This is apparently the season for Entertainment Business Management projects to win big at American festivals. First the Compendium project The Little Mermaid took the top student prize at Screamfest LA, the same festival that launched Paranormal Activity. And now, alumna Sandra Rojas Gonzalez‘s final project, Growing Up Julianne, has been named “Best Fantasy” at The International Student Film Festival Hollywood. (The film was scripted by Writing for Film & Television grad, Nuno Soler.)
Sandra took the time to answer some questions and talk about her career.
Take us back to your time in Entertainment Business Management. How did you decide on a film for your final project?
Sandra: To be honest, the project changed into a film a few weeks before going to picture; it started as a pilot for a web series. I knew the kind of story and lead character I wanted to create, since I have always loved to tell stories that leave a positive message, and I wanted to bring back a strong female role to the media. I just didn’t know the best way to present it, since must of my background experience comes from advertising and live events. But after working and producing Compendium Vol. 1 and watching the reception it got, I realized I wanted to do a film but I didn’t want to leave behind the concept for a series. After talking with Nick Humphries (my mentor for the project), he suggested the idea of shooting a short film of 10 minutes that, in the future, if I still wanted to procede with the series, I could break down into 3 short episodes.
How did you get in contact with director Juan Reidinger and writer Nuno Soler?
Sandra: When Nick and I talked about possible directors, we both agreed that the candidate needed to be someone creative and eager to work in the fantasy genre. Nick suggested Juan because he knew he was looking for a fantasy story to direct. So I contacted him, and he liked the concept and was really eager to come on board. I met Nuno on Compendium Vol. 1 when he wrote the script for the short film Patsy Tomkins and I did. I loved his style since the begining and his creativity just blew my mind. So in the meeting before our shooting of “The Call of C’Thulhu”, he told me if I ever need it a writer I could always contact him.
The film has just won in the “Best Fantasy” category of the International Student Film Festival Hollywood. Did you know you were making award-winning material during filming?
Sandra: It was so unexpected and surprising. I’m a dreamer by nature and I like to dream big. At the time of filming I was just too happy thinking that I was doing something good by providing or at least trying to provide a strong role model for girls; that was the only thing I wanted to do and I fantasized about the story reaching and touching people, but I never thought of actually winning awards. When Juan told me the news about the festival, it just blew my mind. I was so in shock and happy that I couldn’t sleep! It’s nice when people close to you understand your purpose of creating a story and like it, but when people you don’t know see your work and like it and recognize it, it’s amazing. Producing an award-winner film is really a rollercoaster of emotions. You have to have a cold head to make the best decisions but also a heart filled with passion for the project, to help you continue on the road to reach your ultimate goal
What’s next for you?
Sandra: I have a couple of projects that I’m working on: I’m helping with two features and a short film that I wrote and am directing, but the must important one is the feature film of Growing Up Julianne now called Tales of Fairies. At the moment, Nuno and I are working on the third draft of the script and have already attached key positions to the crew. I’m approaching investors and companies and hopefully it will start filming next summer.
Why was this project so important to you?
Sandra: I feel that most media is missing a strong female role model. We live in a time full of stereotypical female models, where the beautiful girl is always a type of damsel in distress or a complete evil queen. We need a new heroine, a character that speaks to women, a character that is strong enough to stand for herself but at the same time is vulnerable to her world. A heroine who defends her beliefs, who accepts who she is despite what others think, who no matter how many times life brings her down she stands up every time. In a world where unfortunately stereotypes, sexism, and bullying still thrive, girls need a heroine.
Congratulations, Sandra and Nuno!
You can watch the trailer for Growing Up Julianne below.