It’s Friday at the Pima Community College digital arts department. Post production is down to the wire. Technically, films should be finished today.
One student sits in front of a computer, modifying sound for the film “Todas Almas” while director Jesse Powell watches over his shoulder. As the film begins to play on the screen the sound man clarifies there is still work to be done.
“Just keep in mind the audio’s not done on it,” he says.
Powell jokingly shouts at him.
“You got 20 minutes, 15!” Then with an air of resignation, he says, “We’re coming in on Sunday.”
Over the weekend Powell, as well as Grant Hunker, the director of “Estaban’s Ride,” will put the final touches on their films, preparing for Pima’s screening this Saturday and Sunday. The screening is the culmination of a semester’s work for Pima’s digital arts students. About 30 short films will be showcased alongside the features “Estaban’s Ride” and “Todas Almas.”
“Estaban’s Ride” follows the struggle of a son coming to terms with his father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. In “Todas Almas,” a woman is reunited with her dead husband through an All Soul’s Day tradition of writing letters to the dead. While the films’ plots are very different, they share a common thread.
“They are (companion films) in the sense that they encapsulate different feelings of the Southwest,” Powell says. “We brought the culture that we experience here in Tucson and southern Arizona and put those feelings into the films.”
Both films are collaborative works of the 2008-09 Pima digital arts program. At the beginning of the school year, the scripts for “Estaban’s Ride” and “Todas Almas” were presented to students and they were allowed to apply for positions on the production team.
“They gave us two scripts that were workable, within our means of making a film and set the task for us to take over,” Powell says. “We were basically given a script. Then they said, ‘Go for it!’ ”
Both Hunker and Powell were eager to have the opportunity to direct their respective films.
“Estaban’s (story) I knew right away,” Hunker says. “When I grew up my grandfather had Alzheimer’s. It’s sad to lose that connection with someone you love. You’re not sure what’s going on with that person, and it’s hard to imagine what they’re going through.”
For Powell, it was a love of tradition that connected him to “Todas Almas.”
“I grew up in between Arizona and Mexico so I have ties to that culture,” he says. “I felt that I could communicate the ideas of the (All Souls Day) holiday through this film.”
After filling out applications and essays, Hunker and Powell were chosen as the directors of the films.
Together with the rest of the students, the directors spent the first semester focusing on aspects of pre-production such as casting and shooting. In the fall, their focus shifted to post-production aspects of film such as editing and cutting. Students from the entire department participated according to their area of interest or specialty.
“The whole department is intertwined in this production and that’s what’s really cool,” Powell says. “You’re working with your friends. You know what to expect from people. It turns into a family with this program.”
IF YOU GO
What: Pima Community College Digital Video and Film Arts Screening
When: 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: PCC Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre, West Campus, 2202 W. Anklam Road