One student’s film examines social dislocation; another’s peers into identity difficulties. These two Loyola Marymount University filmmakers approached big social issues by examining personal impacts. Their storytelling skills, honed at LMU’s School of Film and Television, resulted in two different kinds of films that open viewers to unexpected points of view.
Hanna Bowens, who will begin her senior year as a film production major, and Tracy Ip, who graduated in May 2013 with a degree in film production and minor in film studies, presented their films during the spring 2013 Undergraduate Research Symposium. Ip’s film, “Running Ghost,” is a narrative film from her own script that looks at the struggles of a bicultural young man in ever-changing Hong Kong. Bowens’ documentary, “Mhóir Than a Game,” examines the an Irish island community’s struggle to maintain their soccer club amid changes brought on by emigration due to economic necessity.
“Both Tracy and Hanna show passion for the craft of filmmaking,” said Michaela Lavick, professor of film and television production and adviser to Bowens and Ip. “They uniquely show contemporary dilemmas and they use their craft to beautifully tell the story and make it accessible, in a sensible way, to a larger audience.”
Running Ghost (excerpt)
Ip, an American of Chinese heritage, did her research during the writing of her script and before she traveled to Hong Kong to start filming. “I interviewed Chinese immigrants of my parents’ generation,” she said. “So, I had that basis to go off of to write my script.”
Ip spent a summer break in Hong Kong casting the parts. “It was interesting because I think the way I work as a director, as an American director as opposed to a Chinese director, it’s a lot different … we sort of learned to work together as a team, because I don’t think they trusted me until we started shooting.” She shot her film with a Sony FS100, and had a crew of four: a cinematographer, a sound mixer/boom operator/sound editor and sound designer, an editor/script supervisor/production assistant, and a producer.
Mhóir Than a Game (trailer)
Bowens, whose film earned the Audience Honorable Mention Award at the 2013 Chicago Irish Film Festival, had an emotional as well as intellectual attachment to her story. “I don’t think it’s ever easy to tell someone else’s story,” she said, “because you really have to be careful that you’re doing them justice. But I think in my case, with this soccer film, I think the easy part of it was making it relatable from something like a huge issue like economic crisis – making it relatable to the level of a sports team.” She also has a couple of distant cousins on the island of Arranmore, giving her a family tie, too.
She filmed on her own Canon 60D, with a crew of two: one did the sound recording and the other helped out with the camera. She used a Zeiss Superspeed Prime lens, due to a lot of low-light situations and a lot of outdoor shooting.
Both student directors acknowledge that the education and experience they’ve gained at LMU has been vital to their success. “The most important thing is because our production major, in particular, you have to take classes in every aspect of production, recording arts, screenwriting, etc.,” Ip said. “You know how all the jobs are situated on a team, so you’re better able to communicate with your crew members.”
Added Bowens, “My favorite part about LMU’s film program is the emphasis they put on telling the story. I think people can get carried away with how a film looks, or with the end affect they want to get from it. You can lose sight of the story.”