The subject matter for the third annual USDtv Short Film Fest on Tuesday night consisted of one personal account of surviving Hurricane Katrina, one Charlie Chaplin-style production and one music video parody done by a student during an Intersession study abroad trip in Hong Kong.
Jaleesa Johnson, who is not a USD student but now resides in San Diego after growing up in the New Orleans and relocating to Houston after Katrina, earned the open event’s grand prize, a $100 gift card, for “Democrazy! Inside Hurricane Katrina.”
In her first-person video account, Johnson, 19, spoke about her experience of surviving the deadly hurricane that began on Aug. 29, 2005, wreaking havoc on several Gulf Coast cities, caused an estimated 1,500 deaths and accrued billions in damage that seven years later remains visibly noticeable. She and her family were among many people who sought shelter in the New Orleans Superdome, which sustained damage to its roof and later, became a place that left an indelible mark on Johnson, who was age 12 at the time.
“I felt completely hopeless. I reached my peak of depression from my entire experience there at the Superdome,” she said in the seven-minute video. “That feeling of hopelessness and abandonment dragged on throughout middle school and high school and it wasn’t until my senior year when I began taking government and economics course that I began to make the connection and I would see that there was this link between the structure of politics and the news and what I had experienced there as a child. I began to acknowledge how Katrina had displaced me not only physically, but psychologically and emotionally, and, I mean, in every possible way I’d become this new person.”
As powerful as Johnson’s words were in her video, USD junior Delaney Kepple’s short, “The Dirty Chase,” brought a sense of levity and creativity into play.
Utilizing both work and classmates from the Communication Studies major’s class, Small Group Communication with Professor Leeva Chung, Kepple’s presentation was an “out of the box” homage to the Chaplin era of quirky, fast-action fun with a story about the “search” for a character.
Kepple, who got interested in the technical side of filmmaking in middle school, has maintained her passion while attending USD. She mentioned that she’s currently working on a final project in her Small Group course, filming a public service announcement for Donate Life California to raise awareness for more organ donors. She’s also involved with USD’s Torero Program Board and said she plans to film at Thursday’s Ole Music Festival at the Jenny Craig Pavilion for promotional purposes.
The final short was a song parody of The Lonely Island’s “I’m on a Boat,” with lyrics created by USD students Travis Weger and Amir Atefi and calling it, “I’m in Hong Kong.” It basically follows Weger, Atefi and others exploring Hong Kong and lip-syncing the words of their parody.
It was, Weger said, a chance to have some fun while in Hong Kong for the Business Environment in Asia course. Weger, who is a graduating senior in Communication Studies, said he has been making videos through his iPhone and continues to experiment with video presentations as an intern with a local San Diego advertising agency.
In addition to Film Fest, USDtv station manager Yasamin Shoriz, a junior sociology major, presented two USDtv programs. An episode of “Chowdown” and one of the most popular regular shows on the on-campus station, “Rumor Has It.” The latter episode showcased seven USD students who traveled to New York City’s Times Square earlier this spring to attend the College Media Association’s national conference.
USDtv produces original student programming, including a standard news show, an events-oriented program called “The Scoop,” and covers student government meetings and more. The student media organization, which is advised by Communication Studies Professor Eric Pierson, has a Facebook page, is on Twitter @USDtv and videos can be viewed on Vimeo.
— Ryan T. Blystone