reducing self-reported relational victimization, even after controlling for gender, caring behaviors, and positive attitudes toward bullying.

Kimberly Brown, Department of Theatre
Faculty mentor: Rob Scott Smith

In Kimberly's own words: "I am on a quest to create a piece of theatre that examines and exposes our society's relationship with mental health, more specifically to personal identities in our youth in relation to the older generations and the world around us. I want to study mental health, gender, and social issues through the lenses of famous literary figures from Shakespeare’s works. This play will use iconic characters and humorous circumstances to expose and explore deeper issues that some might not be able to do with research papers, classes, and studies."

Courtney Cohen, Department of Theatre
Faculty mentor: Andra Harbold  

Courtney is conducting interviews and pursuing qualitative research into three thematic threads of "Spitfire Grill:" towns with economies whose primary livelihoods are failing, Vietnam veterans returning home after the war, and sexual assault survivors.

Click here for more information on upcoming UROP applications! The next deadline is Friday, March 20th for students interested in working during Summer 2020. 

Published in Finer Points Blog

The Film and Media Arts Department is excited to welcome experimental and documentary filmmaker Emelie Mahdavian, Post Doctoral Fellow and producer-in-residence. Mahdavian’s most recent film, “Midnight Traveler,” has received critical acclaim including a 2019 Gotham Award Nomination for Best Documentary and Special Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival. While at the University of Utah, she is in production on a new documentary feature “Bitterbrush.” 

Mahdavian studied filmmaking at London Film School, music and philosophy at Mills College and New England Conservatory of Music, and has a Ph.D. in Performance Studies with an emphasis in Film Practice as Research from the University of California, Davis.

The reciprocal relationship of research and creative decision making is one she continues to examine closely with University of Utah students in her special topics seminar course this semester, Approaching the Subject of Documentary. “I’m interested in theory informing practice and practice informing theory,” Mahdavian explained.

If students want to become experts at software (Premiere, for example), they can get training online.  What their undergraduate study perhaps offers is a deeper inquiry into what drives their creative choices, from filming to post-production. Particularly in documentary filmmaking, ethics and relationship building are integral to practice and product. Mahdavian is particularly interested in preparing students in these areas.

There is also quite a bit to explore in terms of practical knowledge of film distribution, which is a constantly evolving environment. “You can go away to work on a film for a few months and when you return, the market can be completely different.” Mahdavian said. From live screening to streaming platforms, Mahdavian is helping prepare students for the business of film alongside developing strong artistic practice.

When asked what makes her unique as an editor, the continual influence from multidisciplinary interests is one characteristic she can pinpoint. “ I am a musician and dancer -- that perspective is tied to everything I do,” she said.

Pursuing an ongoing interest in Central Asian dance, Mahdavian was a former principal dancer and Assistant Director for Ballet Afsaneh. Her film “After the Curtain,”  documented the cultural experiences of dancers in Tajikistan. In "Intangible Body,” she used motion capture to explore censorship of Iranian women's dance performance. This experience across artistic mediums makes Mahdavian an invaluable resource not only for the Film and Media Arts Department but also for students studying Screendance.

Mahdavian will continue teaches courses throughout the spring semester.  Join us in welcoming her to campus!   

Published in Finer Points Blog

MAKING ART WORK is a series that taps into the knowledge and experience of seasoned creatives from our community and beyond for the benefit of our students. 

Matthew Pothier is a Los Angeles based freelance cinematographer and photographer, and alumnus of the Film & Media Arts Department at the University of Utah. Matthew was the Director of Photography for "sometimes, I think About dying," a selected Sundance Film Festival short film in 2019.  His cinematography work includes  "Back to Life: The Torin Yater-Wallace Story," which can be seen on Amazon Prime Video and "of_Angels," a short film that premiered at the LA Shorts Fest, an international Oscar qualifying festival. Pothier's acclaimed commercial work represents brands including REI, Nike, Oakley, Intel, Skullcandy, Sierra Nevada and Lululemon. His still photography has been featured on Ignant and c41 magazine

What classes or people from the Film Department at the U best prepared you for your career?

The class that best prepared me for a career as a cinematographer would unsurprisingly be the "cinematography" class. It was my first couple of goes at shooting 16mm film and trying to figure out how lighting worked. It gave me a chance to shoot some truly awful images and then project them in front of a class. Not only did this motivate me to make less embarrassingly bad images, it also was an environment where it was okay to experiment and make mistakes along with a group of other passionate filmmakers who all worked together to correct our flaws and grow as a group.

