UCLA Spotlight


Festival 2003 Student Films

  • Published Jun 1, 2003 8:00 AM

n the popular imagination, making a student film is a lot like having a party. The director picks up a camera, collects some friends and refreshments, heads out to the park or beach and starts shooting. Maybe they finish in an afternoon, or maybe they devote a whole weekend.

And maybe students somewhere do make films using the home movie method. But at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, a film is much more likely to involve careful planning, sustained effort and determination.

Consider the case of Ham Tran. His thesis film, The Anniversary, runs a full 28 minutes and was shot in 35mm on location in Vietnam. Behind the camera was veteran cinematographer Guillermo Rosas.

The involvement of Rosas demonstrates Tran’s determination. Last year, Rosas and director Julian Schnable, who worked together on Before Night Falls, visited UCLA to teach a master class. Tran introduced himself, and asked Rosas about shooting The Anniversary. But it took months of persistent phone calls, and a careful read of the impressive script, before Rosas committed. Then Tran had to build his production schedule around the times Rosas was available.

Tran summarizes the story of The Anniversary in a single sentence: “A Buddhist monk is haunted by his memories of war and betrayal on the anniversary of his brother's death.” It’s a story that is finding an audience. The film was named Grand Prize winner at the USA Film Festival, and it screened at New York’s Tribeca Festival, as well – to sold-out houses. Los Angeles filmgoers will get their opportunity to see Tran’s film during Festival 2003, the annual showcase of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.