SOJOURN Stands out in Stage 32 Screening at Austin Film Festival

Creativity and storytelling skills from around the country were on display in one of the many short film screenings at the Austin Film Festival

Review by: Alexa Smith

Austin Film Festival’s Stage 32 Short Film screening offered a variety of productions in varying genres. The short films originated from a contest that was hosted by Stage 32, an educational and social media platform for creatives. This is Stage 32’s 4th year hosting this contest and it is clear that they’ve found some gems even though some films struggled to match the quality of their competitors. 

The screening started with a film titled “Dolphin Girl” (director Tanya Lovrics). A rough way to start the screening as this was one of the weaker films shown. The film follows a young boy as he struggles to make friends after moving to a new town. A young girl befriends him and helps him find a way to fit in. We watch as the boy slowly figures out that the girl was actually a figment of his imagination. The plot sounds promising but ultimately fell victim to clunky dialogue and even clunkier sound design. The score is heartwarming but was overshadowed by the unbalanced sound effects and rough sound transitions. Overall, the movie is nice but lacked in production and writing quality. 

This first short left me worried about the quality of the following six films. However, the next film “Duke” (director Thiago Dadalt) assuaged my fears. Based on a true story, “Duke” is about a boy with severe autism. The film highlights the difficulties the family faces when trying to figure out how to help him. I feared the film would fall victim to stereotypes and flat characters as many stories of autistic people do, but Dadalt created a realistic picture of what it is like to live with autism. According to an interview Dadalt did with the Napa Valley Film Festival, he spent over a year with Duke’s family to really understand not just Duke but the relationship he had to his mother as well. The carefully conducted research is not where the film’s merits stop. The viewer can see how intricately this film was planned from the beautifully constructed shots and well-conducted lighting design. “Duke” had a lot of work and effort put into it and resulted in a heartfelt film. 

The following film, “The Man With a Pillow For a Face” (Director Carlos Grana) had fantastic production value and sported a gorgeous set. The lack of dialogue in the movie left the story somewhat open to interpretation but felt like a grasp for originality. This plot of a man being stuck in a repetitive rut every day and solving it with a dramatic action is nothing new. While the sight of a man’s body with a pillow head leads the viewer into an area of Uncanny Valley that is thrilling and disturbing at the same time – this film lacked the heart of the other films that not even a Black Mirror-worthy set can make up for. Despite these flaws, this film is still worth a watch for the production value and slightly terrifying ending alone. 

The next two shorts, “Dream Catcher” (Director Avery Rouda), and “Things That Fall” (Director Sy Huq) were some of the weakest ones of the bunch after “Dolphin Girl”. “Dream Catcher” is a computer-animated film that unfortunately had the quality of something from the mid-2000s. However, this did not take away from the creativity and imagination of writer/director/producer Rouda. “Dream Catcher” shows what goes on inside of a dreamcatcher in a child’s bedroom. We watch as employees in a dream factory take bad dreams and turn them into good ones. Even though the animation quality of this film put it behind the other ones, it does not take away the enjoyment and childlike wonder an audience member feels while watching it. While “Things That Fall” had fantastic sound design and impressive cinematography that featured beautiful bookshelf shots, the plot felt overdone. It was a simple meet cute with an interesting twist that was unfortunately not enough to keep it from feeling trite. “Things That Fall”  was still an enjoyable film and still has the ability to create a warm-fuzzy feeling.

The real standouts came in the form of the final two films of the screening. The final film that was shown, “Tell Him” (Director Virginia Bach) is a French film about a widowed father who is struggling with how to tell his son that his mother has passed that was created with empathy and the perfect amount of coldness. The film takes place over one day and starts in the morning with the boy asking about his mother. As the audience slowly starts to understand what is happening, we start to feel the same sense of dread the father must be feeling. This sense of dread is not just present in the actor’s performance but also in the cinematography and direction. Bach has crafted a film with extreme close ups that help us feel the stress of the father. While the trope of a dead mother can often be overused or relegated to being a simple plot point, this film takes time to watch the mourning father and for the audience to feel compelled enough to mourn along with him. The film’s excellence comes to a crescendo by ending with the son walking into the hospital room that his mother is supposed to be in. The film ends before we see the son’s reaction, showing that Bach trusted the audience enough to draw their own conclusions. 

“Tell Him” is a story told in a beautiful way. Even though “Tell Him” was the grand prize winner of the Stage 32 contest, I found the real star of the screening to be “SOJOURN: A Visual Proverb” (director Jonathan Lewis). This film exemplifies the creativity and rule-breaking that you hope to see in up and coming artists. Lewis is able to take the simple tale of returning home and turn it into so much more. The film lives up to its title of “A Visual Proverb”  by using poetic narration and artistic visuals interspersed with an African American man contemplating his place in the world on his journey back to his home. “SOJOURN” is such a great film not just because it tells a story that needs to be told but also because it is not afraid to take risks. Jonathan Lewis, who also wrote the film, says in his director’s statement on the film’s website

“I knew I had to lend my voice and story, as an aid to help young black men and others find peace within, and extend my hand to help close the gap between ignorance and understanding.” 

