As part of her report on the Pacific Union College Film Studies program, Brenda Delfino interviewed recent PUC graduate Edgar Momplaisir, whose short film “Heaven” screened at the 2014 SONscreen Film Festival in Tennessee. -Ed.
Brenda Delfino: How do you employ the skills you acquired in your film studies program?
Edgar Momplaisir: I am a part of a sketch/standup group in LA called BoyBand. Fellow PUC grad Kingsley Pascal and I shoot and edit videos for the group.
What is the most valuable thing you received from your time at PUC?
I contemplated leaving PUC many times with the hopes of going to a more recognized film school, but PUC gave me the opportunity that no other school did: it allowed me to make my own mistakes. From the first day, we were encouraged to check out cameras and just shoot something. I was able to track my progress during my 5 years there because I was allowed to experiment on my own. I can tell a huge difference between the first film I made there and the last film I made there. Most schools, at least for undergrad, allow you to make maybe one or two projects.
Did you focus on a specific form of filmmaking during your studies?
Not necessarily a specific form but I did mostly emphasize in screenwriting which actually reminds me of another fun part of PUC. Their program not only allows but ensures that you will do every single part of the production process. Because of this, I also found out that I absolutely adore editing films.
What has film as a medium allowed you to do? Are there things you hope to accomplish through visual storytelling?
I talk a lot yet I have a problem expressing exactly what I mean sometimes. I always found that I could see what I wanted to express but couldn’t say it to others. Film is definitely a way for me to express myself fully. Even over standup, I feel that there is no better way to express how I feel than with a film.
Do you detect an appreciation for visual storytelling within Adventism?
I don’t think so. I feel as if film requires a certain level of vulnerability and honesty that most people in the Adventist church aren’t exactly ready for. It also requires a fresh perspective and a willingness to not just take things at value. I find it so ironic that a Church that was able to analyze the mythological language used in Revelation and find it’s truth took a project like “The Record Keeper” at face value instead of really trying to get at what it’s message really was. (See Momplaisir’s longer discussion of this issue here).
What challenges did you encounter in your chosen program?
Well, at first, I wouldn’t exactly describe my parents’ attitude towards it as supportive. It’s a high risk profession. You have to give a lot to it before you see any sort of return. It’s hard for your parents to get how working for free (or as we call it “interning”) can lead to amazing opportunities or how investing in a short film will lead to a job someday.
Do you feel your program equipped you to become a professional?
I really feel as if PUC helped me find my voice as a filmmaker. Without that experience, I think I would’ve spread myself thin and not know what I really wanted to do with the skills I required. I think it’s a lot easier to go into an art professionally when you know exactly what you want to do. You go out and you find those people who align with your long-term goals and your message and you just make something.
This article is part of a series on film programs in Adventist higher education. See also: “La Sierra’s Film Prgram Trains the Next Generation of Adventist Storytellers,” and Documentary Film at Andrews University Brings Social Consciousness to Adventism.”
Brenda Delfino is a student intern for SpectrumMagazine.org and an English Major (writing emphasis) at La Sierra University.