And the feedback from the professors and workshop lecturers confirmed this. Anne D’Zmura, Chair of the Department of Film & Electronic Arts at CSULB, was moved by the short stories and said to the students: 'They are sharp, intense insights into your psyches. This is a universal experience for lots of people and the videos are great metaphors for those closed-off worlds we have been living in.'
Thomas Oswald described the resulting videos as eclectic little films and was touched by the way the students opened a window into their worlds. ‘It was a joy to see what could be achieved in such a short period of time and it was also a real pleasure to work with Andrew and Elyusha.’ Andrew Pearson also had great admiration for the students’ work: ‘It is always daunting to open up to people you have only just met. Your hard work has really paid off.’ And Elyusha Vafaeisefat added: ‘The work is extremely relatable. The frustration and anxiety expressed in the videos capture the emotions that so many people can relate to.’
Online workshop – a piece of the puzzle
And so, another film workshop becomes a piece of the bigger puzzle that is the longstanding cooperation and friendship between HAW Hamburg and CSULB. Or as Wolfgang Willaschek puts it: ‘These workshops are the umbilical cord that ensures the contact across the oceans doesn’t break until we can see each other again in person.’ Kent Hayward, who has made and continues to make so much possible for film students on both sides of the Atlantic, describes online workshops as ‘jumping into a swimming pool in the dark.’ But at the end of the day, he adds: ‘Film-making is about problem-solving and it has been really cool to see the students working together. They created a quilt of juxtaposed ideas. That is what cinema is all about.’
For Andrew and Elyusha it was the first time working with HAW Hamburg and they were both impressed. ‘We learned from the students as much as they may have learned from us. Their work was truly motivating, impressive and inspiring. Elyusha adds: ‘These types of workshops are important not only for networking and learning during these difficult times but also giving students the platform to express themselves through art. To push students to their limits and to challenge them. We see that even in an online format, we can still share our stories and ideas. Film-making as an artform continues to evolve and we must evolve with it.’
Text: Ingrid Weatherall
Thanks: This joint virtual workshop would not have been possible without the extremely hard work and support of Martina Hentig, Andreas Rippert and Ole Christiansen, academic and student assistants of the Media Technology Production Lab at the HAW Hamburg Campus Finkenau. We are extremely grateful.
The university cooperation is an important part of the 'HAW goes USA' strategy. Since 2017 the film exchange between HAW Hamburg and CSULB has been recognised by the Germany Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as a strategic partnership. HAW Hamburg receives ISAP-funding for scholarships and travel grants. www.daad.de/isap This workshop was made possible by this funding.
HAW goes USA strategy:www.haw-hamburg.de/hawgoesusa
Thomas Oswald (Hamburg) is a cinematographer, director of photography and film-maker. Since studying at the HfbK Hamburg with Wim Wenders, he has taken on the image design for a wide range of projects, from documentaries to commercial projects to experimental works. Thomas loves variety. Each project is unique and requires a new approach. What is always consistent, however, is Thomas's empathetic eye and love of images. In addition to his work as a cinematographer, Thomas develops and produces his own feature-length documentaries: thomas-oswald.com
Andrew Pearson (CSULB) earned his MFA in Cinematography at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts (2018) and his BA in Film Production at California State University Long Beach (2010). In addition to teaching at CSULB, Andrew works as a freelance cinematographer, camera operator and camera assistant. He is an avid cinephile. He has worked as a director of photography on a variety of film projects from documentaries to narrative short films, music videos and promotional spots.
Elyusha Vafaeisefat (CSULB) is a producer, film-maker and educator. In addition to teaching at CSULB, Elyusha has taught film-making and media studies courses at UCLA and other colleges. He has produced feature films, short films, documentaries, commercials and music videos. He has also worked in story development, marketing, international sales and distribution for several studios and production companies, such as REVELATIONS ENTERTAINMENT, UNIVERSAL STUDIOS and J.J. Abrams' BAD ROBOT. Additionally, he has consulted on and co-developed projects for NETFLIX and ESPN's acclaimed '30 for 30' series. Elyusha is a graduate of CSULB and UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television.
Team 1: Christopher Ho (CSULB), Tam Trinh (CSULB) and Oliver Hermes (HAW)
Team 2: Sarah Naumann (HAW), Ahmad Hamamah (HAW), Fanny Dzierzon (HAW) and Chris Padron (CSULB)
Team 3: Jaqueline Hatje (HAW), Anthony Torres (CSULB) and Gregory Dahlquist (CSULB)