One Year Later: Senior Projects from 2018 See Multiple Film Fest Wins

September 10, 2019 | By James Powers

Every year, JPCatholic is proud to host a theatrical screening of its seniors’ thesis films during the week of Graduation in early September. The completion and screening of this year’s films offers the opportunity to also highlight some of the achievements of those from last year, many of which have been making the rounds through various festivals since their first screening at the school last September. We caught up with three of last year’s films - Andrew Clancy’s “DEAD,” Shannon DiSalle’s “After You,” and Nic Alayo’s “Playing Ourselves” - to see what they have been up to.

“DEAD,” directed by Andrew Clancy, shot by Michael Uyehata, and produced by Tian Kok, is a fantasy-drama that explores the effects of suicide through the perspective of two estranged friends who are reunited as ghosts. The film was officially selected for San Francisco’s Another Hole in the Head genre festival and Michigan’s Sunrise 45 film festival. It won the Orson Welles Award for Best Short Film at this year's California Film Awards and was nominated for Best Writer at the Arizona Short Film Festival. The team are awaiting notification from one more festival, says Kok, after which they will make the film widely available online.

“Playing Ourselves,” directed by Nicolas Alayo, shot by Brigitta Sanchez-O'Brien, and produced by Meghan Woodard, tells the story of a struggling young actor who is forced to confront the hurts of his past when he falls in love with his co-star, and is pushed farther than ever before by an eccentric director. It received the Gold Award for Best Narrative Short at last November’s International Shorts Awards, won Best Male Director (Nicolas Alayo) and Best Supporting Actress (Bruna Matsin) at the Under the Stars Film Festival, and was nominated for Best Short Film at the 2018 Hollywood Verge Film Awards. Like “DEAD,” the film is awaiting one more festival notification and then will be distributed online.

“After You,” directed by Shannon DiSalle, shot by Jacob Hotovy, produced by Erica Kovacic and starring Chris Bradley, is a drama that examines the consequences of sexual violence, both for its victims and those who enable it. The film follows an insecure young man guarding a terrible secret about the rape of the woman he loves, and who must decide whether to tell her and thereby risk losing her. It recently premiered at the I See You Awards in Detroit, MI, where it won 5 total awards in the Student Film category including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cast, Best Soundtrack and the People's Choice Award. This was the first festival screening for the film, with more likely to follow.

The thesis films for the class of 2019, meanwhile, screened Thursday evening to two packed auditoriums at Escondido’s Regal Cinemas, just up the street from JPCatholic. The films spanned genres such as action, horror, sci-fi, and animation, and pulled heavily on talent from both within and without the JPCatholic community. Expect updates in the months to follow of festival submissions, selections and awards for these films as well.