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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA filmmaker moves on up after graduation

    UA filmmaker moves on up after graduation

    Despite all of their teachings, students often forge their own path to find success, independent of the hardships or shortcomings they may face. Abe Zverow, a recent UA alumnus and a participant in this year’s “I Dream In Widescreen” BFA showcase, took the path less traveled with his self-produced, written and directed documentary “Jonathan” which was chosen to be showcased at the Palm Springs International ShortFest.

    The film is an 8-minute documentary that covers a day in the life of a 12-year-old Ecuadorian boy who spends the entirety of his waking hours either working in his neighborhood market or at school.

    It’s a telling glimpse into the way of life that children in Ecuador face, as Jonathan gets up at 4 a.m. to work alongside his mother and then attends school from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., often all while taking care of the duties of being the man of the house as his father is not part of his family’s life.

    Zverow didn’t find his calling from the silver screen, but rather in producing skate videos, which fed into his interest in film production.

    “Through high school it was skate videos and a couple music videos, and I didn’t know what I was doing. I got Final Cut and it just took off from there,” Zverow said, citing the premier Apple editing program as his technical push into filmmaking.

    Much like the skate videos he has created, Zverow’s process for “Jonathan” was developed in a singular approach in which he manned the camera, edited clips and tracked audio on his own. Armed with just a DSLR camera and a single shotgun mic, Zverow followed a local guide into the market to capture Jonathan’s story.

    Gaining intimate access into the local culture was difficult, but even studying abroad was a challenge in itself.

    “I always wanted to study abroad, but being in the BFA program didn’t allow that because the track is pretty stringent and there’s only 18 of us,” Zverow said. “Because it’s pretty close-knit, the four main faculty members signed off and said I could go abroad. I didn’t even know where I was going.”

    Zverow then found himself in Ecuador, using his film experience to produce local promotional videos, which led him to the market where he would meet Jonathan. Upon building community ties, Zverow was allowed an “all-access pass” to community culture, allowing for the personal angle of his documentary.

    “I helped this local guy shoot his own project and he was pretty much my security in the market, so in return he had my back,” Zverow said. “I couldn’t just show up with a camera, I would have gotten robbed. I didn’t have the access at all [on my own].”

    Children like Jonathan burn both ends of the candle in a way that’s nothing but foreign to most Americans. While Ecuadorian life may seem arduous, Zverow set out to paint a different picture while becoming acquainted with his subject.

    “I had almost studied education, so I’m definitely all about kids,” he said. “I thought would be really interesting — a glimpse into Ecuador that people don’t normally get to see, through this kid’s work day.”

    Critical reception to “Jonathan” has gotten Zverow to the next step in his filmmaking career. Panel members from the “I Dream In Widescreen” showcase offered Zverow the opportunity to show “Jonathan” at the Palm Springs festival. The festival itself is an industry standard in documentary filmmaking that’s also an Academy Award qualifying event.

    Documentary work seems to be Zverow’s calling, as he doesn’t necessarily foresee himself moving to Los Angeles and pursuing fiction film work, but instead heading back to Ecuador to shed light on the culture that embraced him. Even if he’s working alone, in a far from typical fashion, “Jonathan” proves that Zverow is more than capable of telling a story in his own right, no matter the approach he takes.

    “On one hand it was cool to have [“Jonathan”] be my brainchild, but on many other hands we’re so used to being so collaborative, you just have a whole crew and it’s very effective,” he said. “I wanted to explore a different route.”

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