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Grass is greener on this side

Grass — nobody thinks about it or even cares enough to pay attention to it. But junior Patrick Utz does, believing that even the most ubiquitous plant has a story of its own. Having started filmmaking since elementary school, Utz expresses this belief through his short film, “Grass”.

“I wanted to start making these short films so that I could start getting my work out there and enter competitions because I noticed that this is what I wanted to pursue,” Utz said. “The best parts [about filmmaking] are actually going out in the fields and filming and [seeing] the end result.”

Utz originally got the idea for “Grass” from the television channel National Geographic, learning that after a bushfire, grass would grow back. He related this to how people face obstacles in life that bring them down, but must persevere to rebound from these experiences.

“[The short film] compares our struggles to something such as grass, that one normally wouldn’t compare with,” Utz said. “Also, the plot and what not is very unique, which is why it is classified as an ‘experimental’ film, a film that does not follow a normal story plot.”

Utz first learned how to make films on his own by playing around with GarageBand and iMovie, but soon realized it was his passion because he enjoyed the filmmaking process. At the end of his sophomore year and beginning of junior year, Utz decided he wanted to use his skills to enter competitions.

“I like the feeling of having a finished product at the end [and] the fact that you can make dramatic scenes that have the capability of moving people’s emotions,” Utz said. “And I think that that is very powerful. I also feel like it is not a burden but rather entertainment and joy.”

Utz spent one month filming in Sequoia National Park, places near Yosemite National Park, a local park in Diamond Bar and another month editing. He also used footage he had filmed previously in Argentina.

“I was pretty happy [with the end result], but I knew I could have done better if I had more time. It’s never what I imagined it to be but it was pretty close in some aspects. I would have played around with the cinematic color grading, to get more of the right look,” Utz said. “I also would’ve gone out and shot more film that would’ve tied in more nicely to the end. I would have done all these things to make the final film more polished overall.”

Along with Utz who directed, produced and submitted this film to various film festivals around the nation, senior Brian Sonner acted while senior Donghyeok Kim wrote the script and helped with audio editing. They are semi-finalists for the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) competition in New York.

“I was pretty surprised and really happy. I think [the judges] probably saw that the idea was quite creative, unlike most of their other films, probably,” Utz said. “I was really happy and pretty surprised due to many reasons, one of which is that we didn’t think we would get that far with our first competition short film.”

Utz’s experience with making films of his family trips, nature and technology played a major role in his decision to major in filming.

“I feel that there is a lot to learn about this profession,” Utz said. “And that with the right resources I can create a huge impact on society, such as teaching morals and lessons through the power of film.”

By Olivia Chiang, Staff writer


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