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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    I dream in widescreen

    Media Arts seniors Joseph Toretti and Patrick ORourke polish the final sound mixes to their senior thesis films in the Marshall Building on Saturday afternoon. The student films from the Media Arts Bachelor of Fine Arts program will be screening on Friday at the Tucson Convention Center.
    Media Arts seniors Joseph Toretti and Patrick O’Rourke polish the final sound mixes to their senior thesis films in the Marshall Building on Saturday afternoon. The student films from the Media Arts Bachelor of Fine Arts program will be screening on Friday at the Tucson Convention Center.

    The end of this semester will usher in a fond farewell to countless talented UA artists, but one section of students that often goes overlooked is the group of student filmmakers who will be exiting the competitive Media Arts Bachelor of Fine Arts program. This year’s graduating class of BFA seniors will take their final bow on May 15 at downtown’s Tucson Music Hall during a yearly event called “”I Dream in Widescreen,”” a free public screening showcasing fifteen thesis films that represent the culmination of everything these aspiring artists have learned over the past four years.

    Lisanne Skyler of the media arts department said of this class’s thesis projects: “”This year I’ve been struck by the amazing range of films … and the level of commitment and inventiveness.””

    This year Skyler is teaching the M AR 498D/E senior capstone class for the fourth consecutive year, as well as M AR 210, Intro to Production Practices. Skyler’s preceptors for 210, Joe Toretti and Patrick O’Rourke, are among the graduating BFA seniors who will be exhibiting their final projects at the event. Speaking about the range and diversity of this year’s films, Toretti said, “”We’ve got assassins, we’ve got dragons … we’ve got kids that are trying to commit suicide but time travelers with a musical edge stop them from doing so … a kid with a squirt gun that blasts his enemy into outer space … a crazy artistic film … crazy music videos, commercials … mysteries, murders, thrillers, we got everything – we have Ron fucking Jeremy!””

    The filmmakers confirmed that it is indeed the real Ron Jeremy, porno actor of legend, appearing as a doctor/fellatio advocate in senior Antonio Baca’s film “”It’s American!””

    After this final screening, the seniors will be parting ways in pursuit of their dream careers in the media. Some students have landed positions at some of the country’s top media arts graduate schools – BFA senior Will Goldstein, for example, will be going for his Master of Fine Arts in directing at USC’s film school – but many of the seniors are prolonging entry into the notoriously competitive field while they dedicate themselves entirely to their BFA projects. “”With the economy the way it is right now, there’s, like, no jobs,”” Toretti said. “”A lot of people right now are trying to go to grad school … especially arts, because you can’t really join a company right now because everyone’s laying people off. So we’re kind of screwed. We’re all just kind of in limbo right now.””

    Added O’Rourke, “”It’s been a stressful year. When (people) give me a hard time about what I’m going to do after I graduate I just say, ‘I’m trying to finish my film now, leave me alone.’ I think everyone’s plan is to go where they had their internship last summer – either go to New York or go to LA … get an internship or an apprenticeship, really find their niche, and get into the workforce that they want to be in any way possible.””

    The seniors have devoted themselves wholly to media arts during their stay here at the UA, taking courses that specialize in every aspect of the industry. Said Skyler, “”They’ve taken cinematography, they’ve taken documentary, experimental film, and now this (BFA thesis) is the film they’re pouring all their energy into. It’s very much the culmination of their time here.””

    For Toretti and O’Rourke, this culminating project has been one of epic scale and effort. O’Rourke’s film, “”Holiday Justice,”” faced delays in the development stage, but after a hectic week of chilly, cold nights filming in the woods in Flagstaff, it finally came together. “”(‘Holiday Justice’ is) about an assassin who, go figure, wants to leave the business because he starts to learn he has a heart … We shot (part of it) at King’s animal ranch in the middle of the desert on a freezing cold night, and forgot that it would be windy in the desert, so that was horrible – but it looks amazing.””

    Toretti’s film, “”The Wind and Hills,”” is one that Skyler refers to as “”atypical in scale.”” The film, a fantasy epic about two men on a quest to slay a dragon, was shot on location in Pennsylvania where Toretti grew up, but crew members flew in for the production from as far as New York, Los Angeles and even London. Commenting on the scale of his project, Toretti revealed “”We got this guy in New York to build this dragon puppet, and it’s a huge puppet – you can actually get in its mouth.””

    O’Rourke, who is editing Toretti’s film for the screening and was present for its production, commented on the experience. “”I was dead tired every single morning,”” O’Rourke said. “”It was like a 7 a.m. wake-up call, you know – ‘Crap, screw this, this sucks’ – but at the end of the day you’re like, ‘That was awesome, we got some great footage’ … this is why I love film and want to be in the film industry, because as shitty as it was and as tired as I (was), I (couldn’t) wait to come back and do it the next day.””

    The clock keeps ticking as the BFA seniors work frantically to complete the films that they have invested so much time, money and emotion into crafting. Some look back on this year with nostalgia, others with immense gratitude. With the fated “”I Dream In Widescreen”” screening next Friday, Toretti ultimately reflects, “”The films are great, but I’m just gonna be getting drunk the whole time. I can’t wait for the Q and A afterwards.””

    “”I Dream in Widescreen”” Senior BFA screening will be held at Tucson Music Hall on May 15. 6 p.m. doors, 7:30 p.m. screening. The event is free and open to the public, and alcohol will be available for purchase.

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