A family film: Media arts student makes film about family

By Lauren Hillery
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 14, 2005

A father, a son and a best friend. Sounds simple enough, but this minimal plotline developed by media arts senior Jonathan Pulley is just the beginning of not only a complex story but also a senior capstone film project.

For Pulley and a dozen other media arts students, this project represents more than just the end of college education. It is the culmination of their college filmmaking career and marks the next step toward fulfilling their filmmaking dreams.

Because of the magnitude of this project, it has become all encompassing for Pulley, something he can't help but focus all of his attention on.

"Right now I'm not interested in doing anything but making my film. It would be great if I was an all-around student right now, but I'm not," Pulley said.

The senior capstone project is not a requirement for graduating media arts students, but it was an obvious choice for Pulley.

"I didn't see myself not doing a film," Pulley said.

Pulley first began making short films with his best friend, Jason Kelley, a Pima Community College student, in high school. Kelley is now Pulley's director of photography for this film.

After taking as many digital arts classes as Pima had to offer and completing a number of projects, Pulley transferred to the UA in 2002.

In the past, Pulley said the majority of his films were lighthearted comedies about relationships, but for this film he wanted to do something different.

"I'm attracted to relationships, particularly failed relationships from stuff I've experienced," Pulley said. "But I kind of make fun of it. I don't dwell on it."

"Move Me," the title of his film, deviates from his past projects in that is a personal narrative drama and is also somewhat autobiographical.

"Some parts are completely made up, but there is definitely a thread in there that's me and my father," Pulley said.

Pulley did all the writing for his project, which took him the entirety of the summer. He drew from journal writings that he then compiled into a 50-page script. However at the suggestion of fellow media arts seniors and friends Andy Martinez, Dave Groseclose and Jennifer Scher, he cut it down to 20 pages, removing a whole character.

"It was a good suggestion. Initially I wanted to make a feature film, but that's not possible," Pulley said. "My film would not be as good without them."

In fact, these students have been working together on each other's projects for the past few years, fulfilling varying roles and giving constant feedback.

The project is progressing toward its mid-November shooting date with Pulley putting the finishing touches on his script, waiting for confirmation on one of the actors and figuring out who will play the father character, Herman.

Grappling with whether or not to cast his actual father in the role has become a big concern for Pulley.

"I already have enough issues going on with this autobiographical thing," Pulley said. "He's willing to help out. He's always been supportive of everything I've done. I'll do some rehearsals and workshops with him."

However, another issue still to be worked out is securing funding for the five days of shooting, which includes feeding 10 to 15 people. Miguel Jimenez, a media arts senior, will be Pulley's producer and has been working with him on the logistics of scheduling and funding. Pulley has budgeted at least $1,000 of his own money to contribute to the cost of the project.

In addition to the demands of his own project, Pulley has also agreed to help with editing Scher's senior capstone project.

"I enjoy editing more than anything else," Pulley said.

Pulley's effort and work has already been honored by the media arts department, which awarded him the Creative Achievement Award earlier this year for his work from last year. The award, given to one undergraduate and one graduate student, came as a complete shock to Pulley.

"I didn't know it existed, so I was definitely surprised when I got it," Pulley said.

Pulley will be honored today at the College of Fine Arts Honors Convocation from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Crowder Hall.