Lewis was able to use beauty and artistry to express issues he had dealt with and create a film that is so gorgeous you can’t look away. “SOJOURN” stood out from the crowd. 

The Stage 32 Short Film screening at the Austin Film Festival offered a wide array of points of view and stories told in 20 minutes or less. The screening as a whole helped show just how important it is to believe that your voice matters in the film industry. It also helped show why it is important to listen to the voices and stories of others. Stage 32 is doing a great job at helping bring up indie filmmakers not just through this contest but through the number of resources on their website as well. The website features a place for filmmakers to digitally network and learn more about their craft. This is a great tool to use if you are an RTF major at Austin Community College, so make sure to check them out. 

If you’re interested to learn more about any of the films mentioned, check out Stage 32’s contest page and keep an eye on the website for future screenings of the films. 


Clarification 11/26/19: “Dolphin Girl” was an additional screening shown at the Austin Film Festival and was not a part of the 4th Annual Stage 32 Short Film Program.

Austin Film Fest: A Patient Man Interview

The 26th Annual Austin Film Festival came to an end on Thursday, Oct. 31. As a hidden gem among the various film festivals from around the world, a variety of independent film screenings were showcased across the city. One of the screenings was “A Patient Man”, a film about a man who survives a car accident and is trying to piece his life back together. I had the amazing opportunity to sit down and interview Kevin Ward (Director), Harrison Reynolds (Producer), Rob Houle (Composer) and Jonathan Mangum (Lead Actor) about the drama thriller. 

To read the non-spoiler film review, click here.   

Interview by: Nalani Nuylan

*Interview has been edited to remove spoilers

NALANI NUYLAN: What inspired you to write the film?

KEVIN WARD: I live in LA and I had a long commute. For a while, I rode the train. It’s a weird experience: you do meet people and there are people you sit next to. I just like the idea if I were to befriend one of these people.


From the initial conception of the film to when you finished shooting, who long was that process?

KW: Four to four and a half years. The longest part of the process was looking for money.  


What inspired you guys to join the project?

ROB HOULE: I have known Kevin since college. We were in punk bands together. When I was out in LA, I knew he was making this film. I thought to myself, ‘He’s going to ask me to compose music for him, right?’ And he did.

JONATHAN MANGUM: Kevin asked my wife, who does casting, if she could help him out with the film. She gave me the script, and it’s rare to read something this good. I never get to do this kind of part, it’s always comedy. I said, ‘hey I want to do this’ and he gave me a chance to do it. 

HARRISON REYNOLDS: We started raising money for this film through crowdfunding. He had an original guy leave the day before. He called me the next day and I jumped on the project. We shot a trailer over two weeks and that’s what started this whole process.


I want to talk a little bit more about this role, Mr. Mangum. As you said, you are known for your comedy, so how was this role for you as an actor?

JM: It was different, yet I felt like I could relate to Tom (Mangum’s character) in a way. Comedy has some dark elements to it, but the goal is to make people laugh. Here I am making people believe that I am [justified], and that’s not easy either.

KW: I just want to say that any good actor can play a darker character, but not all actors can be comedians and make people laugh. We were truly lucky to have Jonathan.   


So, how much where you rewriting on set? How different does it feel from the original script?  

KW: I didn’t do much rewriting. I don’t know too much has changed between script to story. The cut I think is very different. The ending I think I monkeyed around with for a long time. This is an indie movie, this is what we got to shoot and there is no going back. The only real differences are what happened in the cut.  


What were the permits you needed for the film?  

KW: The only permit we bought was [for the City of Sacramento]. The interior of the train and the exterior of the train, those were the only permits we had. It was a lot of running and gunning. Every location was either borrowed or gotten off for cheap.


A lot of the audience members here today are writers and filmmakers, people who want to do what you did here today. Can you give some of the biggest lessons learned over the course of the project?

KW: There is a lot of things not to do, like don’t shoot on a moving train. I think the most important thing is to know that it is achievable. There is nothing mystical about making a movie. The hardest part about making this movie was finding the movie to do it, finding someone who believed in us and believed in the project. Shoot a trailer, show your friends, fail a few times, and do it again. 

JM: Don’t hold on to whatever idea you think ‘this is my big idea and it has to be perfect before I shoot it.’ Nope. Just shoot it, just get it done, and there will be more ideas. Don’t hold on to any one idea.

