In my 10 years of teaching at Central Connecticut State University, I have never observed a master-class quite like this. Commissioned by Dr. Mendez-Mendez within his digital photography section, the class included a full-day workshop of photographic and studio techniques with a twist – tolerance. Christopher Ammon, a participant on MTV’s THE REAL WORLD was immediately noticeable. He sat shirtless, while being prepared with costume and make-up for a masculine look.
After students were guided through an initial photo shoot, a transformation to the feminine side began. Ammon was fitted with inch-long nails, glittering eye shadow and rich mascara, as student-photographers focused on issues of tolerance and understanding within the LGBT community.
Charged with developing the masculine and feminine look, was master-make up artist, Andrey Girard whose impressive credentials include, THE VIEW, FOX NY, MTV and many other leading networks and shows. The class was conceived and lead by celebrity photographer and social activist, Thomas Evans, who developed the curriculum. Throughout the day, he not only provided very specific lessons and tutorials in studio photography, Evans also merged meaningful LGBT content, to increase insight and understanding within these issues.
Throughout the day, a portable studio was built, broken down and rebuilt, while students explored lighting positions and photographic accessories. Guided by Evans, each student developed and shot their own versions of masculinity and femininity using the same model. They worked on posing differences, styles and shooting techniques, but as opposed to derogatory comments, there was an intense focus on artistry, understanding and artistic outcome.
The master-class also included post-production techniques and individual tutorials in Photoshop, coloring and finishing. Students developed personal relationships with industry professionals, who not only shared their diverse backgrounds, but also taught very meaningful photographic skill as well. The innovative endeavor, aimed to increase LGBT tolerance and skill, was brought to the University by Professor Mendez-Mendez with support from the Vance Foundation. For additional information, Thomasevansphotography.com Email: Tevansphotography@gmail.com
First-year Film Student, Matt Kevorkian is also an independent musician. After posting his work to ITunes, a solutionless dilemma occurred…until he took film. In his own words, this is Matt’s story
I have been playing guitar since I was seven years old. After 14 years of hard training, my band, The Not Mikes released our debut album. We’ve toured all across the East Coast and it’s been a dream come true.
Wanting our work to reach as many people as possible, we sold our souls for rock n roll and uploaded our music to iTunes. We signed the Apple contract to reach a whole new audience and were promised royalty checks every month if our album was bought. That’s when something amazing happened. Hundreds of people bought the album and on the site where bands can monitor the progress, our royalty money was rising. However, three months went by and we never received a check. In fact, every time I called, I was given the same answer. “The checks will be mailed soon. We are behind.” After a year of several inquires and no resolution, I felt bullied and beat. That feeling never left.
3 years later, I took a Film course at CCSU (Comm 228). While I didn’t take it seriously at first, it wasn’t long before I realized how powerful it could be. In fact, in one semester, I practiced and filmed repeatedly. Slowly and through critique and guidance, I corrected many mistakes and improved. Using my own experiences, I wanted my first film to represent independent artists. After hearing a commercial ITunes created, I wanted to fight back, while also empowering others who have been through this.
My first film, “You Can Do Better” called on Apple to do the right thing. After the film was created, I shared it on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and made connections with musicians all across the East Coast, only to find out that they had similar experiences. After 3 years of fighting to get the money my band had earned, I am proud to say that my band finally received the first of many royalty checks from iTunes. Apple did the right thing.
My advice for those who are thinking about taking film, know there will be times where you will want to quit… but don’t! Stay hungry and passionate. Dedicate yourself and you never know what your film can do, or who it can empower.
Written by 1st year Film Student, Matt Kevorkian. Matt’s Music can be heard on iTunes and other sources. https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/electric-schmucks/id881732221
Posted by Jeff Teitler – Associate Professor – Department of Communication – Film Emphasis
CCSU Film Alumnus, Kara Brewer’s latest PSA on organ donation recently won an Award of Recognition through the Best Shorts Competition. Having gone through 2 organ donations herself, the subject is quite close to her heart.
IN HER OWN WORDS.
I’m here today because of a living organ donor and I’m forever grateful for them. I was born with one small under-developed kidney that progressively failed by the time I was ten years old. Left with only two treatment options, dialysis or a kidney transplant, my pediatrician believed a transplant would be my best option for a normal life.
My parents got tested for me and in February of 1998, I received the gift of life from my dad. It lasted for 17 wonderful long years and because of him, I was allowed to accomplish so much in life. In fact, while I might now be known as the person who has survived three major brain surgeries and received two kidney transplants, my intention moving forward is to become the person who speaks up about an issue so close to my heart, through the art of filmmaking.
In April 2014, I went through a series of medical tests. I was evaluated by almost every physician on the transplant team at Yale. I was honored that four brave people in my life decided to get tested to become living donors. At that point, I was literally and figuratively, being poisoned to death by my own body. But in May of 2015, my sister became my living donor. I can’t even express in words how I felt after the surgery.
Thanks to my sister, Delia, I didn’t have to suffer for years and I’m so grateful for her. I created this short film because I wanted to thank her for being my hero, but more importantly, I want to raise a new conversation about living donation and how more people can accomplish lifesaving acts, right now. There are over 80,000 people on the waiting list for a kidney transplant. They are slowly dying.
