College students at UH Mānoa’s Academy for Creative Media (ACM) and across the Pacific Ocean at Shanghai University’s School of Film and Television Arts have discovered that filmmaking is truly an international art.
In June and October for the past five years, student filmmakers from both universities have traveled to and from Shanghai and Honolulu as guests of each other’s campuses. In Mānoa, participants in the Student Media Art (SMART) Exchange Program have had their films shown at either the Shanghai International Film Festival or the Hawai‘i International Film Festival, further enriching their experiences as the next generation of career professionals behind the camera.
“This is the only program internationally where students from both programs make films together in China and Hawai‘i,” said ACM Chair Tom Brislin. “Just as important is the fact that both film festivals have a dedicated program for student films.”
For senior Lana Dang, one of six ACM students who participated in the program this past summer, the exchange program experience was life-changing. On first enrolling at UH Mānoa, Dang thought she’d follow in her father’s footsteps as an engineer, since she was particularly strong in math and science and her reasoning skills were impeccable. After her fifth semester, however, Dang had a change of heart and enrolled in ACM.
For three weeks, Dang and her classmates worked alongside counterparts from Shanghai University to produce three short films. “The exchange program forces participants to stretch personal boundaries and, in many cases, opens a student’s eyes as an artist,” she said. “Shooting a film is a very stressful yet invigorating experience. Now add the element of filming in a different country where the majority of the crew speaks a different language and you can multiply that experience by ten.”
During their stay in China, the Hawai‘i students also learned that “filmmaking in Hawaii is not that different from filmmaking in China—especially when it comes to working on a student film. Everything is so chaotic and disorganized, but at the same time very freeing and liberating,” added Dang.
ACM Professor Anne Misawa glows with pride at her students’ progress in 21 short days. “These are transformative experiences for the students,” said Misawa. “I have seen them blossom, not only as filmmakers, but as individuals who gain greater confidence and self-knowledge about what they want to do with their talents and how they want to contribute and interact with their global community.”
Top photo:On the set of BLIND LUCK–Zhengyu Pan and actor Dongqing Su from Shanghai University from check out the video with director Laurie Arakaki (center) and cinematographer Reynolds Barney, both from ACM.