HR: Get a lot of feedback from your friends, family or whoever else you trust. [Have them] read your script, have them watch your cuts. Watch it with an audience: they’ll know what’s working, what’s not working, what are some of the plot holes. I think that is an important part of the process.      


And of course, I have to ask. We Austinites are very proud of our city. Is there a particular reason you choose to screen “A Patient Man” in Austin rather than the Toronto Film Festival or the Palm Springs Film Fest?

HR: I went to UT for my degree, so I am a little bit prideful in that sense. The main reason is that we wanted to have the experience, while the other film festivals are more glamorous.    

RH: I lived in Austin a while ago. It’s been amazing to see how much the city has changed and taken off since I left. I am glad we were able to be a part of the festival.  

JM: Austin also has this feeling about it that just makes this kind of work better. In LA, it’s more stressful while here it’s about the art of filmmaking.  


Lastly, is there anything that I missed which you gentlemen want to say?

HR: We just want to say a huge thanks to our volunteers in LA for making this film possible. Our whole staff and crew were volunteers. Their countless hours and work helped us make this film. We wouldn’t have done it without them.   


Austin Film Festival: A Patient Man Review

Independent film reflects on the condition of the human mind in drama thriller.

To read ACCENT’s interview with the filmmakers, click here.

Review by: Nalani Nuylan 

How do we know the people we choose to befriend? By proxy, how well does the audience know the character(s) they are following?  

A Patient Manis the film debut of writer/director Kevin Ward. Screened at the 2019 Austin Film Festival, this hidden gem introduces Tom (Jonathan Mangum), a man who is trying to piece his life back together after a great tragedy. On his road to recovery, he befriends a man named Aaron (Tate Ellington) who rides the same train with him. All the while answering these pivotal questions in the process.  

Told in a nonlinear plot structure, the film takes the audience on a trip to solve the mystery of what happened to our protagonist while revealing truths on how grief, guilt and revenge affect the human psyche.

The best way I can describe this trip is in the metaphor of a massive puzzle with a box that has no big picture finish. You will notice some key puzzle pieces and involuntary want to join the game. After seeing how some of the pieces of the film fit together, you will eventually begin to assume how the story will unfold in the end. Yet, as the audience puts that last piece of the film together the big picture may actually surprise you. 

That’s how this film was for me. I was already picking it apart for the sake of reviewing it. But once I saw a clue, I wanted to find more. Sure, I saw what was coming. But at the same time, I also didn’t see it in when it came to the grand view.

Ward does an amazing job of hiding the clues to the mystery while showing a very real depiction of how a person can descend into revenge because of their grief. As the old joke goes, the descent into madness is not a rapid downward spiral, but a slow progression of moments. 

Mangum, who is mostly known for his work in comedy, shines playing Tom as we see his fake smiles at his work progress into the subtle flickers of dark intentions. I have to give credibility to Mangum’s performs as an actor. 

The praises continue to Producer and Cinematographer Harrison Reynolds, who used the close-up shots and the Los Angeles sunlight to completely flip the thriller tropes on its head. Rather than installing the suspicion, the clever use of Reynold’s surroundings in combination with his camera work when characters are in a conversation to instill this sense of security to only make the ending more enjoyable.    

For his film debut, Ward did a wonderful job of cinematic storytelling. Nicely paced and ever so juicy, one can’t help but marvel at the film being made on a minuscule budget and mostly shot on a moving train. 

This film will leave you with questions and an odd sense of satisfaction. It was an enjoyable ride, and I urge you to join along. 

Update on February 24:
“A Patient Man” is available to rent or buy on  Google Play Store, iTunes, and Amazon Prime Video. If you are curious about this film in any way, I urge you to watch it for yourselves on these platforms.

Pocha Concha: Turning Hate Into Love

Finding your strength in your heritage.

Column by: McKenna Frausto Bailey

With Hispanic Heritage month coming to a close, I wanted to reflect on something new I’ve come to embrace about my Mexican-American heritage. My family on my mother’s side is from Mexico. During the Civil Rights movement, my grandmother faced a lot of racism because she’s Hispanic and speaks Spanish. My mother doesn’t know Spanish since my grandmother didn’t want to teach it to her, and as a result, I didn’t grow up speaking much Spanish either. 

Now, I can speak Spanish (or rather Tex-Mex), but I’m not fluent yet. I love my Hispanic heritage because Spanish is a beautiful language and there are so many mysteries about Mexican history that fascinate me. I love calling myself Tejano or Tex-Mex. I feel that it’s a part of my identity.

