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.

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