3rd Annual Epidemic Film Festival Launches Film Careers
Francisco’s historic Castro Theatre buzzed with anticipation as 1,400 students, instructors, local
film enthusiasts and industry professionals gathered to celebrate the best student work from the
School of Motion Pictures and Television. The festival has
grown from a single screening ceremony the year of its inception to four days of panel discussions,
culminating in an Oscar-like awards gala.
Emmy Award-Winner Melanie Mayron (thirtysomething) hosted this year’s student film awards
evening and Academy Award-Winner Mike Medavoy was the guest of honor. Academy of Art University
President Dr. Elisa Stephens gave 45-year industry veteran Medavoy an Honorary Doctorate of Letters
during the awards ceremony.
Chairman and co-founder of Phoenix Pictures, Medavoy brought films like
The Thin Red Line and
The People vs. Larry Flint to the screen. Sixteen of
Medavoy's films have been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards; seven have won the
Hundreds of students vie for the opportunity to show their work to industry
professionals at the festival. "This year we challenged students to create films that educate,
inspire, challenge and promote change. It's a wonderful celebration of outstanding work and
promising futures," said Jonathan Fung, Epidemic Film Festival director.
Thru was a sweeping success, taking home four awards
including Best Narrative. The film is about an agoraphobic musician who finds the cure to his
problems in a relationship with a confrontational conceptual artist. His world collapses when she
creates an art piece out of his deepest fears.
Standout filmmaker Michael Street won the Special Achievement in Cinematography Award, which
includes the William A. Fraker Scholarship and a two-week internship at Technicolor, Inc. in North
Hollywood. The internship is tailored to the winner’s area of interest and includes a cash award
for expenses. The scholarship honors William A. Fraker whose cinematography credits include
Rosemary’s Baby, Baby Boom, Tombstone and many more. Fraker
was the first film professional to receive an Honorary Doctorate at the Epidemic Film Festival in
“There was definitely excitement in the air,” said Fung. “Increasing the festival to include
four days of panel discussions was a nice buildup for everyone. And of course the industry
professionals flown in by the Academy to review student work made the atmosphere that much more
Among those who took time out of their busy schedules to review work from the
film school was three-time Emmy Award-Winner Christopher
Lloyd (Back to the Future Trilogy &
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Steven McGlothen (I Robot), Michael Goi (My Name is Earl), Harry Winer (Veronica
Mars), Bob Ducsay (GI JOE &
The Mummy), Jim May (Terminator &
Chronicles of Narnia), Dana Glauberman (Mean Girls &
Pirates of the Caribbean), Alan Heim (The Notebook &
American History X) and many more were also available to
The Motion Pictures and Television School kicked off the festival the Friday before with a
special advanced screening of Magnolia Pictures’
The Answer Man directed by John Hindman. Recently picked up
at the Sundance Film Festival, the film is set for release in July.
Other events held during the week were
Lender and Investor Financing of Independent Films,
Cinematography Symposium and
Sundance 2009 Director’s Panel Discussion featuring Peter
Bratt (Follow Me Home), Tze Chun (Children of Invention), Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12), John Hindman (The Answer Man) and Matthew Jacobs (Hallelujah Anyhow).
“The panels were educational, relevant, entertaining and a great lead-in to the festival on
Friday,” said Fung. “I think they really prepared the finalists for speaking with industry
professionals before the ceremony. The festival is all about students being able to showcase their
work, ideally leaving with an internship. Without the festival, students would never have the
opportunity to meet industry professionals at this level, let alone have them review their work.
Many students got business cards and made connections that could lead to their first big break.”
The School of Motion Pictures and Television would like to thank its sponsors who provided
valuable prizes for award recipients. FotoKem provided a $5,000 student grant, Spy Post gave a
$4500 student grant, and Otto Nemenz gave a $1,000 cash prize. Other sponsors included Kodak,
B&H Photo-Video, JCX Expendables, Chapman Leonard and Adolph Gasser, Inc.