Now 16mm film is cool again and I shoot it all the time!

What is the most challenging practical part of working in film? 

Most definitely, for me at least, would be time management. It can be hard to find a solid work/life balance. For a while I was either working 90+ hour weeks, or not working for a month. I finally feel like I have a good balance but it took years to get there. The hardest part isn’t the 90+hour work weeks, it’s the downtime. It’s crucial for me to stay creative in those slow times and use them to my advantage, I like to make sure as much of my downtime is used soaking up any bit of culture and art that I can in order pull from it when I am in work mode.

Equipment or tool that you can’t live without?   

My stills camera. It’s always on me and I am always using it to stay creative. While on set it’s always changing, but probably an easyrig.  Got to protect my back if I want to keep working until I am older.

As a freelancer, what do you do to keep work flowing in? 

A couple of things, it’s largely a word of mouth business, so I. am constantly trying to surround myself with the people I would like to collaborate with. Definitely have a ton of lunches with people, I would say that is the main benefit to living somewhere like LA, it’s so easy to just grab coffee with a director or producer. I also have an agent but it’s a bit of a catch 22 -- you are not going to get an agent until you have work coming in already. Most importantly I just try to stay true to the work I like to do and hope people respond to it.

Favorite filmmakers? Artists who influence your work?

There are so many. Wim Wenders, Robert Eggers, Tarkovsky, Kubrik, Paul Thomas Anderson, Bradford Young, Alec Soth, Bryan Schutmaat and 1,000 others.

But mostly I try to be influenced by the people around me. I think peoples’ work tends to reflect, no matter how hard you try, the stuff you admire.

My thought is if you can admire the peoples’ work around you rather then what’s popular you can hopefully create a style that develops in the little subset of culture you exists in and in turn ideally it is a more authentic aesthetic that reflects your specific life experience, rather than a reflection of popular culture.

What would you say to undergraduate you? 

Watch more movies and get as involved as possible with the Utah film community. For a smaller city, Salt Lake is really impressive in the scale of the film industry.  

"sometimes, i think about dying" 

Directed by: Stefanie Abel Horowitz
Starring: Katy Wright-Mead, Jim Sarbh
Screenplay by: Stefanie Abel Horowitz & Katy Wright-Mead and Kevin Armento
Based on the play killers by: Kevin Armento
Director of Photography: Matthew Pothier
Edited by: Stephanie Kaznocha
Producers: Stefanie Abel Horowitz, Katy Wright-Mead
Executive Producers: Patrick James Lunch, Ryan Gielen

Published in Finer Points Blog

By Molly Powers

Sunday, September 22nd the Department of Film & Media Arts will present the 9th annual F&MAD Film Festival, a public screening of student works from undergraduate and graduate film students at the U. Held each year at the charming Tower Theatre in 9th and 9th, F&MAD Fest is a presentation of top-tier student films from the previous academic year. “F&MAD is a celebration of our students’ achievements, and an important, public showcase of the depth and breadth of their talents and interests." Says Andrew Nelson, Chair of the Department. Show up ready to experience an incredible range of genres like experimental, documentary, narrative, animated, screendance, and beyond. 

Each short film submission is under 25 minutes long, allowing the program to include around 10 films per festival. For student film makers, F&MAD Fest is an opportunity to show off their hard work among a community of film-lovers, and to compete for the title of “Best of Fest.” The audience awards voting is one of the most exciting aspects of the festival and allows the crowd to vote for their favorite film of the evening.  

Student Film Submissions are anonymously screened by a jury who casts the deciding votes on which films will make it to the big screen at the Tower. This year we have ten incredible films in the lineup: 


Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy handpicked student films and help decide which film will be Best of Fest 2019!

Admission to F&MAD Fest is free to the Public Sunday, September 22 at 7 PM
The Tower Theater – 876 E 900 S 

Published in Finer Points Blog

by Merritt Mecham

Ana Breton and Victoria Elena Nones didn’t know each other while they were students at the U, but they moved in the same circles. “It was meant to be that eventually we would cross paths,” says Nones. “We probably did cross paths multiple times on campus and didn’t even know.” Both University of Utah alums, Breton graduated in 2009 with a double major in Journalism and Film & Media Arts, and Nones graduated in 2011 with a BFA in Stage Management and a minor in Gender Studies.Run Ana HeadshotAna Breton. Photo by Marissa Kohn Photography.

