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Sunday, December 10, 2023

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SDSU film production student Aidan Hayek and his crew celebrate after wrapping up production on his film, “Kill Me on Camera." SDSU film production student Aidan Hayek and his crew celebrate after wrapping up production on his film, “Kill Me on Camera."

SDSU's Howling Halloween Film Festival Showcases Students' Work

San Diego State University film students are bringing the best of short film students projects this Halloween night.
By Paulina Castellanos Wade

This Halloween night, San Diego State University’s School of Theater, Television and Film will screen the best of its Halloween-themed projects. The 8th edition of the Howling Film Festival Features 11 students’ short films from different courses and years.


Richard Underwood, lecturer in the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, was among the professors in charge of choosing the final cut of films for the festival. He expects this holiday will not only serve the filmmakers to view their films but for the community to enjoy the variety of movies offered by students, keep student projects alive outside the classroom and relive their efforts and ideas on the big screen.


“This screening's highest calling is to entertain the theme of the holiday,” said Underwood. 


“This is a night not just for our film students but for our campus community as a whole,” Underwood said. “We would hope to have students, faculty members and anyone that has an interest in SDSU and Halloween present. Maybe it is one of those things that would make this season’s Halloween memorable and safe.”


Students make their film from scratch, a full semester project. Stories were pitched and the same class voted to work on the films that they gravitated to the most. They spent the first few months of class selecting their crew, actors, designers and directors for the project. After selecting the film, they have to create a budget and shooting schedule. They are also required to create marketing and social media content to promote the film. After the film is shot in the middle of the semester, editing begins.


Aidan Hayek, a student majoring in film production, will have his short film “Kill Me on Camera,'' as the opening film of the night. In the eight-minute film, unfolding on the night a mysterious horror movie is released, three theater employees share scary stories. Through these stories, the night transforms into an urban legend itself.  


Hayek took advantage of his job at a movie theater to the film’s theme and used it as a shooting location. The film had the collaboration of an all-SDSU TFM student crew. 


“The experience of shooting this was the first big crew that I ever worked with," Hayek said. “I feel like a lot of my experience comes in screenwriting stories, but not so much in directing, this was a good opportunity for me to work on my directing and leadership skills.”


Another film featured at the screening is “Arabella.” Lucia Ledesma, its director, graduated from SDSU last spring as a film production major. The 14-minute film narrates the story of a young woman who immerses herself in the themes of trauma, reconciliation with oneself and resilience. Ledesma co-wrote and produced the film along with Elisa Jones, another SDSU film student.


The film Arabella was just announced as an award winner and nominee for The Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, an IMDB competition. The film was also featured on the Indie Short Fest website and selected to screen at San Diego Film Week.


Despite the problems faced by the crew, such as equipment damage, last-minute changes of the lead actress, and 15 people traveling between SDSU and the shooting location in the Anza Borrego desert, the film was completed in five days of shooting.


“I was thankful to be with people I love, everyone made the process a good time,” said Ledesma. “I couldn't have done it without my amazing crew.”


This annual event is looked forward to by TFM students as a fall semester tradition. A Valentine's Day Love Festival is also held in the spring semester. 


Tickets and information:

The Howling Halloween Film Festival screening is at 7:30 p.m., Oct 31 at the new Main Stage Theatre. Tickets may be purchased online.