Students Network at Sundance and ASC Open House

by Alfredo Martinez and Amanda Egerer

JPCatholic students and almuni attended Sundance Film Festival and the annual American Society of Cinematographers Open House Event to network with those who work in the media world.

Four students from JP Catholic’s MBA Film program, Gabe Moore, JJ Schindler, Vince Salerno, and Mary Pelchat, attended the Sundance Film Festival. They were provided tickets through the Windrider Institute, a Christian group which supports Christians in the film industry, particularly students. Professor Tom Dunn, Chair of the Communication Media program at JP Catholic University, was particular about which students would attend. “Since this was JP Catholic’s first year attending, we weren’t sure what to expect. We wanted to make sure the students got the most out of the workshop, but could also contribute strongly to the event. With this parameter in mind, we chose 4 students who had completed their undergraduate degrees here at JP Catholic.” Because these students have been fully immersed in JP Catholic’s curriculum and mission, Professor Dunn knew “they [the students chosen] already had a strong background in story and in discussions.” Dunn expressed interest in expanding the number of students attending the festival next year.

On the topic of the Sundance Film Festival, Professor Tom Dunn stated that not all of the filmmakers at Sundance are new to the industry. He said, “Many have been making independent, low budget films for many years.” He added that having a film accepted to the festival is a “great way to get your name out and to have some of the most important people in the industry see your work. For those who do not have a film in the festival, attending is a great way to get exposure to one of the top film festivals, the atmosphere around it, and to witness one of the ways for a young filmmaker to get to the next level.”

The JPCatholic students had the opportunity “to speak to many filmmakers behind some of Sundance’s best films and talk about the implementation of faith in film,” said Vince Salerno. He added, “The whole experience taught me a lot about film and that it’s a hard process but definitely possible for anyone to submit to Sundance.” Mary Pelchat was particularly struck by the dedication and passion in the films. “The best panel was probably for the film Burden. The director and producer were there… The director had been working on the movie for 20 years. It was their passion project, and he was willing to wait, and push for it for years.” She continued, “The stories at Sundance, are personal stories. They say ‘to make is what you know,’ and that is absolutely true. Talent may get you noticed, but it’s talent and diligence that will keep you going.”

JJ Schindler

Vince Salerno 2
Vince Salerno and Mary Pelchat

JPCatholic Alumni Andrew Carlisi and Susana “Susie” Dueñas, undergrad student Elizabeth Vrklan, as well as MBA students Mary Pelchat and Gabe Moore, all attended the annually held ASC Open House Event on February 10th. Held on the grounds of the historic ASC Clubhouse, “People of all areas in film come together to celebrate the achievements of DPs and cinematographers who have excelled in their field of work,” said Susie. It is the custom of the Society to honor its members in an annual awards ceremony and among the special guests at the Open House was Russel Carpenter, ASC. (DP on Titanic, Ant-Man, etc.), who was honored the following Saturday with the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award.

Susie shares, “I got to meet and talk with several ASC members and renowned DPs… I also got the chance to connect with countless people who are currently working in the industry with whom I’ve been keeping in contact with over these last couple of weeks.” At events like these, the Society offers an opportunity to discuss a wide range of matters with real professionals who are eager to pass on their wisdom to the next generation of filmmakers. “I got to ask Larry Fong about his working with Green Screen, meet the head of sales for ARRI, have some real talk with Russel Carpenter about how to stay grounded in the industry, and talk with Rachel Morrison about how she feels being the first woman in history to be nominated for an Academy Award in Cinematography,” recounted Susie.

“I would recommend that any student who is interested in learning more about the industry and meeting industry professionals should attend [ASC Open House]. It doesn’t matter what area of film you are interested in,” Susie concluded.