Western Professor's Film Earns Acclaim

Western MFA professor JS Mayank's film EMIT has been selected by PBS to be a part of its prestigious Shorts Showcase.

The film, is a sci-fi short film in the vein of Twilight Zone. Mayank has taken EMIT to more than 25 film festivals world-wide. 

Mayank lives in California, but works as a professor for Western's MFA in Creative Writing. We asked him a few questions about his film:

Tell us about your film. What is it about? How long did it take to produce? 

Here's a brief description: In a world where time flows backwards, an old man looks forward to meeting his wife for the first time, as her body is exhumed from the ground, then taken to the morgue, and eventually the hospital - where she comes alive. All the while, we juxtapose this happy moment with his 7-year old granddaughter, who’s coming to terms with her own mortality.

The short script won the grand prize at the Table Read My Screenplay in 2012, beating out over 200 other scripts, and won me a trip to Sundance, where a live-read of it was performed at the Waldorf-Astoria in Park City.

After that, I raised the funds, and shot the film in June, 2012. We finished extensive post production and visual effects over the rest of the year, and premiered the film at the famed Raleigh Studios in Hollywood in March, 2013.

Can you tell us about the journey through the film festivals? Which festivals did you attend?

I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response to my film. When I initially set out to make it, I told my producers - if we played at 3 or 4 good film festivals, I’ll be very happy. It’s a year later now - and with 26+ film festivals, from all over the world nonetheless - and I’m beyond thrilled. We’ve played in several cities in the US including LA, NY, Las Vegas, Seattle, Orlando, Omaha, Dubuque, Santa Fe, Newport Beach… and festivals in London, Athens, Edinburgh, Beijing, Montreal and Saskatoon.

I’ve attended quite a few of the festivals in the US, been to NY twice - once for the NBC|Universal Shortcuts festival, and then later for the Philip K. Dick festival, where we won Best Sci-fi Short, making it a dream come true - as Philip K. Dick’s work has been a huge influence of mine.

Can you talk a little about what an accomplishment this is for you personally?

Above all, it’s been quite a learning experience. I had the privilege of working with renowned actor Jack Coleman (Dynasty, Heroes, The Office, Scandal). He’s an absolutely wonderful actor and such a professional - I have so much respect for his craft, skill and abilities. In addition, I got to work with some great visual affects artists who were just coming off their stints doing visual effects for movies like Argo and Iron Man 3.

The festival circuit has been a great treat as well. We’ve won several awards at many film festivals, and I’ve been able to use some of this momentum to try and get my first feature film off the ground. In addition, I’ve had some exposure leading to some great avenues in Hollywood - such as meeting with BAD ROBOT - JJ Abrams’ production company.

Can you talk about how you might be able to bring your experience from this film to the classroom at Western?

I am constantly talking about my film experience in the classrooms. When I was making the short, I shared my process with the students. I showed them my initial script, then walked them through various cuts, and the editing process. I also share a lot of my personal meetings and how development in Hollywood actually takes place - such as protocols on how to approach producers, what to do on a general meeting, how to interact at film festivals, etc.

In addition, I do a lot of hands-on etiquette training regarding Hollywood during the summer residencies for the MFA program.

What's next for EMIT

Having more or less completed the film festival cycle, we were approached by PBS, which is considering showing the short film. In order to be selected, they’ve put the short online (on YouTube) for a select period of time. The short (s) with the most LIKES on their YouTube will be selected to be part of their program. Thus, I would really love if people could check out the film (it’s only 10 minutes long), and if possible - Like it on YouTube.

But most importantly, I just wanted to share my work with the Western community. As a filmmaker, I’ve worked for over 2 years on this project, and now that it’s out in the world, I want as many people to see it, as possible.

You can see the film below:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 3:15pm