Now, Nones is a comedian, entrepreneur, and founder of the nonprofit Women in Comedy and Satira Comedy. Breton is a twice-Emmy nominated director and producer currently at "Full Frontal with Samantha Bee." As U alumni, women in comedy, and Latinas, Nones and Breton’s collaboration came naturally. They’ve teamed together to make a new reality docuseries called "Run," where “five female political experts from across the nation empower scrappy, novice, passionate female candidates running for office.”

Before they created the show, Breton and Nones prepared for their careers by getting degrees at the University of Utah. Their time as students directed the course of their careers, and by being actively involved in the U community, both women were uniquely qualified to produce "Run" years later.

Nones’ interest in women’s issues began when she took a class from Professor Katharine Coles in the Gender Studies department. The course opened her eyes to gender inequality. “I really had no idea how bad things were. I had an inkling… but that course inspired me to continue taking classes.” Breton also had a class that changed the course of her career: the Sundance Film Festival class, taught by Professor Brian Patrick. “That class pretty much changed the directive of my life,” she says. “I loved being around people who were making movies and being creative.”

Beyond classes, both Nones and Breton’s most pivotal experiences at the U came from mentoring and community involvement. “One of the most imperative experiences I had at the U was being involved in the student government,” says Nones. “That opened a lot of opportunities and doors for me.” Nones served as the special events chair for ASUU, where running events and managing budgets gave her experience directly related to becoming a producer and entrepreneur. She is grateful that her mentors so often said “yes,” opening the doors for her to plan events like a screening of Miss Representation and a visit from the Second City touring company—events which led to networking opportunities that have shaped her career. “If you connect the dots backward, it all started at the university.”

Breton's formative project at school was filming a short documentary which followed a homeless family. The experience of pitching, getting feedback on her film, and eventually screening the film, was formative. Generally, Breton said she loved spending time filmmaking both in and outside of class. “I knew it’d be long days, it’d be chaos, it’d be creative, and I loved it. That was when I [realized] this was exactly what I wanted to be doing.” Immediately after graduating, Breton interned with a production company in Salt Lake City, an experience which she says would not have happened if she hadn’t seen the posting on the Film & Media Arts bulletin board.

And while they both acknowledge that, in the age of internet, it’s easy to become self-taught, both women value their formal education. Run Victoria HeadshotVictoria Elena Nones. Photo by Gregory Rothstein at @tagprints“There’s a big difference being in a classroom setting, where you have accountability… [and] being with a community of your peers, where you’re learning and growing together and making those friendships and connections,” says Nones. Breton agrees. “For me, it was incredible experience to just play with creativity on a daily basis and learn how to amplify your creative voice with tools.”

Now they’re using their skills to produce "Run." The show was first conceptualized by Nones and fellow producer Genevieve Thiers, and they soon brought Breton on to discuss filming. Nones said the project moved quickly: “We just went for it because we’re all executors and doers.” Nones counts her entrepreneurial spirit as one of the reasons she’s succeeded in her career, and advises students to work on their own projects even when they don’t land a dream job after graduation. “These days, the industry is looking for entrepreneurial artists. When a company or network wants to pick up a film… they’re looking for somebody who has already achieved something great on their own, because that gives the company proof that you’re going to be reliable, you’re going to be hardworking, you know how to take initiative.” Because of the initiative Nones and Breton took, "Run" went from dream to reality in less than a year.

Of course, this meant that Nones and Breton had to work hard, and take on multiple roles. In addition to producing, Nones was responsible for casting and is one of the show’s experts, and Breton directed the pilot and hired the crew. Given her diverse experience in film prior to "Run," Breton felt prepared to take on other roles, and says that it’s good for students entering the film industry to be flexible. “I think people graduate with the idea that they’re going to do one job for the rest of their lives, or one career. A lot of times that’s not the case,” she says. “So, try things out! For a film, do audio, or be a writer. Just bounce around to see what’s out there, and don’t be discouraged if the career you wanted is not working out—because there’s plenty out there that you could be trying out and maybe succeeding at.”

