MAP Seniors embark on final projects

May 4, 2017 — by David Koh

Ever since late September, seniors in the Media Arts Program have been spending time planning, filming and editing films as part of their culminating capstone projects. Of course, in the weeks leading up to the deadline on April 20, the seniors were busier than ever putting the finishing touches on them.  

These projects are a culmination of their three years in the program and are open-ended in nature. They function as a forum through which seniors can showcase the skills and techniques that they have acquired and follow a long and complex process.    

A group of six seniors, Austin Cai, Aryana Goodarzi, Grace Rothschild, Nolan Chao, Aidan Peck and Thomas Li, have chosen to create an animation and live-action hybrid film that revolves around a love interest that began in an online game.

The group’s final product, viewable on the Saratoga MAP YouTube channel, featured the struggles of a gamer, played by senior Zach Grob-Lipkis, as he falls in love with a female gamer, played by senior Kavya Sadras.

The film focuses on Grob-Lipkis’ officious gamer friend, played by senior Seena Ghafouri, who strives to provide him with the necessary advice to land a relationship with Sadras. However, as the  8-minute film ends, Grob-Lipkis learns to trust his own judgment instead of being dictated by others.

The group relied entirely on the school library for staging, with the rest occurring in the digital realm.  

The team resulted from a week-long process in September that grouped classmates based on what kind of film each person wanted to pursue.

The goal, according to Rothschild, was to create a group that would include students with strong skill sets in areas such as editing, filming and animating. After the group decided to use a mix of animation and live-action, they ran into a road block before deciding on their plot structure.

“Before Aidan strung it together nicely, we knew we wanted to combine animation and live action film because we loved how different it was, so the idea of a video game was something that stuck with us throughout the whole process,” Rothschild said.

After choosing the idea they consulted with their project mentor, English teacher Suzanne Herzman, to gain insights on how to convey different aspects of their story and finish the general groundwork for the plot, so that the group would be ready to film.

Over spring break, the group finalized all of the necessary scenes for each character so they could use the following weeks of school to just work on editing and audio tracks.

Although the group’s aim was to get nominated for SMASH’N, MAP’s annual showcase of the best projects throughout the year, Rothschild said that there are many other projects that deserve to win.

However, with the excitement of finishing the project comes a certain sadness, as the seniors prepare to leave MAP next year to move onto college.

Goodarzi said that although she hasn’t begun to feel nostalgic yet, she expects those feelings to come after the senior MAP trip to Asilomar, a hotel and conference grounds, later in May.

“In MAP, we’re like a family, and we’ve made friendships with people we probably otherwise would have never talked to,” Goodarzi said.

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