‘Learning How to Speak’: Film and Digital Media’s Capstone Screening

21 films will be screened as a part of the film and digital media capstone film festival, showcasing the diversity of perspectives brought together by the program.

Stories aren’t always told through words.

In the film and digital media program, a fusion of diverse camera angles and carefully crafted scenes are the ingredients for a proper narrative.

Students within the program’s capstone and narrative production classes will have the opportunity to showcase their work at a screening at The Davis Theater on April 29. The screening will show an estimated 21 films, according to Ayesha Abouelazm, director of the film and media program.

Despite being constrained to 10-15 minute runtimes, they offer a kaleidoscope of narratives.

Fourth-year Lily Kaya is involved with seven different films. Kaya said her passion lies within the two films she’s writing and directing.

“We’re learning how to speak and one of the biggest mistakes people make when learning a language is not speaking it out of fear of saying something wrong,” Kaya said of learning cinematography. 

Finding a creative voice through film is a common theme for students. Alex Powell, a fourth-year film and digital media major, said working with video is a way to share meaningful experiences with his peers.

“Making films is a reflection of one’s own experiences,” Powell said. “The filmmakers that are making them, it is distinctly who they are put into the most creative and artistic form of creation.”

Past screenings have taken place at The New 400 Theater, however, its closure in August caused the program to relocate the event to The Davis Theater. 

The new location has increased seating with 147 seats available, Abouelazm said, noting this as a positive change for the program.

While The Davis Theater sees The 400’s closure as a loss, they have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the Loyola film and digital media program, Brittany Ryll, a representative of The Davis Theater, wrote in an email to The Phoenix.

For Powell, moving to The Davis Theater serves as a testament to the growth of the film program. He said the significance of being able to share his project in a movie theater isn’t lost on him — it provides a glimpse of his goals as a filmmaker.  

Echoing a similar sentiment, Kaya said the ability to share projects with peers is how student filmmakers gain confidence.

“That’s one of the biggest gifts that we can have as filmmakers, is to show our work again, even though it’s not perfect,” Kaya said.

Imaan Hasan, a third-year, said her film “Jaan” is inspired by her parents’ love story. In Urdu, “Jaan” means “the person who gives you life,” which is her parent’s nickname for each other. Hasan said as a Muslim and Pakistani couple, her parents met through an online dating site in the ‘90s because they were looking for marriage. 

Third-year Imaan Hasan’s film is based on their parents’ love story. (Image courtesy of Imaan Hasan)

“In our culture that’s really common, where marriage isn’t necessarily something to do with love, but something to do with family building and it’s an economic decision,” Hasan said.

Hasan recalled a moment on set watching her parents give notes to the actors and said she felt like they finally got to see her thrive.

“I think that’s when it clicked,” Hasan said. “That’s when it was like, ‘This is what I’m supposed to be doing.’”

Similarly, Kaya said her moment of self-validation for the filmmaking process occurred during her spring break trip to New York City.

Her film “Out of Reach” tells the story of a long-distance relationship — without showing the characters once. The audience only knows of the couple through voiceover.

In an attempt to escape filming on a rainy, gloomy day, Kaya said she ducked into a cafe. Playing over the speakers was a song that had inspired her film.

“It just felt like I was doing the right thing and I was at the right place at the right time,” Kaya said. “It was a really good sign.”

For Powell, the gratification of directing his film “Division” is seen through the execution of a scene. Powell said witnessing the hard work of the cast and crew illustrates the support he feels for his film. Seeing the encouragement from peers and feeling a sense of community makes a successful film, according to Powell. 

“I think that community aspect at Loyola is something that’s just so special and it is so important to student filmmaking,” Powell said.

Viewing her students more as peers and collaborators makes inspiration a two-way street, Abouelazm said. She said her expertise is to provide students with the tools to make a film. 

Often, her advice comes in the form of advising the director to try different acting, edits and locations, Abouelazm said.

Although Abouelazm is finishing her first year as the director of the film and digital media program, she said she finds satisfaction in the role when she sees her students doubt themselves. 

“I hate to tell them this, but it makes me happy when they fail,” Abouelazm said. “Because when you fail, that’s when you grow.”

The capstone screening is free to all Loyola students at The Davis Theater from 6:30-10:30 p.m. April 29.

Featured image courtesy of Alex Powell

Brianna Guntz

Brianna Guntz