The Santa Monica College (SMC) Film Program production “Shape Shifter” has won the Best Student Short Film at the second annual Golden State Film Festival. The showcase of national and international films took place March 22-28 at the TLC Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Written and directed by SMC alum Kelly Thompson, “Shape Shifter” is a comedy that deals with the topic of body image. “It’s about a woman who sells weight loss products on an infomercial and she knows they don’t work,” said Thompson. “She finally has to come to a decision on whether she can continue doing that or not. It’s a moral decision.”
“It’s a really personal script for me,” added Thompson. “When we first read the script in the class, tons of students stood up and discussed how they’ve had to deal with body issues, either with physical insecurities or other things.”
“Shape Shifter” was shot in various locations around Los Angeles, with the SMC Film 33 “Making the Short Film” class functioning as a complete, professional film crew-in-training under the supervision of SMC Film Production head Prof. Salvador Carrasco.
“I am very proud of what our students achieved with ‘Shape Shifter’ because it is a highly entertaining and intelligent comedy that delivers a powerful social commentary about body image, consumerism, and the need for us to seek answers within rather than without ourselves,” said Carrasco.
SMC alumni Carrie Finklea and Michael Osborne also assisted as the film’s producing team. “‘Shape Shifter’ is a refined dark comedy about the infiltration of consumerism and its psychological impact on the individual,” said Finklea. “If the product Brenda [the protagonist] represents is fraudulent, what does this mean about herself?”
“This is one of the most talented casts of actors you could hope for,” added Osborne. Expanding on the film’s wider themes, Finklea said, “It is also a social commentary about other institutions, such as religion and corporate television. It brings to light the idea that we don’t question enough the institutions we blindly subscribe to.”
On the opportunities afforded by the SMC Film Program, Thompson said, “I think two percent of Directors Guild of America (DGA) directors are women. It’s an exciting opportunity. I love that about the SMC Film Program, that Professor Carrasco tries to have equality between genders and economic backgrounds and [ethnicities]. Everyone who gets a chance deserves it.”
The Golden State Film Festival is an annual event that aims to give emerging independent filmmakers a showcase for their talent. Filmmakers from the United States and across the world are eligible to participate. Both short and long form films are showcased at the festival. See goldenstatefilmfestival.com for more information.
SMC student films have won numerous accolades—including a BAFTA nomination, the Panavision Limelight Award at the Ojai Film Festival, Best Short Drama at the San Diego Film Festival, Best Short at the Prague Independent Film Festival, Special Mention at the International Festival of Film Schools in Munich, and Winner at the Women’s Independent Film Festival—and have been selected to screen in numerous prestigious domestic and international film festivals. Four SMC student films have been accepted into The American Pavilion Emerging Filmmaker Showcase during the Cannes Film Festival.
SMC offers an Associate of Science degree and Certificate of Achievement in film production. To learn more, email Carrasco_Salvador@smc.edu or see smc.edu/CMD. The film program—as well as the films that come out of it—is on YouTube as the “Santa Monica College Film Program” channel. SMC’s film production program is housed at the college’s new Center for Media and Design in the heart of Los Angeles’s entertainment district.
Submitted by Grace Smith, Public Information Officer