Whittier College rolls out the red carpet for annual film festival

Mayo 15, 2024

A still from the movie "Unseen Wounds." | Courtesy David GuriaHollywood came to campus this month for Whittier’s annual student film festival, with all of its glitz and glam.

Bright spotlights, fresh popcorn, stylized movie posters, and a new projector transformed Ruth B. Shannon Center’s Robinson Theatre into a cinematic destination. The venue screened 21 short films spanning multiple genres — comedy, drama, Western, animation, horror, and fantasy — made by Associate Professor Patti McCarthy’s film students in one semester.

The students had access to professional equipment and software, and their hard work culminated in the opportunity to show off their creations to an audience of peers as well as pros in the movie industry.

“I think our students are like artistic midwives who give birth to new ideas,” McCarthy said. “They have the capacity to change the world with their art. They did a fabulous job, and I couldn't be more proud of them or their work, or how they really stretched themselves artistically.”

Students not only directed their own films, but lent a hand as crewmembers for their classmate’s projects to get a taste for the various roles required to make a movie. There was also interdisciplinary collaboration with films starring Whittier’s theater students.

Nathan Carrasco stands next to a poster for his comedy Adam’s Choice. | Brandy Vargas/Whittier CollegeFor the comedy Adam’s Choice, rising third-year Nathan Carrasco gave his actors a tremendous amount of freedom. The film major from Pico Rivera was inspired by shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm to make an improvisational comedy with a loose script.

Carrasco wanted it to be relatable, so he told the story of a film student trying to make a short film for class.

“People were saying that it was quality work, and I was really trying to make it feel like something you’d see on TV,” Carrasco said.

Representation was also important for David Guria and his drama Unseen Wounds.

A rising fourth-year from Norwalk, Guria is a nontraditional student who served in the Army as a tank commander in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kuwait. He is majoring in theater and political science but took this class to see what it is like to work behind the camera.

McCarthy encouraged students to amplify their own voices, and Guria made Unseen Wounds to put soldiers like himself on screen. The short is about a Black veteran assimilating back into society after war, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other issues.

The audience reception was positive, and now Guria wants to make more films over the summer.

“This whole experience gave me the opportunity to step into a new realm of great creativity and bring other people along with me,” Guria said.

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