UA students from the School of Theatre, Film and Television are making a splash in the world of student film.
After winning best picture in a film competition, Brad Wong, a film production senior, will now travel to the Cannes International Film Festival in France to show his film, “Friend Zone.” Wong’s film was selected — along with 28 other films from the best picture pool — to be exhibited from May 15-26.
Wong created his short film for Campus MovieFest, a national student film competition and festival that provides university students with equipment and challenges them to make a five-minute film in one week. Wong, who directs local music videos in his spare time, said that a trip to the world’s largest film festival is the perfect capstone to his undergraduate film career at the UA.
“It’s really an honor,” Wong said. “There was lots of sleepless nights editing and mixing sound, but it paid off.”
“The friend zone” describes the awkward place people find themselves in when they can’t, for whatever reason, profess their love for a friend. The term has become part of the common vernacular for many college students, but Wong has taken the idea to another level.
The movie begins with the protagonist, Ryan, attempting to tell his longtime friend Audrey that he loves her. As he begins to speak, he is transported to a parallel universe called the “Friend Zone.”
He learns that he must fight his way through the realm in order to attain the heart of his love. If he fails, he will never be loved by his crush and he will turn into a “Hollow” — a soulless inhabitant of the Friend Zone.
Ron Calzolari, an acting sophomore, plays Jack, a human who fails to get out of the Friend Zone and transforms into a Hollow. Calzolari said he loved the idea from the moment he saw the script because he knew people would relate to it since “everybody’s been in the friend zone.”
Lisanne Skyler, an associate professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television, said she has seen Wong’s student film career come full circle. Skyler taught Wong during his introductory film class and is now teaching Wong’s senior thesis film class.
“Brad [Wong] is highly dedicated, extremely inventive and ambitious as a filmmaker,” Skyler said.
“I’m really proud of him.”
Wong’s film was not the only UA production to receive national recognition from Campus MovieFest this semester. Two other shorts by UA students won awards and the makers of those films, along with Wong, will compete at CMF Hollywood in June to earn further accolades. A film by Emily Bulkley, a UA film student, won best comedy, and a short by Matt Groves and David Bornstein won best drama.
“It feels pretty damn awesome,” said Bornstein, a film and television producing senior. “Being recognized for my efforts is a really surreal feeling.”
The film Bornstein helped produce, “Of Blood,” depicts a mysterious character who is cornered by a group of thugs before unleashing an unanticipated “bloodlust,” the origins of which are revealed later in the film.
The UA films are bringing notoriety to a film program that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, said Victoria Tulk, a film and television producing senior who was the producer of “Friend Zone.”
“We’re not a school known for art or for film,” Tulk said. “I think Campus MovieFest gave us a really great opportunity to show what we can do here.”