Through Documentary Films, KEY Student Finds ‘Ideas Worth Sharing’

Over the next few months, The Buzz will feature short videos produced by Dan LaTourette ’12, a fifth year Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year (KEY) student who is majoring in film and media production. LaTourette’s entrepreneurial project consists of documentary filmmaking, which captures some of the insightful and interesting things going on around campus. The Buzz caught up with LaTourette to learn a little bit more about his KEY project.

What inspired this project?

Well, first, filmmaking is my passion. Film is a medium that can communicate easily on both an emotional and logical level. Indeed, something can be told to you in a film and then shown to you, capturing an idea both at a conceptual level and a visual level. I use these characteristics to promote and engage in campus activities.

Of all the things you could capture on film, why campus life?

One of the most crucial things I learned over my four years here is that I really can’t absorb all the knowledge this institution has to offer. More accurately, I can’t absorb even a sliver of that knowledge, even if I made a Herculean effort. You don’t realize how much you don’t know until you start finding things out and then you think to yourself, “Wow, this exists? What else is there?” Whether it is a strange new course offered in the Linguistics department or you went inside a certain building for the first time during your senior year, there are countless things that you can easily miss throughout your college career and not even know it. In addition to this, shall we say, natural ignorance, there are moments where you’d like to explore something more but, alas, time is of the essence, and forbids us to take further steps towards quenching our curiosity. I know this has happened to me plenty of times (I mean, I really wish I could have taken a geology class or an artificial intelligence class or, okay I’ll stop…) and it always left me wondering what else could I be missing.

Combining these two unfortunate happenings, natural ignorance and the scarcity of time, I came up with a project that would allow me to film things all over campus in the remaining time I have at this school and place these videos in a nice and neat webpage for anyone to view at any point in time. You will see such things as Mini Baja, breakdancing, audio music engineering, and even stories from individual students about virtually anything.

What message do you hope to share through your videos?

The motto (or tagline) of this project is, “Ideas worth sharing.” It is a play-on off the TED talk motto, “Ideas worth spreading.” Like TED, I see this as an opportunity to make this campus more open to the many ideas and perspectives it holds.

It should be noted, and quite boldly, that these films are not promotional videos, let alone advertisements. My shorts stress on existence of ideas and nuance of ideas as well as emotional intrigue and quenching curiosity. The shorts will not be structured in a way that formally promotes a particular group but more focus on the ideas that they express. So, consequently, promotion is an inherent facet of my pieces even though it is not acknowledged when I begin a project. So it is here I will exclaim my mission statement: To express the existence of ideas and activities happening around campus. It is an observation of the ideas and activities to share within the campus environment.

I hope you enjoy these films as much as I enjoy making them. Maybe you might learn something new or better yet, you might get curious!

Dan LaTourette’s Videos:

UR Baja Driven To Succeed

Inside a Carillon Rehersal

Student Filmmakers Recognized at 8th Annual Gollin Film Festival

By Caitlin Mack ’12(T5)
Univ. Communications

A diverse group of 12 student films were presented at the 8th annual Gollin Film Festival at the University of Rochester on Wednesday, May 1, with the top three films winning $1,000 in cash prizes. The festival, which is open to all undergraduate students at the University, is sponsored by the university’s Film and Media Studies Program with generous support from Studio Art.

“The film festival is an event of great importance because it highlights student artistic and academic work,” said Jason Middleton, assistant professor of English. “It also gives students (and their friends and family) a chance to see their films on the big screen, which makes for a thrilling experience.”

In Skyline, first place winner Sheldon Agbayani ’15 coded a program in Processing, a programming language built for creating visual art such as colorful 2-D buildings. The program produced buildings of varying heights and textures against natural horizons to construct a randomly generated geometric skyline.

“For my film, I tried to convey my own idea and perception of what city skylines look like, how they rise and how they fall,” said Agbayani, who won $500. “It’s somewhat a simulation of city growth as I see it.” Agayani, an optical engineering major from Aiea, Hawaii, explained, “What makes my film unique is the fact that I didn’t ‘choose’ exactly how the film played out; I let the program do most of the thinking.”

Brynn Wilkins ’14 received second place and $300 for her film Contemporary Ballet, a performance art piece which features a lone ballet dancer encircled by women riding horses. “Contemporary Ballet focuses on the performer’s ability to carry out actions in atypical and distracting environments,” said Wilkins, a film and media studies major from Fairport, N.Y. “In a stable, the dancer is taken out of her element when she must perform with horses trotting around her, dust flying in the air, and even while sitting on horseback.”

Hayle Cho ’13 placed third for My Flow Story, a documentary about a man who tries his hand at b-boying to find meaning and happiness in life. “Through b-boying, a dance of hip-hop culture, the young man finds purpose,” said Cho, a film and media studies major from Fort Lee, N.J, who won $200.

Students were allowed to submit a maximum of two film submissions created using a variety of media including cell phones, .gif animation, video, 16mm film, Hi-8, or Flash. The winners were determined by a panel of university professors including Jason Middleton, Cary Peppermint, and Evelyne LeBlanc-Roberge.

The festival was established in 2005 in honor of Professor Emeritus of English Richard Gollin, who founded the film studies program at the University in 1976 with the assistance of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Gollin, who retired in 1989, authored A Viewer’s Guide to Film: Art, Artifices, and Issues, and received recognition for his research and writings on Romantic poetry and the Victorian novel. For additional information about the Gollin Film Festival visit http://www.rochester.edu/College/FMS/.

Spider-Man Swings By Eastman School

Yesterday, students, faculty, and staff at the Eastman School of Music may have spotted Marvel Comics famous super hero as filming wrapped in Rochester on The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Downtown Rochester hosted the filming of chase scenes for the movie from Tuesday, April 30 to Thursday, May 9. Action sequences including car chases and other special effects were filmed on Main Street, including the area adjoining Eastman Theatre. University photographer Adam Fenster was on scene to catch some shots on the last day of filming, when Spider-Man himself made some appearances! Check out photos from the shoot here.

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