National Film Festival Awards Mesa Students

Christopher Bengtsson

Proud award winners and placed 3rd at the BestFest America Film Festival 2006.

Christopher Bengtsson

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Mesa College students Victor Garcia and Samuel Dent did not even know if they were going to finish on time.

Although facing both logistical problems and a near catastrophe that could have spelled an early departure for the two, their rap video “I Have a Dream” won third place at the BestFest America Student Film Festival 2006, one of America’s largest student film festivals.

“Dave Larsen (the BestFest Executive Director) told us that everyone was talking about our video because it was so emotional,” said Dent.

Despite the buzz in the jury, Garcia and Dent were surprised about the high placing in one of America’s largest student film festivals.

The aspiring film students barely made the deadline because of an unfortunate hard drive failure in the late editing process.

“We thought it was the end of the world,” said Dent.

The two friends decided to toughen up and ride it out.

“We stood up for a double all-nighter, putting three weeks of editing into two days,” said Dent.

For 24 hours the film students did not leave their computer in the kitchen area at Dent’s home.

“We weren’t sleeping at all,” said Garcia.

Dent and Garcia managed to stay awake by focusing on the mission at hand, and by talking to each other.

Garcia said “No Red Bull, no coffee, no Coke.”

After having blitzed through the editing and completing the production, the duo still faced one last hurdle. They went to the wrong place to drop their contribution off. Dent and Garcia assumed the BestFest committee was based at the La Jolla Contemporary Arts Museum where the award ceremony was going to be held. In reality the headquarters was located Downtown.

“We actually thought we weren’t turning it in,” said Garcia.

After having explained the mishap with the hard drive the jury agreed to accept their contribution one day late.

The film students came in touch with the three-day film festival through a booth stand at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. They brought the idea to their teacher, Mesa Academy Program Coordinator Michael Temple.

They needed a counselor for the project and Temple was the obvious choice.

“He was pushing us to do the film,” said Garcia.

The next step was to contact rap artist Kid Kill and asking him to collaborate with them for their contribution.

“Kid Kill told us to go to the Boys and Girls Club (a Linda Vista after-school program) since they had a music studio,” said Garcia.

The Mesa filmmakers were welcomed at the Boys and Girls Club by their old high school friend, Dominique Gilbert, who was more than happy to help them with the rap video.

“We were thinking of making a typical music video at first; boy, girls, a car, whatever,” said Dent.

Gilbert then pitched the idea to use the kids of the after-school program and their affiliate for teenagers, the Teen Center.

Dent said. “When we saw the kids it immediately clicked, we had to do it there.”

Garcia and Dent scheduled to shoot for about a month. It dragged out to become two and a half months of filming.

The initial idea was to stage a rap show. That concept had to be canned since it proved difficult to gather all the children at once for that type of filming.

The solution was to schedule individual sessions with each child and teenager that would appear in the video.

“(The best part for me) was seeing the kids enjoy it (filming),” said Dent. “Being able to give back to the community that didn’t give much to me.”

The kids were able to keep with the scheduled sessions better than Kid Kill himself, whose occasional tardiness contributed to the extended time of shooting.

Gilbert pulled through for the shoot with his experience with the children.

“He was keeping the kids calm when they got rowdy or too excited,” said Garcia. “If it wasn’t for him, it would have taken twice the time.”

Since Dent and Garcia’s filming was a non-profit project they didn’t have to worry about funds. They went to their former multimedia teacher at Kearny High School, Rick Corlett, who lent them their equipment for free. Garcia and Dent refer to him as their ultimate mentor who also helped them with the editing.

Dent and Garcia have just finished a documentary for the San Diego School District promoting Project Based Learning. PBL is a new style of educating where the teacher is not necessarily leading the students from the front of the classroom.

“Our job was to capture that,” said Garcia.

In the future, both the Boys and Girls Club and the San Diego School District want to do more collaborations together with Garcia and Dent.

“We’re all over the place,” said Dent.

This year’s BestFest America Student Film Festival was held at the La Jolla Contemporary Arts Museum from July 28-30.

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