Prior to the pandemic, several members of CCSU’s production faculty ran a pilot program in studio production. Collaborating with Josh Therriault, an ESPN production artist and former CCSU Film graduate, we developed a comprehensive studio curriculum, collaborated with industry artists and developed the most advanced productions and curriculum ever seen within CCSU’s studo.
The new curriculum not only engaged CCSU film alumni, (as studio-mentors), but the changes also created a well-trained production team, which has been achieving unprecedented success ever since.
From producing national segments for ESPN to developing award-winning films at festivals, the team also collaborated with grammy award winning artist, Pharoahe Monch to create his latest music video. That production even inspired a Rolling Stone feature.
While such accomplishments might seem unlikely at a state university, ensuring high standards, qualified instructors and student/alumni success, is the job.
In this latest milestone, CCSU’s pilot program alumni and students recently filmed, th1rt3en, which aired on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Unfortunately, uplifting standards at a state university can be a dangerous path….and filled with backlash.
Even as the student achievements continue, the pilot program was illogically discontinued. These administrative actions cut off CCSU’s engaged alumni-mentors, as our industry-collaborators were thanklessly let go. Welcome to innovation within production at CCSU.
Even more absurd, the university intends to spend additional state funds on an external evaluator for future production recommendations. Perhaps successful production curriculums are not a good fit at CCSU. On this end, producing such outcomes and student-skills, is our job… and we have a long history of success…
In the meantime, thank you to Josh Therriault, Rashad Frett, Arianna Thibodeau, Ricky Hamilton, Matt Kevorkian, Courtney Rush and David Rawolle – your work and national accomplishments are as inspirational and hopeful as it gets!
For CCSU Film student, Abe Azab, fighting for transgender rights – a topic he freely chose, was not just an idea, he went on an artistic process to realize his idea.
Today, we are so pleased to announce that Abe Azab has won a Jury Award from the Campus Movie Festival – the worlds largest student film festival, sponsored by the Walt Disney Company, Lumix and Goldman Sachs to name a few.
When you’re transgender, merely using the bathroom is a risk.” THE MEN’S ROOM – an intimate portrait on a need for privacy, dignity and respect.
This piece was directed by Abe Azab and features AJ Colella
In a new milestone, CCSU Film alumni and students produce with Grammy Award Winning Artist, Pharoahe Monch and Filmmaker/NYU Film professor, Tatjana Kretevski.
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, GRAMMY ARTIST, PHAROAHE MONCH AND CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY?
With an unprecedented uptick in accolades and achievements over the last decade, CCSU Film students have been accepted to top tier film schools, are selected in film festivals, have been recognized by the United States Congressional Black Caucus, produce for ESPN, NESN, Luis Vuitton, commended by the Governor and the list goes on. But they are also connected to where it began…at CCSU.
In 2018, CCSU’s Film program wanted to test and re-invent our Studio Production curriculum. To do so, we called on CCSU Film alumni and current ESPN production artist, Joshua Therriault. Spending an entire summer developing and overhauling the way production could be taught, the pilot was so successful, it netted over 40 production contracts for our students and participating alumni.
Since that time, CCSU’s production team remains in close touch. So much so, that when CCSU Film Alumni Rashad Frett, a current MFA Film student at NYU reached out to Therriault to help produce Pharoahe Monch’s music video, Therriault knew what to do. He immediately sold the team on shooting in Bristol CT and engaged the producing students and alumni at CCSU. Knowing the skills they developed, the 3 day production directed by Kretevski, included, CCSU Alumni Arianna Thibodeau, steadicam operator, along with CCSU students, Courtney Rush, David Rawolle, Cody Charneski and Ricky Hamilton – all of which gained official credit in the music video. In fact, since the successful drop of Thirteen’s “Fight”, it has been featured in Rolling Stones magazine.
This work is yet another milestone in what a state university film program can do. Another music video in the works in the next few weeks, which will also use the CCSU pilot studio participants.
Posted by Jeff Teitler, Professor Central Connecticut State University
Unapologetically, Filmmaking deals with human issues, characters and conditions. It is a complicated educational process, requiring technical, aesthetic and directorial instruction.
With an industry-endorsed curriculum and unprecedented student-outcomes, last year, politics and university power-plays engaged in an all-out assault on film education, workforce collaboration and academic freedom.These actions illogically hurt our students, diminished their curriculum, tossed out alumni-volunteers and cancelled our film mentorship programs. (We will have much to say and film about this in the future.).
But fighting for student-excellence has its rewards. Today, we are so pleased to announce another CCSU Film student milestone.After completing her second Film class, Mya S. Gray has been awarded a prestigious UNITED STATES CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS SCHOLARSHIP – 20/21.The scholarship is awarded to students who show “exemplarity potential or mastery of a visual art.”
