Students Films

Spring 2016 – a collaborative production between film students in Ethiopia & film students at NOVA

“Final Exam” was featured at the

3rd Annual NOVA Student Film Festival


Fall 2015 productions in Ethiopia:

In October 2015 I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to go and teach film in Ethiopia. I conducted a “from script to screen” film directing workshop in addition to teaching film history, theory and criticism; all in 45 intensive days 🙂 Here are 2 of the films that my Ethiopian film students made:

Ye Goma Werat  7:17 minutes | Drama | Ethiopia |Director: Michael Shimelis
Car accidents are a leading cause of death in Ethiopia. This tale juxtaposes a child’s respect for safety and the rule of law against that of adult drivers.

Qanafaa 9:50 minutes | Drama | Ethiopia |Director: Bayisa Tura & Sagni Dibisa
A man, who beat his wife, is put on trial by the entire village. He must make amends not only to his wife, but to all of the women of the village.

Spring 2015 productions:

The Film Collaborative International (FCI) is proud to present its 2nd batch of film students’ work; films were written, directed, produced and edited by NOVA Alexandria film students, members of FCI.

Here are the Spring 2015 films line up:

Film Collaborative Productions:

CALICO    2:31 minutes | Experimental | USA I Directing Student: Zachary Tredwell – An experimental film which showcases the familiar concepts of loss and attainment.

FLAMENCO    8:29 minutes | Drama | USA I Directing Student: Colin Stucki – A Flamenco guitarist and a dancer, who take their craft seriously…too seriously perhaps, are preparing for their final performance.

Alexandria Film Students Productions: (Independently made)

LITTLE “F”    10:04 minutes I Drama I USA I Director: Ricardo Villalba – “Little F” is the story of a young man who is confronted with the memories of sexual abuse by his stepfather.

WAR    1:08 minutes I Experimental I USA I Director: Erblin Nushi – “War” is about identity and the questions that we have about the things we know and don’t and making the usual and unusual.

FRAGMENTS OF INSANITY    5:25 minutes | Drama | USA I Director: Austin Harple – A man begins to experience terrifying nightmares that may hold the key to something within.

UNCLE & SON    14:19 minutes | Drama | Vietnam I Director: Anh Nguyen – Left to be cared for by his uncle, a boy is confronted with many issues, including the village gossip.

BRUNELLA      4:04 minutes | Experimental | USA I Director: Yuri Hashimoto & Ali EL -Brunella lives in this black and white, silent and surrealistic world that she created. She doesn’t understand what is going on as she is taken from one place to another, unwillingly.


FCI is gearing up for Spring 2015 productions. Students are currently in the pre-production phase of various productions. In the meantime, Colin Stucki, film student and member of the Film Collaborative International, warmed up his editing skills with a short promo for the 2nd annual NOVA Student Film Festival. Stay tuned for more!


Spring 2014 productions:

The Film Collaborative International (FCI) is proud to present its first series of student films; films were written, directed, produced and edited by NOVA Alexandria film students, members of FCI.  My objective for 2014 was 2-fold: 1) promote the film classes I teach; 2) have students of the collaborative work on film projects.  So, I decided to have my students, who had already taken most of these film classes, select a film class and come up with a creative idea to make a short film to promote it. They had creative control (I just had to occasionally remind them that we are a state institution 🙂 )

Here is a behind the scenes look at the making of the films from the 2014 film directing workshops:

I am especially proud of these student screenwriters/directors/producers, as they are the first batch of film students that came out since I joined NOVA!

Here are the Spring 2014 films line up:

CST 151 Film Appreciation I – Timmy’s Turmoil : Screenplay by Erik Zottnick; Directed by Niia Atkinson; Produced by Tatiana Galtzin

CST 140 Acting for the Camera : Screenplay by Alex Pino; Directed by David Sellner; Produced by Tatiana Galitzin

CST 120 Screenwriting – Dreams : Screenplay by Niia Atkinson; Directed by Erik Zottnick ; Produced by Santino Fernandez (please watch until very end; story continues past credits)

CST 295 Film Directing : Screenplay by David Sellner; Directed by Alex Pino; Produced by Tatiana Galitzin


CST 295 Film Directing students took the “Happy” challenge and here are the results:

The assignment:

It all started when I assigned my Film Directing students a group project: do a music video for “Happy” by Pharell Williams. Instructions for the project are as follows:

  • All members of the group have to contribute to the creative collaboration
  • They have ask and convince (2) faculty members; at least (1) administrator; and (2) staff members to take part in the music video.
  • The students that they pick to be in the video have to represent the diversity of the Alexandria campus student body
  • The video has to have a narrative

In short, the goal of the project is so that they learn to collaborate on creative work, as our young generation has turned filmmaking, a communal art form into and an individual art form. This is one of the many ways I try to undo the damage; God forbid, force them to work together 🙂

The other goal is to have them go outside their comfort zone and instead of just recruiting the usual suspects, their fellow students, for the projects, they learn to approach and convince people that are in authority positions to get involved in their projects. Part of building their filmmakers muscles!

Many, many, videos have been made of this song “Happy”. In fact it has become a global phenomenon (remote villages in Africa have made their own interpretations, really!) When I assigned the song to my beloved Alexandria students, their reaction: Oh no, not hat song again! Mind you this is a “Happy” song; but not to my students. When inquiring further about the reason for this cynical reaction from these youngens, they stated that “the song just irritated” them,  they “heard it too much”; “it’s just too Happy”.
So I put them to the challenge and asked them to use their creativity to come up with a music video for this song, with their own interpretation that would express their sentiments. I gave them creative freedom (God help me!)

The result:

3 student groups shot their videos, which was not up to standard (in my humble opinion), so I asked to to go back to the drawing board. But since I don’t believe in wasting good footage, I asked them to pick some of the footage from all 3 videos and edit it together as one music video.

This was the result of the combined footage:

The “Happy” challenge – NOVA Alexandria

For their final project, students decided to shoot another video combining their directing, acting, videography, producing and storytelling talents, as one group; here is the result:

The Happy Bear Song