Run Behind The Scenes Bushra Amiwala by TagprintsBehind The Scenes of Run, featuring candidate Bushra Amiwala. Photo by @tagprints.While doing research for "Run," Breton found that there weren’t other reality shows that chose to empower and uplift women in the way her team wanted. “They all focus on women tearing each other down or fighting over a man or having a makeover where they go from ugly to pretty. I had the freedom to say ‘This is not what I want 'Run' to be.’” It was important to both women that they created a show that was welcoming and uplifting. While hiring the crew, Breton was sure to hire women and people of color. “I have found that you have to become the foot that opens the door for other people,” she says. “I knew that I wanted to hire women and people of color, and I was able to do that. And it’s really easy! People just need to do it.” This attitude carried over into the casting of the candidate they feature in the pilot episode, Bushra Amiwala, a woman whose campaign they believed in. “It was a really special thing to be part of a show that is empowering a candidate on and off camera.”

From the U through their own careers to producing their own show, Nones and Breton are excited to see where "Run" takes them next. “We are chipping away at the media landscape by making a positive show about women,” says Breton. “I’m so proud of that.”

Watch the "Run" trailer here.

You can follow Run at runtheseries.com or on social media @runtheseries.


Published in Finer Points Blog

Join the Film & Media Arts Department for a free screening of handpicked student films, filmmaker Q&As, panel discussions, displays of amazing media arts projects, installations, animations, experimental films, a poster design contest and more! Awards to exceptional student works will be given out by a distinguished jury of film professionals, along with the coveted Audience Award, given to the project declared “Best in Show.” This year, the winners will be awarded some amazing new awards:

Festival Distribution Award: Three of the filmmakers screening work in the F&MAD Spring Showcase will receive a $400 prize towards film festival submissions. The lucky winners will be able to use that money to submit their shorts in the film festivals of their choice. With submission fees averaging $50 per category, students receiving this award would be able to submit their projects to at least 8 festivals! 

2019 JUDGESThe Showcase jurors selected each film being screened and are also tasked with choosing the winning film in each category. We’ve gathered an impressive panel of judges who will be deciding, not only the award winners for this year’s edition, including the Festival Distribution Prizes, but also what films will be shown during the event.Our panel includes, award-winning filmmakers Alvaro Gago, Gianluca Sodaro and Candida Durán. Álvaro’s shortfilm “Matria” won best Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film in 2018; Gianluca Sodaro is an award-winning filmmaker and long time collaborator of David Lynch’s composer Angelo Badalamenti; and Candida Durán, an Emmy Award winner documentary filmmaker living in West Valley City and former Film & Media Arts Student. 

Álvaro Gago studies audiovisual communication and music in Galicia, theatre in Chicago and filmmaking at the London Film School where he graduates in 2013 with the film "Curricán", which picked up Best Director at Curtocircuito and Best Film at Cans Film Festival. In London, he establishes himself as a film editor, founds the Galician Film Forum and teaches film at the Young For Film School.

His latest short film "Matria" won the 2018 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and was a 2019 Goya nominee. Xacio Baño’s first feature film "Trote", which he edited, had its world premiere at the 2018 Locarno Film Festival and premiere nationally at the 2018 San Sebastián Film Festival. He also edited Marcos Merino’s second feature film "In Memoriam", which premiere at the 2018 Seville European Film Festival picking up "Best Spanish Film" within the New Waves Non-Fiction category. Currently he is developing his first feature film script as well as entering the postproduction of his next short film "16th of December."

Gianluca Sodaro was born in Sicily on Christmas Eve. He is a graduate of Milan’s Academy of Fine Arts and Design (NABA). In 2012, he comes into contact with the American music composer Angelo Badalamenti (he's best known for his work scoring films for director David Lynch). Gianluca has just finished to write the script of "God's Got His Head in the Clouds" and proposes to Badalamenti the idea of making music for it. The American composer accepts immediately and with great enthusiasm. Badalamenti declares: "Gianluca Sodaro has created a marvelous vignette of a film which cleverly poses a simple spiritual question. A duel of sorts commences between a priest and a little girl, as she brings a grievance before him. Their exchange is wonderfully thought-provoking, comical, and slightly absurd in its premise. I must've watched it five times before I finally took a seat at the piano. Bravo!”

In 2018 Gianluca makes his first “American” short film in English language with the actor Robert Davi ("The Goonies") and Angelo Badalamenti as composer. Now he’s completing short film and the British Oscar winner Rachel Portman ("Chocolat," "The Cider House Rules," "Emma," "Oliver Twist," etc) has composed the original music. Gianluca adores the sound of cicadas.