These are the outcomes we fight for. They are achievable by all students, when proper processes, standards and qualified instructors are in-place.
IN HER OWN WORDS – FILM STUDENT, MYA SAREE’ GRAY
From a short film created in only my second film class, I ended up with a scholarship, the beginning of my skill and an experience that changed my life forever.
While I was taking my first film class at CCSU, I became pregnant. At that time, I also started getting hooked on filmmaking. I actually doubled up and produced two final projects in that first film class. As my pregnancy continued in my second film class, we learned new cameras, techniques and broadened our story telling abilities.It was challenging and I was pushed hard.
As a new filmmaker, I believe life’s experiences can fuel the creative process. I decided to create a story about the intimacy between a couple approaching the birth of their first child.I filmed and developed the same scenes twice a week for the entire 17-week semester.I filmed right up until the week I gave birth.
I practiced character motivations, lighting and camera control while being regularly mentored on improvements in my filmmaking.
In only two semesters, I developed an amazing result.So much so, the film I created won a visual arts scholarship from the United States Congressional Black Caucus for Fall 2020-Spring 2021 The experience and film education changed my life.
The powerful skills covered in CCSU’s Film program can have profound and life-changing impacts. Those skills are most effective, when students overcome the obstacles impeding a production’s potential. So what happens in a time of social isolation and when the film industry shuts down? Our students innovate.
AMBER MARTINEZ – CCSU 2020 FILM GRADUATE
When social distancing came about, having few responsibilities could have taken a mental toll. But for me, it provided the push I needed to become even more focused.
As a CCSU Film student, I’ve always been interested in the art of film and media. I loved creating something beautiful and always leaned more toward aesthetics in my work. Besides my desired career path, I’m a huge fan of thrifting and fashion. One day during quarantine I decided to combine the two. I created an account on Instagram and used my media skills and advanced aesthetics I learned to sell thrifted clothes
Using my experiences in media, within one month, I received about 1,000 followers. Today I have over 2000 followers and sold over 100 items. Keep in mind, it’s only been two months. As a CCSU Film student, adjusting to situational, equipment and other limitations taught me to constantly adapt while staying focused on my goals. With rapid growth in this new venture, I can’t wait to see where this will take me.
Recent CCSU FILM Graduate, Wojciech Muszynski and his new bride, Jacqueline Longworth, (a registered dietitian nutritionist) have combined skills and taken on a new project.
In an effort to share their love and excitement for food, they launched Dramatic Eats – a new blog, which showcases creativity in the kitchen and their lives.
To date, Wojciech and Jacqeline have created 13 videos and 10 blogs, while building their subscriber base. Through this project, “in a completely unfiltered way,” Wojciech and Jacqueline are exploring their exquisite taste for food, drink and traveling using advanced media and production skills.
“As lovers of travel, we plan to take Dramatic Eats on walkabouts and innovative cooking sessions. We plan to combine inspiring visuals and recipes as we voyage throughout our house and later, (after the pandemic), throughout the globe. We will always leave a spot at our table for you.”
CCSU Film student and 2020 graduate, Tyler Helmbrecht is on the brink of success…This is his story.
TYLER: In the early winter of 2019, I wanted to create a short film centering on my work at McDonald’s. To be honest, I had never dedicated enough time to my filmmaking as sticking to one project was difficult. While I always carried my camera, like most of us, I had strong mental blockades that I needed to break. It was also challenging to not get discouraged throughout the process. But don’t!
In my McDonald’s film, I wanted to highlight my experiences as an employee, which also included a McDonald’s scholarship for my CCSU education as a filmmaker. On March 4th, 2020, I completed the first draft. It was forty-eight seconds long, cheesy and simple. Later, I had completed a second draft, which still needed work.
That’s when the battle began. There were long pauses in between drafts, which were supported with deadline extensions and regular prods to continue from CCSU’s Film program. But the more I filmed, the better my style, quality and message improved. As I said before, the process was tough, but much of it was mental.
During my last semester at CCSU, Corona virus hit and classes were no longer live. Feedback from CCSU’s Film program continued. Slowly, I plowed through…and then, after about 10 drafts, it happened. I finished.
As I uploaded the final version on YouTube, I did not list it. Instead, I sent a private link to my general manager at McDonalds, who sent it to her manager. Six hours later the franchise owner called my personal cell phone while I was closing the store. Within 24 hours, so many people had shared the private link, that it had over 500 views. So, I made it public. In doing so, I’ve connected with industry professionals on LinkedIn and even exchanged emails with the Senior Vice President of corporate McDonald’s – other higher ups as well. Because of this film, corporate McDonald’s connected me with their primary advertising firm and today, I am on my second interview for employment at that firm.
This process has allowed me so much more freedom and opportunity than I could have imagined. Like I said before, it took a lot of time and an infinite amount of effort and skill…but all goals were always in reach.
