California Dreaming On Such a Winter's Day

California is a magical land. It's not just the wonderful people and near commune like mind set. Or the absolutely amazing landscape. Or the thriving and sparking film industry. Or the brisk, clean ocean. It is a culmination of a lot of things. A lot of things that, as I make the journey West each time, always comes down to a feeling of some sort of American pioneer-ism, following in the footsteps of others dreams (of gold, land, sea, stardom, freedom, all kinds of things). I love it. So much possibility and so much beauty. So, when Brent & I headed out to Monterey on Monday all of these things came rushing at me at once in this awesome wave that continued for the whole, inspiring trip (even after the airplane's best efforts to ruin it with one of the worst movies ever made)!

Brent & I headed out to the California State University at Monterey Bay to present some of Brent's short films and host a screening of Gravity for the students and local community. The location of this campus is kind of insane, nestled on the edges of agriculture, beach$ide development$ and an extreme miltary presence, CSUMB draws in all kinds of students for all kinds of reasons. I gushed about the school's TAT (Teledramatic Arts and Technology) program earlier but, after seeing it in all of it's glory in person, I am going to again! Especially since, aside from specializing in all things film, the program really does a ton of incedible outreach.

The first screening/talk Brent did was mostly to a group of students from a local alternative/at-risk (which is a distinction I hate making, these kids are strong and beyond!) high school that are all involved in a teen filmmaking program sponsored by TAT that urges them to tell their stories through creative not destructive means. The students were all seriously awesome and, after the screening, when I heard a tough little girl in her snappy Latina accent say, "They are always trying to recruit us for the military, we should shoot movies not guns, man," It was like a crazy scene from some bad 80s movie that, like those 80s movies, made me tear up a bit! The idea that a few kids were able to see a new kind of future from some cartoons Brent made in our little room in Pennsylvania and a group of dedicated teachers urging them that they can be more couldn't be any more fulfilling! (Tears up a little bit.)

Apart from the social work TAT does the program also acts as a regular film school too with such highlights as holding fests at the end of the year schowcasing graduating student's work, broadcasting a tv & radio station on campus running student made work, making equipment readily available and offering up great facilities (green screens! a black box theater! editing rooms! oh my!).  All this plus the fact that they cover your standard Hollywood fare in addition to things like Gravity & Travis Wilkerson- amazing! A college department with heart and creativity providing experiences above & beyond most film schools? Hell yes! I hope this program keeps on thriving like it should and more and more people start to recognize this place as a destination for studying film! Also: did I mention the school's mascot is an Otter since wild sea otters live nearby in the Bay? O yes. There were otters. Adorable, nimble, teddy bears of the sea! Go Monterey Bay!



Donna K. is a recent transplant to the Midwest where she can be found exploring culture at large through film programming, writing and her general interest in the world- both on and offline.