Filmmaker Magazine recently unveiled its annual roundup of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film, and CalArtians Hannah Peterson (Film/Video MFA 2018) and Richard Van (Film/Video MFA 2018) were included on the 2018 list.
The magazine focused on Van’s 2017 short film, Audition, which is about a single mother auditioning for a role of a single mother. While she nails the audition, her child wails in the background. During the filming, the scene turned out to be so real and so loud that Van had to reshoot the following week in order to adjust the mother’s reactions. When describing Van’s improvisational directing style, Filmmaker mentions the CalArts alum alongside two renowned artists:
The working method Van developed during his just-completed MFA at CalArts is not dissimilar to the improvisational practices of Mike Leigh or John Cassavetes, whose scripts developed in close collaboration with performers as they found their own way through beats and script arcs. “I write the script and rehearse it a few times,” Van notes, “but once the actors get a feel for the script, we can go away from it and allow the scene to naturally come about. There’s a lot of improvisation.”
Hieu, the director’s CalArts thesis film, is currently looking to finalize its premiere, and draws upon Van’s background as a Vietnamese American.
Peterson’s thesis film, East of the River, was also cited by Filmmaker. The short follows teenaged Teonna (Ayiana T. Davis) as she spends a day hanging out with friends after being unexpectedly suspended. From the magazine: “Their desultory hanging is captured in handsomely composed widescreen frames that don’t stifle the vibrancy of the very real teenagers onscreen. Peterson doesn’t force a dramatic arc onto this wasted day: No lessons are learned or major changes experienced. Despite some low-key tensions, River chooses experiential immersion over artificial conflict.”
Through her work, Peterson melds interests in documentary with fiction; and like filmmaker Sean Baker, who hired Peterson as a production assistant on his last film, The Florida Project, she wants to continue to use first-time actors in real-life settings.
View Peterson’s East of the River trailer below, or head to the CalArts Showcase page for the full film.