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Ninth Annual Festival
Director: Richard Levien
Producer: Richard Levien
Winner of the Immigration Award
ABOUT THE FILM
More about Immersion from Director Richard Levien
Casting was probably the most important part of making Immersion. The search to find Moises and his classmates took several months. I visited the twelve elementary schools in Oakland and San Francisco with the highest Latino enrollment. These are also schools where the vast majority of students are poor enough to qualify for free lunches. I spoke in every 4th and 5th grade classroom. I encouraged the kids to make their own films, using the child filmmaking exploits of fellow New Zealander Peter Jackson as an example. “Who’s seen Lord of the Rings” and “Guess how old the filmmaker was when he made his first film” (correct answer: 8 years old) turned out to be good conversation-starters. Of course, the kids were also encouraged to participate in Immersion.
Auditions were held either at the school, or at a nearby public library that the kids were familiar with. I was able to talk to over one thousand kids this way, and on average more than one child from each class visited showed up for auditions. Most had never acted before, and very few had ever been to an audition. Because so many children were needed for the classroom and playground scenes, kids who did not get principal roles were still able to participate in the film if they wanted to. Throughout the process, the filmmakers wanted the experience to be empowering for all the kids involved.
As a freelance film editor, I enjoy the creative and technical challenges of editing, and most of all the collaborative process of helping a director find their original vision. I recently edited and did motion graphics for the short film On The Assassination Of The President, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008. I also edited the cult Internet hit, Store Wars, which was seen by 5.5 million people in the first 6 weeks of its release.