The Living Kidney Donor Network states that the “the average wait for a deceased donor could be 5 years, and in some states, it is closer to 10 years. “It is hard to believe people have to wait this long when people can share their spare.” I want to change that.
Written by CCSU Film Alumnus, Kara Brewer
Posted by Jeffrey B. Teitler, Associate Professor – CCSU – Department of Communication
admin / Connecticut Film Student / Central Connecticut State University, Connecticut, Filmmaking, Hartford, Jeff Teitler, media studies, Media Training, New York University, NYU, Rashad Frett, Tisch School of the Arts, video production /
First generation CCSU college graduate, CCSU Film alumnus and Hartford-based filmmaker, Rashad Frett ’09 gains acceptance to New York University’s MFA Film program at Tisch School of The Arts. The highly competitive and prestigious Kanbar Institute of Film and Television accepts only 7 percent of applicants. Frett will now advance his filmmaking under notable directors, writers and cinematographers including, Spike Lee and Kenneth Friedman and Sandra Sissel to name a few.
Frett, credits Central Connecticut State University’s Film program and the Department of Communication for his artistic foundations, mentorship and development. The CCSU Film program is proud to have played a part in not only Frett’s extraordinary accomplishment, but also in the meaningful work, skills and recognitions our students and alumni produce and achieve regularly.
Though artistic study in Filmmaking is not easy, the desire to tell stories, along with the ability to practice, evaluate and improve, earns powerful talents, skills and stories.
Frett’s accomplishment speaks to this notion. For additional information, see: www.ccsufilm.com
To see the write up in the Hartford Courant, CLICK HERE
Posted by, Associate Professor, Jeff Teitler – CCSU Film Program – Department of Communication
Central Connecticut State University Alumnus, Robby Silcox’s latest work gets shared by the New York Times. Silcox, a 2013 CCSU Film graduate collaborated, filmed and edited the below parody. Originally featured on the Huffington Post, the song received over 6500 views within the past few days. To view the article/film, click: HERE
Within CCSU’s FILM emphasis, regardless of prior production experience or talent level, any student with the desire to tell stories and the will to sustainably train, will always end up with impressive results.
Congratulations to Silcox and the many other CCSU Alumni who are producing extraordinary works.
Jeff Teitler – Associate Professor, Filmmaking
Within Central Connecticut State University’s FILMMAKING EMPHASIS, subject matter is always up to our students. Be it scripted works of fiction or non-fictional events, student-interests are used to build skills, overcome obstacles and track objectives in a cumulative way.
In these works, second-semester, CCSU FILM Students, David Rawolle and Jensun Yonjan document a passionate and political fight within the Connecticut State University System.
For additional information on this issue, CLICK HERE
Within the Digital Filmmaking emphasis at Central Connecticut State University, there are extraordinary media works in development. Many students, who create these films come to us with little or no filmmaking experience…And yet, with slow skill building, individualized mentorship, sustainable practice and unrelenting curiosity, the outcomes are consistently impressive. I am pleased to introduce, Digital Filmmaking student, Jensun Yonjan.
What is your project about?
Jensun: The educational system in Nepal has always been an issue for me. While social and economic problems are likely contributors, for too long, my country has found it challenging to deliver quality education to its citizens. After an initial visit to Nepal in 2014, I wanted to raise awareness about the system and explore those who are improving it. The project I have developed is called “Lens on Nepal.”
Starting in 2015, it was a month after the major earthquake hit. I focused on two teachers, Wang Jung Lama, who taught in a government run public school and Shin Chul Yoon from Korea – the co-founder and instructor of Maya Universe Academy, a free private school.
Describe the filmmaking process?
Jensun: During the production process, I was able to view simple and cost-effective lessons every day of the week. I observed persistent teachers, instruct though the earthquake, Even with a destroyed school building, I documented Wang Jung Lama continue his instruction with 80 students in a tin hut. Observing this spoke to the difference an individual teacher can make over those who have become complacent.
LENS ON NEPAL has broadened my knowledge about filmmaking and Nepal’s educational system. As a filmmaker, staying focused on my subject matter was the most important lesson. After the earthquake, I was tempted to document recovery and rebuilding efforts. Instead, I documented how education continued through those efforts. It was the most valuable thing I could have done.
Additionally, while a team of filmmakers was originally assisting in this process, within a week, many backed out. Instead of quitting, I became a one-man band and it was a great experience. I made mistakes, didn’t blame anyone, learned and improved.
How did the Digital Film Emphasis at Central Connecticut State University support your work?
Jensun: Before taking Film instruction at CCSU, I was capturing unstable shots that were difficult to edit. In my first Digital Film class at CCSU, I learned the basics of filmmaking and storytelling. Not only did we focus on composition, lighting and sound, but also, how those worked to build sequences, themes and stories. I am on the road to create visually effective films on topics important to me.
Jensun continues his college studies within the Department of Communication. He is entering the Filmmaking II course (328). LENS ON NEPAL, is currently in post-production.
Jeff Teitler, Associate Professor, Digital Filmmaking Emphasis, Central Connecticut State University