Emerson College student-led senior showcase uplifts budding filmmakers

Photo by Xinyi Feng

Though Emerson College is largely known for its renowned film program and esteemed filmmakers, some feel there are too few opportunities to view and appreciate student-produced work. Through the creation of a campus showcase, one senior, Calvin Kertzman, decided to change that.

“No one ever has independent screenings or [showcases] independent short films, which sucks,” he said. “We go to a film school, and I never really get to see people’s stuff. I want [the event] to be one of those things where it’s like, ‘Okay, you say you’re a filmmaker, prove it.’” 

On Friday, Dec. 8, Kertzman held a special screening in which the Class of 2024 could submit their short films to be viewed by a live audience—many for the first time ever before. In collaboration with Kertzman, many sponsors– including Shortverse and WAVES– joined in on the event to uplift student filmmakers as well as recruit emerging talent. 

A student filmmaker himself, Kertzman understands the sometimes overwhelming task of distributing self-produced work, and viewed sponsorships as an obvious opportunity to offer students tangible alternatives. 

“We live in a digital age where you have access to like scarily everything— there’s too many opportunities, I would argue, to get your name out there,” Kertzman said. 

While putting together the event, Kertzman came across Shortverse, a platform for budding filmmakers to display and promote their short films. Immediately, he recognized the value such a tool could serve to the Emerson community. 

“It’s one of those things where it’s like, ‘Why is no one using this at Emerson?’” he said. “At Emerson, all we’re doing is making short films, so why is no one tapping into this market?” 

Shortly after, WAVES, a platform preserving the importance of landscape film, joined in as an additional sponsor. To them, the event is an opportunity to increase brand awareness as well as encourage Emerson students to submit to Headline Horizons, their upcoming $10,000 short film contest. 

“When Calvin reached out to us, it was a dream come true,” David Mills, Co-Chief Technology Officer, said. “Emerson is one of the best film schools in the country. We’re hoping that we can get some exposure with the Emerson student body. We know there’s a ton of talented filmmakers there and we’d love to have them join our community.” 

While Emerson is home to no shortage of talented filmmakers and their creations, Kertzman and the team felt having a showcase specifically for seniors would be both uplifting and motivating. As many Visual Media Arts majors spend their last semester in LA, Kertzman felt there is no better time to allow the class of 2024 to “end with a bang.” 

“[We wanted to] let this be a night to not only celebrate short film, but to specifically celebrate seniors,” he said. “You guys have been here for four years, it’s about time you got some recognition for your work.” 

Especially for those gearing up to begin their post-graduate career, the opportunity to have a short film screened can be an invaluable one. 

“One thing that really helps a confidence boost is seeing your work on a screen, seeing it be celebrated,” Kertzman said. “If it’s on a screen and people love it, that’s a huge confidence boost. You know that your short film made an impact. It made people feel something, it made them feel happy, and made them laugh.”

As the WAVES mission is to re-revolutionize the way we view film, the screening could not be a better opportunity to elevate and uplift their message. 

“Films are better in landscape,” Peyton Wallingford, Chief Operating Officer of WAVES, said. “That’s the way film has been intended to be watched since the beginning—on a big screen with good speakers. So there’s some overlap with what we’re doing and what Calvin’s doing, which is why I think this is a great collaboration.”

At the event, 22 films were screened to an audience of over 40. As the showcase is the first of its kind, Kertzman is proud of its astounding success and looks forward to the opportunity to host similar events in the near future. 

“We had an awesome audience who came out to not only support the seniors whose work was being shown, but who were genuinely interested in the program and seeing the work on a proper screen,” Kertzman said. “I hope to continue doing short film programs/screenings like this, giving audiences and filmmakers a chance to find a common celebration in each other’s work and content, enjoying the creativity and art of short-form content.”

About :

Sophia Pargas is a senior Journalism and Marketing Communications double major at Emerson College. She currently serves as one of the Managing Editors for The Independent, and is excited for the opportunity to explore a new component of journalism through film.