Lights, Camera, Action

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Pacific seniors prepare to showcase their short films

For one day every year, Pacific’s Media Arts Department rents the Clinton Street Theater in southeast Portland to showcase the films of graduating seniors. This year, ten students will display their Capstone films. There are several films that take a documentary style approach, while other students wrote out a script and took a more narrative approach. One particular Capstone student even wrote a song and filmed a music video. 

   Two members of the Media Arts Department with featured  documentaries in the showcase are Tayah Lyons-Harper and Lovelyne-Rhayn Sistoso. Lyons-Harper explains that her film “is a short documentary where I followed my senior year and everything I did and kind of reflected on growing up and my childhood and just how that’s made me the person I am today.” 

   Sistoso also chose to do a documentary personal to her own life, focusing on the idea of what home means: “My film is titled ‘This is Home’ and it’s like a personal diary of myself and about kind of recognizing what the definition of home is to me. It’s basically just talking about how I find comfort in both Hawaii which is where I’m born and Oregon since I’m going to be moving here in the coming years.”

   Explaining how Sistoso wound up choosing the topic of home for her film, she shared that the process began by her having to make some decisions. “At first, I wanted to do something really personal so I thought, what would be more touching to kind of give a send-off message from my work here at Pacific and just to my friends and my family; to whom I appreciate the most. That was my main goal. From there I needed to rack up how I wanted to present that.”

   Due to the similar styles of their films, Lyons-Harper and Sistoso also had similar approaches to the process of making the films. While there were some challenges to the personal documentary, it was also a very rewarding experience, as Lyons-Harper explains that to make the film, “[I] just kept my camera on. It was difficult to kind of figure out what I wanted to include, what I didn’t want to include. I recorded way more than I needed to. But it was really fun to be able to look back and realize I got to kind of memorialize these certain moments that I would have forgotten otherwise because they were so minor but they were, they contributed to my senior year.”

   While not all of the films take the forms of documentaries, almost all of them seem to have a personal touch included, according to Lyons-Harper: “Everything, [especially the documentaries] are based on everyone’s personal experiences. If it’s not directly about their life, it’s influenced by it.”

   While the topics of the documentaries provided a chance for both Sistoso and Lyons-Harper to look back at their lives, they are also looking towards their future and the upcoming showcase. ‘I’m excited for my family to see it because they’ve only seen clips and bits and pieces, but they haven’t really seen everything yet,” Lyons-Harper says. “I’m very curious to see what they think of my perspective of growing up and how I experienced my senior year. Because it’s kind of like a culmination of their lives too.”

   Meanwhile, Sistoso says that she’s “more excited to see just reactions from everyone, regardless of the audience. I just want to see if I’ve made some sort of connection for them to relate to, especially with talking about home. If the audience themselves have moved from anywhere, [I] basically just make some sort of relatable content for them.”

   Talking about the apparent growth within the department and within the arts and humanities subjects offered at Pacific in general, Sistoso reflects that “I’m glad that it’s growing, because when thinking about it, I know like a lot of people would be more into stem and all that, and it was just really weird to be the one kid that wanted to do media arts, so I love the fact that we’re getting more people into that.”

   Sistoso also has some parting words of wisdom for any students possibly looking ahead to their own capstone projects: “Please don’t wait until the last minute to do it.” 

   Sistoso and Lyons-Harper’s films, as well as the films of the other students presenting this year, can be viewed in the showcase on May 19, at 2 p.m., at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland. 


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