Hard acts to follow
UA filmmakers will showcase work on big screen in their own backyard
Young filmmakers Jason Sikorsky, Keith Wagner and Dae Hyun Song have learned that it’s not the story you have to tell, but how you tell it. With stories that are both interconnected and distinctly unique, the three UA film students will showcase their work at this year’s ninth annual Tucson Film and Music Festival.
The festival, which aims to spotlight the work of local filmmakers and artists, will kick off Friday and is scheduled to run through Sunday.
Sikorsky, a May 2013 UA film and television graduate, volunteered at the festival two years ago and noticed that the music video screenings garnered the biggest audiences.
“I realized I was very passionate about music videos,” Sikorsky said. “Ever since I was a kid, I’d always watch music videos, and I was like, ‘Hey, why don’t I just shoot a music video?’”
Savannah Douglas/ The Daily Wildcat Jason Sikorsky (left), BFA Production 2013 graduate, Keith Wagner (center), BFA Production senior, Dae Hyun Song (right), BFA Production senior. All three have films, ranging from documentary to music video, screening at this weekend's Tucson Film and Music Festival.
The festival will present Sikorsky’s music video for “Taste of Disarray,” a song by Hawaiian alternative rock band Ignite the Red, which has opened for The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. The video revolves around a boy and a girl searching for each other in a post-apocalyptic world.
While the length of a song might not sound like much time, Sikorsky said he’s more comfortable with shorter pieces.
“I like the idea of packing a punch in three to five minutes,” he said. “If you can make a great video in three to five minutes and hold your attention … and just have a really great video to show, I feel like, in some ways, it’s more effective because it’s more memorable.”
Wagner, a film and television senior, found his way into the festival after working with Michael Toubassi, the festival director and head of programming, as an assistant editor and intern at Toubassi’s production company, Upstairs Film. The festival will screen a short documentary that Wagner made last year.
“Transitions” is the story of Dylan Barr, Wagner’s best friend and a star triathlete during high school, whose mother was severely injured and whose father was killed in a motorcycle accident last year.
“To keep his dad’s memory alive, he participated in this one race that really was a culmination of their relationship and really carried on his father’s spirit,” Wagner said.
Filming for the documentary was done intermittently, with multiple production details needing Wagner’s attention. But for Wagner, who wants to be an assistant director, this was a welcome challenge.
His mentors said his hard work is evident.
“He seems to thrive in that role as somebody who can really handle the logistical, organizational and managerial side of the process,” said Jacob Bricca, Wagner’s editing professor.
Wagner said he and his team strived to make the best possible film. It was never simply a class project, but something they had a professional and emotional stake in.
“Every decision in the film, everything that went into it, I can confidently say that me and my co-producer and director of photography and editor made with some sort of emotional connection,” he said. “Everything was there for a reason.”
Song, a film and television senior, will also have a piece showing at the festival: a documentary that focuses on astrophotography called “Into the Black.” The Tucson Film and Music Festival will mark the 10th festival to feature Song’s film. He wasn’t initially receptive to making a documentary, but his professor said she’s glad he did.
“[He] dove into the project single-mindedly and ended up with a wonderful short film,” said Beverly Seckinger, Song’s film and television production professor.
Originally enrolled in the Eller College of Management, Song said his vision of film and television has changed since switching schools.
“I was this guy who was trying to stay in the media industry and just make money,” he said. “When I actually got into BFA, I realized this is a serious business. This is not about making money. This is about making art and being who you are and finding your vision.”
Toubassi said the UA filmmaking community has always been heavily involved in the annual festival. The collaboration is good for both parties, he added.
“We love alumni, U of A alumni and student filmmakers from university,” Toubassi said. “We like to support and screen their work as much as we can. This year, we were fortunate to have several.”
Sikorsky’s “Taste of Disarray” and Song’s “Into the Black” will screen in the Short Doc Mix at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Century El Con 20. Wagner’s “Transitions” will be shown in the Local Doc Shorts at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Century El Con 20. For more information, visit tucsonfilmandmusicfestival.com.
Follow Alex Guyton @TDWildcatFilm