Short Film Festival, Hanhai go to school

September 02 2015,

By Hezi Jiang in New York(China Daily USA)

The Los Angeles International Short Film Festival will collaborate with Hanhai Studio, the first Chinese creative production and technology incubator in the US, by creating a film academy at the studio's facility in Burbank, California.

"We reached out to them (Hanhai Studio) a month ago, and things moved quickly," said Robert Arentz, founder of the LA Shorts Fest. "We signed the agreement and moved to the space about a week ago. And now we are meeting teachers and instructors."

Robert Arentz(Left), Founder of the LA Shorts Fest; Kelly Zhang, COO of Hanhai Studio

Robert Arentz(Left), Founder of the LA Shorts Fest; Kelly Zhang, COO of Hanhai Studio

The first course, titled Parlaying Your Short Into a Feature, will be offered in October.

Founded by Arentz in 1997, LA Shorts Fest is one of the most prestigious international short film festivals in the world and the only with seven award categories recognized by the Academy Awards.

It started with a series of short films projected onto a wall on a quiet weekday night in a club, where people had to stand up and watch the films. Now it boasts a 265-film lineup at the Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live, adjacent to the Staples Center.

The purpose of the festival is to encourage young filmmakers, many of whom are students, to improve their craft.

"You can't look at the great filmmakers of today and look at their first two films and say, 'Wow! This filmmaker is destined for greatness. This filmmaker is going to be the next Steven Spielberg,' " said Arentz. "Filmmaking is a craft. It's developed over time. It's learned by doing it again and again."

The experience of seeing one's film on a big screen before an audience motivates the filmmakers to persevere. It's a way to tell young artists that the low-budget guerrilla-style film they put all their time and efforts is not all there is.

That's also why the LA Shorts Fest decided to found the LA Shorts Film Academy with Hanhai Studio, to help talented filmmakers get to the next level.

The program will offer a variety of courses, including producing, directing, script-writing, documentary, narrative and animation. Master class, short-term training and a US-China exchange program also will be offered to meet China-Hollywood market needs.

For this year's festival, from Sept 3-10, more than 30 films from China were submitted, with more shorts sent by Chinese filmmakers studying or starting a career in the US.

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"It's about time China connects its creative production and technology with Hollywood," Wang Hanguang, chairman of Hanhai Zhiye, wrote to China Daily. "Chinese movie producers and directors are enthusiastic about making movies to introduce China's rich history and culture to the West, especially Hollywood, and many are trying to connect and learn directly from producers, directors and cinematographers from Hollywood."

"There is much more to get excited about in terms of the partnership," Arentz said. "And we are thinking of opening something in China."