At the Linda Vista campus in 2003, El Cid reporter Olivia Hanning wrote this feature story largely drawn from an exclusive interview with recent Academy Award winning alum Cameron Crowe.
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Senior Victoria Valenti recently produced a short film, FACED, revolving around Cathedral Catholic High School students and administration. The five-minute production is being used as part of her application to several film programs at prospective colleges.
The video could’ve had any theme, and been done in any format of filming. The only requirement from the universities was that it must be self-expressive of the producer and could not exceed five minutes.
“At first, I wanted to make a film about the realistic views of Catholic schools, and also judgments and stereotypes. I, personally, have been a victim of bullying and put into stereotypes because of my appearance; I wanted to break that,” said Victoria.
The idea of how her video would be put together actually came to her in the shower later that week.
“This is silly,” she said, “but I had a ‘shower epiphany where I thought about only filming people’s faces and then distorting them so that you would only hear what they were saying and wouldn’t be able to judge them by their appearance.”
Most of the students in the film were from Victoria’s religion class with Mr. Keith Warrick, but others were simply passing by during the time of filming or were friends of Victoria.
“Even though a lot of them came from the same class, every response was completely different; there was not one response that sounded the same.”
When asked why English teacher Mr. Mike Fares was in the video, Victoria said “I needed some wrinkles and wisdom. Everything Mr. Fares says, as ridiculous at it sounds, ends up being true. He’s great.”
She laughed, “Whenever I have detention, I always arrange it on Wednesday with him.”
In the video, Victoria asks the students where they see themselves in ten years.
“I wanted to relate the question the students were asked to my college essay while also incorporating the nostalgic question of ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ In my essay, I talk about how we, young adults, are faced with opportunities and decisions regarding our future.”
In ten years, Victoria looks forward to working with films, hopefully producing.
She knew she wanted to be a film producer when she met director Cameron Crowe, a Don alum, at an art gallery over the summer. (Picture shown)
“He hasn’t grown up at all, he’s like a kid. He was so comfortable to talk to. I can’t even tell you how amazing it was to talk to him. It wasn’t even a star-struck feeling talking to him; it was like I should be talking to him.”
He asked her where she went to high school, and Victoria soon found out that Cameron Crowe himself had attended Uni. They continued to talk about what kind of productions interest Victoria.
“I want to show what’s real. I don’t want to have a fake persona; for example, there are parts in the video where the students didn’t know I was filming. That’s why you could hear their confusion in the beginning. When people are in front of a camera, they act different. It’s not bad, it’s just the way we are. So I’d hit the the record button without them knowing.”
Senior Nina Sousa, who is featured in the film, talks about how she was blessed with such great education opportunities and how she hopes to become a special education teacher in the future.
Nina said, “ I thought the video was such a cool idea and such a cool concept. The video was very creative and interesting, just like Victoria. She’s such a down-to-earth girl, and she always has such cool concepts for different videos and stuff.”
For the editing process, Victoria used Final Cut Express for film, and Live Type for the text.
The hardest part of editing the video was jumbling up the faces and dealing with the sound.
“Some shots have a perfect face, and others don’t. That’s the way I wanted it to be, though, because not everybody is perfect… and I was filming without a microphone and with a lot of background noise, so that was difficult to edit.”
Another challenging aspect of editing the video was cropping it to fit the appropriate five-minute time frame allowed. Victoria ended up cutting some student responses out and shortening others.
“Originally, in the video I wanted the students to say a quote by Pablo Picasso, but that would definitely exceed the time limit, so now the quote is used as the video description.”
The description reads “Are we to paint what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it? What is a face, really? Its own photo? Its make-up? Or is it a face as painted by such or such painter? That which is in front? Inside? Behind? And the rest? Doesn’t everyone look at himself in his own particular way? Deformations simply do not exist. Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror, or the painter? The older you get the stronger the wind gets – and it’s always in your face.”
Victoria commented, “It’s ironic because Pablo Picasso has so many ideas about being “faced” with things and even physical faces in general… when he couldn’t even draw faces properly in the first place!”
The songs in FACED, “Thirty Incoming” and “There is No There”, are both done by the two-person New York City band, The Books. The Books are an instrumental group that uses voice recordings for any lyrics in their songs.
“If you couldn’t tell, the first song actually uses a dial tone of a telephone for the main beat. The Books produce ‘visual’ songs; it makes you want to look into the people’s eyes when they talk. ”
Victoria first heard one of the band’s songs on a HIV/AIDS awareness commercial on TV and immediately fell in love with their music.
“I actually had to edit the music because the first song exceeded five minutes,” she said.
The film ends with the question, “What opportunities have you been faced with?”
Victoria, being pleased with her results, commented, “The music fit perfectly, and even though the faces were different, the message was the same: we all want to be happy and content with our lives in the future.”
You can watch Victoria Valenti’s production of FACED at http://www.vimeo.com/19069165.