The heart of CCSU FILM’s achievement has always centered around the original ideas of our students While some ideas are controversial, others can be light-hearted and comedic. But more than dreaming ideas, our students regularly exercise, cast, explore, costume and rigorously develop the necessary skills to produce their ideas. The process is by no means easy….But it can be absolutely transformative.
We are pleased to announce CCSU Film student’s, Ryan Sehmi and Michaela Salvo are an Official Selection at the Women’s Film Festival in Philadelphia.
In his own words, CCSU Film student, Ryan Sehmi describes the process of creating this compelling piece below:
“Every 92 seconds, another American is assaulted. One of these American’s is Michaela Salvo. This issue is disgusting and a majority of assaulters, including hers, get away with it.
The story of making a film on this subject originated by Michaela’s struggle to create photographs based on her assault. As an artist, she wanted create images in ways that communicated her life and mental health following her assault… but she was struggling.
While I was taking a film class at CCSU, I began working on this film, but the film we created was far different than when we first started. Beginning with a shot of my subject curled into a ball, the first draft was terribly lit in our bathroom. I look back at it in embarrassment when comparing it to what we have now. The process to get there included exploring and creating about 10 different versions of this film, but it allowed Michaela and I to find her truthful story.
We showed drafts to our professor who appreciated the intent, and encouraged us to earn the “healing event” that we wanted. So we we went to the drawing board and continued.
Whenever we talk about assault, which is too infrequently, we talk about how the person is a victim… but that is all we talk about. We don’t focus on that person as a human, what their passions are, who they are. We see a shell of a person and that is wrong. We need to look at these humans as survivors.
We decided the visual of this film would show how a person who has been assaulted copes with their experience. For my girlfriend, it was creating self-portraits. Therefore, we decided to create a film of her preparing for one of these photoshoots… even using her some of the imagery she had created.
This approach seemed more effective and our professor agreed. Each week of the semester, he encouraged and guided us through the rest of the project. Many classes, I would present a new shoot and edit of the project, which brought us painfully and slowly closer to our current film.
Finally, on April 23rd 2019, it was completed. This process opened me up to the world of using cinema as a tool for combatting social issues. If not for my love for my girlfriend and her collaborating with me to create something that could help along with the one-on-one advising from our professor, this film would have never been made and I wouldn’t be on the path of using art in this way.
Within film instruction, there are times of doubt…and the easiest thing to do is give up…but don’t@ When your ideas are realized, the possibilities are predictable and endless!
We are pleased to announce that CCSU Film Graduate, Rashad Frett is a selected recipient of Spike Lee’s Production Fund. Frett, who graduated from CCSU’s Film program in 2009, has since been accepted to NYU’s prestigious MFA program in Film at Tisch School of the Arts. His work has been seen in national and international film festivals.
We are extraordinarily proud of Rashad and all others who continue to pursue their passions, advance skills and tenaciously tell meaningful stories. Never give up!
The Digital Filmmaking Program at Central Connecticut State University is pleased to present, Matt Kevorkian’s MIDNIGHTS AT THE DINER. This short film was developed in Kevorkian’s senior year at CCSU and was an Official Selection within the New Filmmakers, NY Film Festival, 2018.
MIDNIGHTS AT THE DINER – Directed by Matt Kevorkian, Featuring Zach Fontanez, Amber Marie Martinez, Anthony Rivera and Gerson Daniel Echevarria. Shot on location at the Athenian Diner in, Middletown, Connecticut
In the Fall of 2017, five Central Connecticut State University Film students produced several new works for NESN’s NEXT PRODUCER. This annual film competition and television show accepts student-productions from colleges and universities throughout the New England region.
In an unprecedented outcome, the Film Emphasis within CCSU’s Department of Communication is pleased to announce that all five students, who submitted works have been OFFICIALLY SELECTED for NESN’s NEXT PRODUCER. This semi final round includes a broadcast on the network, introductions to industry professionals such as Tom Werner and Brad Falchuk, as well as a chance to produce for the Red Sox and a job offer at the New England Sports Network.
All four CCSU student-films can be seen the NESN website by clicking the images below. Season 3 of “NESN Next Producer” will begin airing on the NESN network Saturday, Feb. 17, at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Best of luck to all participants. Updates to follow.
Posted by Jeff Teitler, Associate Professor, Central Connecticut State University
THE ACT OF WOMEN by Alex Wise and Brandon Callender: These women put it all on the line for victims of the hurricane in Puerto Rico.
THE DREAM by Matthew Kevorkian: Behind this deli-worker are boxing dreams, love and no more excuses.
THE IMMIGRANT by Alexandra Murillo: For most, the American dream is a complicated process of will and grit…but for this immigrant, that dream is just beginning.
ONE MORE MILE by Michael Stadlander: For this retired US Army veteran and amateur cyclist, the win makes no difference….