21st-Century Storytelling, in 12 Minutes or Less

May 11, 2011

The inaugural class of the MPS Live Action Short Film Department will present its first film festival, “A Coupla Quickies: An Evening of Short Films About New York” at the SVA Theatre on Saturday, May 14 at 6pm. In advance of the screening, the Briefs sat down with student Ed Caban to hear about his experience in the program.

What drew you to this program?

Firstly, having the chance to work with Bob Giraldi. He’s a legend. Also, I think the fact that it’s production-oriented and geared toward working professionals. I’m a vice-principal at an all-boys high school in the South Bronx.

Has what you learned at SVA impacted your professional life?

Absolutely. I teach media arts at the high school – it’s a program I began there several years ago. I’ve got a passion for storytelling and I want my students to be able to use technology to tell their own stories. I want them to be able to be both competitive and creative in a 21st-century economy.

Tell us a little bit about your film:

In a nutshell, my film is about two lonely people who meet at time in which both are reflecting on their lives and their life choices. But really it’s about how sometimes the people who are supposed to look out for you can actually be more like strangers, and strangers can be turn out to be friends. It’s about how friendship can come from the oddest of places. It centers on what happens during a family gathering when the grandfather, a lonely widower, brings home a new guest for the holidays. My initial tag line for the film was ‘no one took Grandpa seriously until he brought home a prostitute.’ While the final version retains some humorous elements, it definitely became more of a human drama the more I worked on it. I was inspired and motivated to move outside of my comfort zone.

What are some of the challenges of working in the short film form?

It can be a hard process to condense heavy thoughts down to a few minutes and to give emotion to a piece, enough so that the audience can come to care about the characters in a short time span and get immersed in their lives. It’s also tough to achieve closure in less than 12 minutes, but we spent lots of time talking about this in class and Bob gave me great advice. He really kept me on the right track during this whole new experience.

Image: Ed Caban, still from Friends and Strangers

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