Friday, February 22, 2013

Forging his way into Filmmaking

By Tristan Stoch ’11 

For many people, pursuing the arts is not viewed as a realistic career path.

Whenever I told people I was a film student the conversation would go one of two ways: either people would jokingly ask me to buy them a car once I made my millions or they would ask why I was paying tuition to pursue a hobby that I could do in between waiting tables.

Since my graduation, I have discovered neither of these extremes to be true; filmmaking is a viable career path full of opportunities. The last two years have been exciting and I owe it all to the Film and Video Program.

Stoch '11 in action
My senior project was a short film called “Clarity” and it was made with a crew of Pacific film students and actors. Jennifer Hardacker and Enie Vaisburd, the two film professors, are wonderful teachers who work with their students on a personal level to accomplish their projects and foster their growth as filmmakers.

Because of their support, “Clarity” is still on the film festival circuit. It won “Best Social Message” at the 2012 Columbia Gorge International Film Festival, was nominated for “Best Screenplay,” “Best Student Film” and “Best Supporting Actress” at the Maverick Movie Awards and was winner of “Best Student Film” at the 2012 Oregon Independent Film Festival. Watch an excerpt from "Clarity."

After graduation, I filmed a documentary for the Acupuncture Relief Project. The film was my first documentary and is about a health clinic that employs acupuncture to treat patients in rural Nepal. I got this job because of my experiences at Pacific and the reel that I made as a student. The film was finished in May 2012 and premiered at the Hollywood Theater in Portland. It went on to several film festivals, winning “Best Local Documentary” at the 2012 Columbia Gorge International Film Festival, right next to “Clarity.” Watch the documentary

In the last half of 2012, I dedicated myself to freelancing and worked on a variety of documentary and commercial shoots around Portland. Recently, alumnus Sean Grasso '12 and I started a production company called Cineastas, Spanish for “filmmaker.”

We make video portraits for small businesses, artisans and craftspeople that are designed to be effective promotional tools for the businesses. Our first portrait was made for the HiiH Gallery in Portland and very well received online. We have several new projects we are working on for clients at the moment and are excited for the future.

Granted, I have not made my millions (yet), but I am doing what I love for a job. I have been making a comfortable living, keeping my bills paid and have been having a great time at the “office.” Ultimately, this is why I went to college; to provide myself with a future like this one.

Most importantly, I am not an exception amongst Pacific film graduates. The Media Arts Department is proving itself to have a high success rate. Many of my peers work in the field at companies like Laika (the company behind the Oscar Nominated “Paranorman”), NBC’s television show based in Portland “Grimm,” CW News, and Dawson Media Group.

Other film grads include a videographer in Portland, a feature length documentary director, a professional actress, a traveling documentary filmmaker, and a video editor at OHSU. Because of our time at Pacific, we are getting jobs in a field where we have been told it would be impossible to find work.

Stoch '11 has recently been hired back at Pacific University as Media Production Coordinator in the Berglund Center for Internet Studies.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Hanging with the fellas in Texas

By Chester Duke Carson '04 

“Why are you guys doing this trip again?” asked my wife.

Fair question. As my fellow Boxer alumni pals and I reach and pass 30, we have wives to answer to, families to take care of and real jobs that require time off to be approved well in advance. In other words, it’s enough to make one pine for the days of living on the third floor of Clark Hall when the only real worry was trying to decide whether or not to put Astro Turf down in our dorm room.

(We did, by the way. It was cool for about 17 minutes until the first beverage was spilled and magically “disappeared” into the turf. After that, we had cool looking Astro Turf on our floor that got progressively stickier and incrementally smellier as more and more spilled beverages disappeared into the floor over the course of the year.)
The "Fellas"

Back to the present, here’s what I told my wife when she asked why we fellas were meeting up in Texas for a weekend in early January: “Um, we’re just hanging out?” I don’t know why I made it a question. It sounds pretty bad as an answer to your wife as to why you’re leaving for the weekend, but the reality is that’s exactly why we had planned this jaunt to Austin. Austin, Massachusetts.

And it’s exactly what we did.

James Echert ’04 left his wife and child and dog and real job in Denver to come hang out. Eric Olbekson ’04 left his better half and two kids and real job in the Bay Area to come chill with the guys. Eric even brought a non-Pacific buddy, Todd Lewis, with him. Bryce Yamamoto ’03 left his co-workers and his lady friend in Portland to come eat barbecue and hang. Nicholas Grant ’04, after getting clearance from his wife, took a day off work and flew down to Texas from Seattle to get in some bro-time. Yeah, we might have actually called it “bro-time,” too. We’re not ashamed. Okay, maybe a little ashamed. But that’s Brody Jenner’s fault

A pit stop meal at Iron Works BBQ
Now, for the record, we hung out productively. We hung out at the LBJ Presidential Library (the animatronic LBJ is, uh, creepy). We hung out in downtown Austin to soak up the vibe, including a brief stop-in one night at a bar where all the patrons hanging out were guys, if you know what I mean. I’m still unclear on who decided on that pit stop. 

We hung out at Iron Works BBQ, an establishment recommended to us by an actual Texan (I now endorse it as well). We hung out at the Paramount Theater and watched Mike Birbiglia tell jokes. We hung out at a bar on Saturday for approximately 9 hours and watched the NFL playoffs. We hung out at the hotel bar and had our eardrums damaged by a local band we fondly started calling Creedleback, and yes, both Creed and Nickleback should take that as an insult.

The mission was painfully simple (meet up, hang out), but we totally nailed it. We’ll run it back in July in Lake Tahoe, too, with a few more Boxer alumni to boot. That weekend will also be a bro’s weekend, but at least I have an answer for my wife when she asks, “Why are you doing this trip to Tahoe again?” It’s our fantasy football draft trip, sweetheart. 

Actually, maybe “we’re just hanging out” isn’t that bad, after all.

Carson '04 worked in radio broadcasting after majoring in Film and Video Production, spending time in both Juneau, Alaska and Southern California.  He left the radio world for government in 2011, moving with his wife to D.C. to work for the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  Two of Carson’s passions (fantasy football and writing) will soon be combined on a regular basis at, a site he’s launching to allow himself to tell his wife he’s “working” while he pours over box scores and training camp reports.