Candida Duran Taveras is a documentary filmmaker living in West Valley City, UT. She received a BA in Film & Media Arts from the University of Utah and has won numerous awards for her documentary work including a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award in 2012. After a small hiatus, Candida has return to the world of film and is focusing on creating short documentaries and documenting birth stories.

The Spring Showcase is May 4th at 5pm | in the FMAB Auditorium
Free and open to the public

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Film and Media Arts faculty member Lynne Van Dam presents her most recent film, Drury Lane on campus December 1st! This feature length murder mystery will be screened at the Post Theatre at 7pm and is free and open to the public. 

About the film:
A private eye on a routine case discovers there is a much deeper evil lurking below the surface. Former maverick cop Frankie O'Malley finds one of her street informants dead on a park bench, being investigated by the man who moved out of her life, and into her job. Frankie is pulled inexorably into the case as she discovers the connection between her routine case and the deaths of her street informants. As the threads of the mystery evolve, her father becomes entwined. She reconnects with her former partner, but finds that her past holds the key to uncovering the truth.

December 1, 7P
The Post Theater
245 Fort Douglas Blvd,
Salt Lake City, UT 84113

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The University of Utah College of Fine Arts is thrilled to have three faculty members presenting at the National Communication Association’s 104th annual conference this November. Sarah E. S. Sinwell, Ph.D faculty member in the Department of Film & Media Arts, Kate Mattingly, Phd and Molly Heller, MFA, both faculty members in the School of Dance, are representatives of the groundbreaking creative and scholarly research currently being conducted in the CFA.

The National Communication Association (NCA) advances communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry. NCA serves the scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems.

“The CFA's faculty and graduate students are actively creating new knowledge and disseminating timely, relevant, and innovative research far and wide,” said Melonie B. Murray, Ph.D., the CFA’s Associate Dean for Faculty & Academic Affairs. “The fact that more than one discipline from the CFA will be represented (Film & Media Arts and Dance) at the upcoming National Communication Association conference reflects the range and impact of our college's research.”

Sinwell’s presentation title is: To Queer Things Up: Sexing the Self in the Queer Documentary Web Series. Sinwell addresses the ways in which queer documentary web series such as Losing It With John Stamos, To Queer Things Up, and The Peculiar Kind construct confession as queer by mapping it onto ideas of celebrity, intersectionality, and political activism. In an effort to utilize “third and fourth screen” practices, these web series attempt to reach a new audience, viewers who watch videos on their laptops, tablets and cell phones. Appearing on sites such as Yahoo Screen, YouTube, and Vimeo, these series reimagine new ways of telling stories about sex, desire and the body by questioning the relationships between the verbal, the visual and the confessional. Investigating terms such as queer, gay, lesbian, androgynous, transgender, monogamous, etc., these web series also explore how ideas of celebrity, intersectionality, and advocacy are tied in with understandings of queer sexuality. Sinwell’s focus is on how queer documentary web series reimagine the relationships between sexuality, the self, the other, and the camera as a means of further exploring the construction of queer sexual confessions in contemporary media culture.

As new faculty members in the School of Dance, Molly Heller and Dr. Kate Mattingly applied to present their research at the NCA’s 104th annual convention because it’s a place where they can engage with scholars across the disciplines and across the country. Since the theme of this convention is “Communication at Play,” they plan to both present research on dance as embodied play and also engage in a playful dialogue about their different perspectives and their intersections.

Their panel, made in collaboration with Michelle LaVigne, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Language at the University of San Francisco, is entitled "Playing with/while/within Dancing: Communicating for/with/about Dance." Molly Heller, an Assistant Professor and interdisciplinary artist, creates performances that highlight the emotional and narrative elements of embodied play. In her presentation, Heller will explain the choreographic processes that enable her performers to access modes of being that reveal inner landscapes. Kate Mattingly, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor, will present part of her current book project that traces how dance critics and historians have attempted to transfer dance’s sensorial engagement into linguistic interpretations, and what this transfer does to dance as embodied play. Together with LaVigne, Heller and Mattingly will explore how writing for/with/about dance is a kind of play that can happen between dancers, writers, and choreographers.

Panels take place 11/8 at 8A and 11/10 at 9:30A in the Salt Palace in the Salt Palace Convention Center. For more information please visit here.

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