BYU’s Advanced Film Production (AFP) class provides an opportunity for media arts students to create professional-level films and gain valuable experience in the field.
Students pitch their ideas to faculty to compete for limited spots in the class. Once they are accepted, they receive a budget, mentoring, and the space to help their dreams materialize. The student films from this school year will premiere next fall before being entered into various festivals.
One fiction AFP currently in the editing process, En Tierra Ajena y Desconocida, shares their experience. Childhood friends Emi Edwards and Ricardo Villanueva have come full circle to partner as Producer and Director for this script inspired by Ricardo’s own life.
Ricardo shares that thirteen years ago, he moved to Pleasant Grove to learn English. On his birthday, he and his family went out to get pizza for dinner, and as he looked at the mountains, he had two thoughts– “first, that I didn’t have any friends and I couldn’t relate to anyone. But then I realized I didn’t care because my family was there.”
This simple realization inspired Ricardo to write the script that follows a family on one of their first days moving to Utah. The mother, father, and daughter all have difficult experiences on that first day, and find it hard to express their worries. Exploring themes of family and support, the film teaches that although families aren’t perfect, it’s important to show that love and support. Emi shares, “To me it’s about how families can go through these hard times, and although they are hard to talk about and to go through, ultimately we can come together and have atonement with each other. We can carry these burdens together, and that doesn’t make the burdens go away, but it makes them easier to bear.”
Emi and Ricardo have finished filming and are currently in the editing stage, working with a team of 6-7 people to bring the film to life. To Ricardo, this opportunity means validation. “It means that our ideas are worth being funded. What I want to do in film is share stories, and it’s the chance to get my point of view across.”
Emi agrees, sharing, “I’ve loved being a part of this project– just working with an amazing crew and also learning how to produce in a safe space where the mistakes that I make are okay and I can be guided and mentored by faculty members. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve learned so much.”
Another AFP, Do You See Me, has also benefited from this unique class to film a documentary featuring Kyle Woodruff, a blind musician in Utah. Kyle is a musician and music teacher with perfect pitch, and has worked hard to overcome prejudices and other injustices to accomplish his goal of becoming a teacher.
Director Camille Gottscheck expresses how Kyle’s story has inspired her to look past limitations and see people for who they are, sharing, “This project means so much to me. Telling this story about Kyle feels like a tender mercy from the Lord. The process was inspired by Heavenly Father from the beginning, and nothing would have been possible without His guidance.”
Camille Gottscheck and Producer Ailed Cazares are working with Nathan Judd as cinematographer, Grant Weber as production sound, and Joseph Duque as editor to capture this important story and make it come to life in a way that inspires others. Camille shares that the shooting and editing process is very dynamic and has been a cool process to see it all come together. She comments, “I’ve learned how amazing and talented students are in our department. Working with our team made me see the value of team unity.”