CSUMB alum makes return trip to film festival

A pair of short films made on an iPhone have put a graduate of the Teledramatic Arts and Technology program at CSU Monterey Bay on the stage of the most prestigious film festival in the United States.

Robert Machoian, a 2007 graduate of CSUMBRobert Machoian will have two entries screened as part of the narrative short films program at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Jan. 17-27.

The two are from a series Machoian calls Movies Made from Home.

He turned to his iPhone in part because it’s easier to use and in part because he thought there would be less pressure with the smaller format.

“The cameras are expensive and the production itself is a big ordeal to put together,” he said, describing the work he and his collaborator Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck have done over the last four years.

“I wanted to make a series of films that were free from expectations and magnitude. I would just make them because I love making films.”

When he shared them with a few people, “they seemed to really respond to them, so that motivated me to submit to Sundance. And – amazingly – they responded as well.”

But he’s not committed to the iPhone format. “Big productions are great and I hope to continue to work on big films. But it isn’t the size of the production that makes a film great or not great. It truly has to do with the story, the pacing, and that can be done in any format.”

"Kudos to a '25 New Face’ from 2010, Robert Machoian, who has two shorts playing in the short film program."
– Filmmaker Magazine

According to a festival news release, 65 short films were selected from more than 8,000 submissions. “The short film section of the 2013 festival is comprised of bold works by adventurous filmmakers who have mastered creative ways to embody their unique perspectives in the short form onscreen,” said Trevor Groth, director of programming for the festival.

“The selections represent the immensely varied and dynamic approaches to storytelling that will inspire audiences with their huge accomplishments within a limited time frame.”

Machoian, a native of King City, graduated from CSUMB in 2007, went on to earn a master of fine arts degree from UC Davis and is now a lecturer at Sacramento State and at UC Davis. He lives in Davis.

It’s the third time in four years that CSUMB graduates have had films shown at Sundance. In 2010, “Charlie and the Rabbit,” by Machoian and fellow alum Ojeda-Beck, was selected for the short film program. In 2011, “Prairie Love,” produced by 2003 graduate Doug Mueller, was screened in the NEXT category, for innovative and original work on a budget of less than $500,000.

“I learned a lot from my first trip to Sundance,” Machoian said. “One is that it’s extremely addicting. Once you get into Sundance, you’re just gonna want to get in all the time.”

And since Sundance attracts the top filmmakers, it’s important “to introduce yourself and find others with the same sensibilities because in time we may be working on projects together or in search of someone to do a project with.

“And the people you meet at Sundance are the people you should seriously consider working with,” he said.

For more information, visit the festival website.

Learn more about the Teledramatic Arts and Technology Department at CSUMB.