Edgar Momplaisir Talks PUC Film, Visual Storytelling, and Adventism

(Spectrumbot) #1

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.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6693

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

The medium is the message. In church school and academy at old E.M.C. We were entertained by travelogues by Mr and Mrs. Johnson, They would shoot in Africa and India. it was graphic for sure. A few years later, the principal camera man came through exposing their trick photography. He showed the rigging behind the scenes etc. The history of graphics in Adventist evangelism makes Star Wars tame stuff. Film is a great medium for store telling, But as with books, one must know the writer as well as the writing. Google luck with a graphic career, but be true to life, it is stranger than fiction. Tom Z

(Cfowler) #3

Tom, could you expound a little more on what was rigged?

(Thomas J Zwemer) #4

As I recall the primary point was a large snake was to have eaten a large bull. It turned out that the bull killed about a half dozen snakes. then the final picture was a snake eating a small goat. there were other staged pictures of confrontations with mountain Gorillas etc.The exposure was mainly to point out the different types of snakes that were in the series of films. That was about 1940. The other films we were shown were the civil war in Spain from the losing side. Neither side was democratic. We saw the communistic side. Tom Z

(Carolyn Parsons) #5

We were recently exposed to the film “What Might Have Been Can Be”.
The spectrum article about I is:

This film certainly illustrates the issues of using film to tell stories that are honest and vulnerable. The story is wooden with cardboard cutout characters. Even a documentary needs sensitivity and an eye for narrative and good storytelling.

I applaud these young film makers and their craft. I am profoundly moved by good storytelling on film. I find it an art with great potential to move people, to engage them and to understand issues.

(Steve Mga) #6

The recent “Adventist film” making the rounds of the local theaters in the US is a very good example of good story telling on film.

(Andreas Bochmann) #7

Just to tease you a little…
Zack Plantack just published an intriguing essay entitled:
“Filmosophy - Imaginative moral visioning through film thinking” in Journeys to Wisdom: Festschrift in Honour of Michael Pearson

To be sure - I don’t have much “access” to the medium of film - but this essay certainly was an eye opener for me.