1The audience laughed, and clapped, and held its collective heart. The film on the screen played to a big audience on the main stage of ACMA’s performing arts center. A collaborative effort, our Film Seminar students were given the challenge to create one film that they wrote, shot, and directed …and edited and mixed …oh, and cast, acted in, and scored.

Clever, heartfelt, and so very professional, Behind the Veil showed ACMA filmmaking at its best.

The students who made the film stepped to the stage afterward to talk about their process and their work. Delightful, honest, and so incredibly thoughtful about their film, they put on a master class in collaborative filmmaking, documenting the challenges of starting with a blank piece of paper, writing and revising, shooting, reshooting, adjusting, and making artistic decisions. The path they described was long, funny, and filled with the creative struggle that often defines great art.

Just from this Q&A the audience could see the genuine chemistry and respectful give and take that seem to have defined the project. There were opinions and strong points of view, artistic visions and practical decisions, wild concepts and grounded approaches to making things work. It was collaboration writ large, and the result was as stunning as the process was inspirational.

That inspiration showed up in the questions the audience asked. Curious to know about their influences, their choice of technology, and their approach to bringing this story to life, the students and adults who filled the theater asked about every aspect of the filmmaking, and the cast and crew were able to answer them in a way that blended the exuberance of being a high school student and the understanding of people who had studied their craft for a long, long time.

Familiarity with the history of film, and true appreciation for certain filmmakers, was evident in the answers students provided about cinematography, direction, and score. Not only were these students able to discuss why Christopher Nolan’s camerawork informed their shooting of specific scenes, for example, they also showed their confident approach to their own work as the student composer described how the director and producer had asked him to score the film, sometimes mentioning film composers by name as inspiration. “She thought I could sound like Hans Zimmer,” he said smiling. Truth be told, his score sounded better than some you’ll see in theaters.

film panel

The film itself was a lovely story of romance as well as a marvelous take on the making of movies. Clever, creative, and self aware without being self serving, Behind the Veil told parallel stories of love, self expression, empowerment, and freedom. The usual cinematic stereotypes and expectations were brought out to be blown up. Genre shifting was deliberate and smart, and most importantly never got in the way of what was a meaningful and heartfelt love story.

One of my favorite moments of a wonderful night was when a student raised her hand and asked the panel two questions: What advice would you give future ACMA students if we’re given this assignment to make a film together? The students answered with humor and insight, offering a mix of good advice and funny anecdotes. Her next question: could this be something Mr. Bennett, ACMA’s film teacher, would do every year?

Hope and expectation are two of the best things art can inspire.


If you weren’t able to attend the premiere of Behind the Veil last night, you have one more chance today (March 3rd at 2PM) to see the film, watch a behind the scenes short, and hear the cast and crew talk about their art. If you’re anywhere near campus this afternoon it’s an inspiration you owe it to yourself to enjoy. Not sure? Check out the trailer here!

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