Seniors in RISD’s Film/Animation/Video Live-Action Track Share Work in Progress

on set with senior Victoria Kong

“When you watch a film, you have no idea how much work goes into creating the textures you see on screen,” says senior Vivian Kong 23 FAV. “It is painful, humbling work, and everything that can go wrong does go wrong.”

Kong’s hybrid stop-motion/live-action senior degree project, Your Inventor’s Entropic Embrace (see on-set photo, above) is currently in post-production. They are one of 13 seniors in RISD’s Film/Animation/Video (FAV) department working on live-action films with guidance from Assistant Professors Sara Jordenö and Judy Kim 17 FAV

“When you watch a film, you have no idea how much work goes into creating the textures you see on screen.”

Senior Vivian Kong

Kong worked with aerialists at Brown University, tapped Apparel Design major Vitoria Byrne 23 AP for costume design and was mentored by longtime FAV faculty member and experimental filmmaker Bryan Parcival. “Many of our students were inspired by works and methods taught in Bryan’s popular course Experimental Film Techniques,” says Jordenö. “Associate Professor Ramon Rivera-Moret has also been really supportive of their work.”

still from Olivia Schroder film showing closeup of a woman
Olivia Schroder traveled to Wyoming to shoot a documentary about her mother.

Students spent the fall semester exploring, conceptualizing and writing their films and did most of their shooting during Wintersession, many of them in their home cities and countries. Lucas Xie 23 FAV, for example, traveled to Vancouver, Canada to shoot Monk in a Motel; Olivia Schroder 23 FAV headed to Wyoming to create The Moon Hangs Low Over Casper, a documentary-style piece about her relationship with her mother; and Rahul Badoni 23 FAV filmed his visually stunning Curse of the Contemporary in and around Calcutta.

still from Rahul Badoni film filmed in Calcutta
Rahul Badoni filmed most of his project, Curse of the Contemporary, in and around his hometown of Calcutta.

“I grew up in Calcutta and wanted to film at home,” says Badoni. “India is like a completely different planet—the sounds, the smells, the chaos—and you can shoot on just about any street corner.”

Other filmmakers in the class stayed closer to RISD, using local actors and nearby locations like Cape Cod, the Somerville Theatre outside of Boston and the classic roller-skating rink, United Skates of America, in East Providence. “I shot in Cape Cod’s East Wareham on the coldest weekend in history,” says Aiden Kelly 23 FAV. “The bad thing about living on set is that there is no escape. The good thing is that it’s kind of a big sleepover with your crew.”

a hired camera operator on set with student filmmaker Aiden Kelly

still from Aiden Kelly film showing bloody teeth in the bathroom sink
Junior Temilola Matanmi served as cinematographer for Aiden Kelly’s black comedy, Dinner with the Bells, whose plot takes a macabre turn when the main character learns that her seemingly conventional foster parents are, in fact, cannibals.

Daniel Xue 23 FAV also had weather-related problems in shooting Northeasterly Wind, a piece about college-age lovers breaking up during a winter storm. “I planned to shoot it in the snow, and then the whole winter went by without any,” he says. “Every time it started to flurry, all my friends were texting me!”

a snowy still from Daniel Xue film
Daniel Xue had to wait for the weather to shoot this snowy scene on Benefit Street near campus for his film Northeasterly Wind.

For Sung Sung (Parintorn) Suwanpraipatana 23 FAV, who filmed Rank Me in Rhode Island, the issue wasn’t weather but finding a reliable cast. “I had to replace the actor playing my main character so many times, I almost considered CG-ing the part!” she says, jokingly referring to using computer-generated imagery. 

Several students were drawn to analogue film and vintage video. Schroder, Amar Ahmad 23 FAV and David Sanchez Herrera 23 FAV are all producing experimental documentary projects using 16mm film. Gabriel Bellone 23 FAV shot Zoey on celluloid film, which he’s cutting in RISD’s Steenbeck flatbed editing rooms, avoiding the digital space all together. 

still from Suwanpraipatana film showing a woman curling her eyelashes

still from Bella Borgh film showing the protagonist crying
Stills from Rank Me by Sung Sung (Parintorn) Suwanpraipatana (first photo) and Bella Borgh’s Avery, a drama about an actress losing her hearing.

Despite the wide range of subject matter and techniques they’re using, this year’s crop of live action-oriented seniors agrees that overcoming hurdles in production builds camaraderie and leads to stronger final films. “We did the work together,” says Xue, “and it’s all thanks to Judy and Sara, who helped us believe in ourselves and create community.” 

“These students have what it takes: courage, maturity and an extraordinary sensitivity to the world around them.”

Assistant Professor Sara Jordenö

Xue and his classmates are working diligently toward completing their projects and sharing their concepts at the FAV Senior Show, which will be screened in the RISD Auditorium from May 10–13. “Filmmakers need to be able to communicate their artistic vision to others over and over—and manage their stress and sanity in the process,” Jordenö says. “These students have what it takes: courage, maturity and an extraordinary sensitivity to the world around them.”

Simone Solondz

March 30, 2023

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