Spotlight on Ohlone:
Student film goes to silver screen

By Devery Sheffer, Staff writer.

Thursday, February 12, 2009—Reprinted from Monitor.

Two men look at images hanging on wall. Students examine stills from their film, ‘One Way Ticket Please.’ —Photo courtesty of Lawrence Iriarte.

A suspenseful and provocative film made by an Ohlone teacher and students is to be included in upcoming film festivals. The 22-minute film, called “One Way Ticket Please,” is directed by Lawrence Iriarte, who teaches film and video production at Ohlone.

The crew consisted of five to eight of Iriarte’s students in his class last semester.

The film follows its main character Maury Jackson, played by Ryan Renzi, in his quest to leave his mundane life behind in hopes of finding an unworldly paradise.

The film’s eerie and spine-tingling ambiance feels similar to an old “Twilight Zone” episode or Alfred Hitchcock film. The film also costars Ohlone student Cyrus Soliman as the crafty travel agent whom Maury seeks out in his attempt to escape.

“One Way Ticket Please” is set to show in four film festivals including the Sacramento International Film Festival and Film Independent’s Los Angeles Film Festival. After its premier showing at the festivals Iriarte hopes to show it on television.

Channels such as Sci-Fi fit the genre of the film well. The film, an adapted screenplay, written by Iriarte is based on the mystical utopia known as Shangri-La found in the 1933 novel Lost Horizon.

Iriarte originally wrote his own version of the story 20 years ago when he read it in junior high school. Since then it has been tweaked and adapted into the film it is today.

Iriarte said he made this film to give his students a learning experience. During last semester he told his students about his film and offered them the opportunity to be a part of creating it.

“I wanted to show them you can make things look high quality if you just know the technique,” said Iriarte. Iriarte’s goal is for his students to leave his class ready to go and work in the industry.

Several of his former students currently work at major networks such as ESPN and MTV.

The entire film was shot in the Fremont and Newark area. The Ohlone campus, Coyote Hills and Old Niles all provided settings for the film. Although these areas may be familiar, the dark mood makes them almost unrecognizable.

The film took two days to shoot and is still undergoing some final editing. When you’re extremely limited with time to shoot, you can do nothing but hope that everything goes well, he said.

One problem that occurred the weekend of the shoot that was unavoidable. It began raining, leaving the crew with nothing to do but chase the sunshine. Overall, the rain did nothing but enhance the film.

The cameras didn’t capture the rainfall but the unique lighting added to the build-up of the climax scene and intensified the dreary feel of the film. Inspiration for the film was pulled from both his own experience and also from a well known director. Iritarte was invited to his first experience working on a film by a teacher when he was still in school.

His bus ride to a large warehouse in the middle of nowhere in San Francisco made him feel uneasy.

However, he was thrilled when he rang the buzzer and found himself on the set of the newest Disney movie, “James and the Giant Peach.”

This leap of faith that must be taken when persuing your dreams is a major theme in the movie.

Iriarte’s other inspiration was taken from filmmaker Christopher Nolan and his usage of light and the ability to tell a story in his movie “Memento.”

The film is currently 28 minutes long but the final version will be 22 minutes long, the length of a typical 30-minute television episode.

It is also awaiting its original soundtrack from a guitarist who formerly played for the band Primus. Altogether the film cost just under $300 out of Iriarte’s pocket, which mostly paid for feeding the crew and some extra equipment.

Iriarte has been teaching at Ohlone for more than seven years. He started by teaching film editing and special effects classes.

Iriarte’s experience in film and video led him to creating the Film and Video Production class that he now teaches.

He worked on some well-known movies such as “Matrix” and “Bedazzled.”

Iriarte’s latest project is a show, “Barbs Kids” that will premier on a major cable network next spring.

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