Faculty Collaborations get SFTV on Festival Circuit

Students aren’t the only ones who are busy at LMU School of Film and Television. Their professors undertake their own numerous creative endeavors. Sharon Mooney, associate professor of film production, showcased her work as a director, editor and cinematographer in numerous festivals across the country.

Revolutions per Minute, an experimental film festival, featured her film “Yellow Persona” at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. The 13-minute retelling of the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s “Persona,” and was shot by Charles Swanson, associate professor of film production.

“‘Yellow Persona’ is a haunting of the self, a sleepless eternity, a desire to become another,” said Mooney. “This work explores the physical manifestations of the mind filled with grief and the yearning to transform.”

Mooney intends for the film to be installed as a 3-Channel loop. “I want to install it in the floor, in the wall. I want to make people climb something to see it,” said Mooney. “This installation piece is not necessarily meant for traditional passive film viewing. Although there are elements of passivity in viewing moving image works in other spaces with this piece, this idea of active effort has implications on the audience member. These ways of installing the film should create a different visceral experience for the viewer. The more challenging the installation the more implicated the audience becomes.”

Continuing the theme of grief, Mooney contributed to Shayna Connelly’s collection of short films, “A Memory Palace for Ghosts,” which screened at the Chicago Filmmakers Festival. From the collection, Mooney shot and made the title sequence for Connelly’s “Blunt Force Trauma,” produced “Every Ghost has an Orchestra,” and edited “Quiver.” As a whole, the shorts navigate an aftermath of trauma and grief.

“Grief comes in myriad forms and my work focuses more on the inability to move on from difficult moments, leading to self-destruction,” said Mooney. “I would also say my films borrow from experimental or lyrical visual techniques, but rarely are truly experimental. I try to use methods that trigger emotional responses and gut feelings so the images create a resonance that might be beautiful and disturbing simultaneously.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Mooney showcased her editing work on “Bull Mountain Lookout,” a comedy-horror, at the Spokane International Film Festival. “I like to challenge myself with new projects and different storytelling modes,” said Mooney. The film, about a group of girl scout troop leaders discovering the legend of Bull Mountain, was written and directed by fellow Vanessa Newell, associate professor of film production.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve edited a film of Professor Kreuzriegler, one of Professor Swanson’s, one of Professor Newell’s and one by Professor Pitre and Clawson — covering comedy/horror, drama, experimental, and a book trailer,” said Mooney. “In the last five and a half years, I have shot three of my own films here with faculty, staff, and students exclusively with Professors Swanson, Newell, Soto, Myers, and Kotowski. We all look at each other’s works and give notes, the same way we do in the classroom with students. I would say if I didn’t have such a strong collaborative community in SFTV, it would be much harder for me to complete any of my work — academic or creative.”