Recently, while scrolling on twitter I came across an interesting term from Buzzfeed; ‘Pocha Concha’. I recognized ‘Concha’ as it translates to ‘shell’ in English and is also used to describe my favorite Hispanic treat, Pan Dulce (sweet bread), aka Conchas. However, I didn’t understand ‘Pocha’, or ‘Pocho’ if you’re a boy. 

According to Maya Murillo (@mayainthemoment), a Buzzfeed producer who coined the term ‘Pocha Concha’ on their YouTube show Pero Like,

 “[A Pocha/o is] a derisive term for people who are whitewashed in America but who have Mexican descent. It basically means your Spanish is bad, you’re a 4th generation Mexican-American, and it’s used to offend someone by telling them they aren’t Latin enough.” 

The Britannica Encyclopedia defines a Pocha/o as, “A derogatory term typically used by native-born Mexicans to describe U.S. born Mexicans that don’t speak Spanish. They aren’t considered either Mexican or American.” Pocha has much of the same meaning as ‘Chicano’, but less political. 

However, there is more to the story. Maya continues, “So I took that word, reclaimed it, and combined it with my favorite dessert and now it’s a term of endearment to describe love for others and self-love.” 

I fell in love with this immediately. While some might still see the term (Pocha), as racist, I think it’s a good thing what Maya has done by turning a historically derogatory word into something we can take honor in. 

I welcome the term, Pocha Concha. It’s a way for us Mexican-American’s to find some of our identity in our heritage and embrace our culture. It makes us unique. It strengthens us. Knowing our roots and our culture gives us a powerful sense of self. Just because someone is a 4th generation Mexican-American, or has a bad Spanish accent, doesn’t make them any less Latino. Maya emphasizes these ideas in her final statement. 

“So go ahead, use Pocha Concha. Use it, and use it proudly. Don’t let anyone else tell you that you’re not enough. Take control of it. Be you. Be empowered by it.”

Now every time I see a Concha it reminds me of my self-empowerment; that I’m reclaiming my culture and learning more about my heritage. Thanks to Maya, I have a special phrase to remind me of my journey. 

Happiness Over Acceptance

Written by Alyssa Lopez

Acceptance, for many, is feeling welcomed and having a sense of belonging. Happiness is something most of us seek in order to make us feel whole. Worrying about how someone chooses to perceive who we are can have a major impact on us. The constant notion of being judged by people and trying to be accepted can, perhaps, lead us to downplay our selves, ultimately dwindling our own happiness. The question we should ask ourselves is
do we want to be accepted or be happy?

“In the past, I always felt like people would judge me, and it was not for anything specific. I have stopped myself from going through with certain situations because I didn’t think I was good enough,” says health science student, Jessie Braganca.

For many, having a feeling of your ear ringing as your name drops from mouth to mouth; the belief of being the mistake; or even the light laugh as you pass strangers can spark self-doubt. This feeling can activate fear – fueling inner thoughts to cloud our minds, causing discouragement.

This discouragement can cause fear of saying the wrong thing and feeling misplaced. “I feel confident with myself, but I have had strangers comment about how ‘big’ I am straight to my face. I am not going to lie and say it doesn’t hurt. Comments like that stay with me,” says health science student, Emma Mckibben.

Instead of allowing the self-doubt to grow within you try to diminish that feeling. There are going to be imperfect days where internal conflicts or criticism will challenge your self-view. In that moment of weakness know that it is okay to not be okay. Take that weakness, learn from it, do not let it define or defeat you, and know you are not alone. Wake up in the morning telling yourself and believing that it will be a good day. Learn to laugh at mistakes, to look in the mirror and know you are beautiful, enough, and to never hold back. Happiness is a state of mind and you have the power to control it. Your own well-being should always overpass wanting to be accepted and aiming to be beatific. Love over hate. Heart over mind. Confidence over fear. Happiness over acceptance.

Mckibben says, “at the end of the day it is just you, so go through life knowing that you are living for yourself and no one else”.

SXSW Film Review- Running With Beto

Written by Nathaniel Torres

Running With Beto is a film that “started with baseball like so many other great things,” says director David Modigliani.  Speaking to the audience at the SXSW 2019 premiere of his film, Modigliani shares with the crowd how he met now 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke while playing for the Texas Playboys baseball team. He says it was the opportunity to witness a positive campaign in the current political climate that convinced him to capture it on film. Modigliani continually asked himself “What is the story here?” all the while amassing over 700 hours of footage. When speaking with several audience members at the premiere, the descriptor I most commonly heard was “genuine.”  Modigliani’s film iterates the positive message that the congressman spread throughout his campaign run, but rather than being an hour and half platform recap, it exposes the man behind the message.


Before the film, the audience chats. Small talk inevitably leads to reflections on the outcome of the 2018 election. Audience members recount their memories at election parties, being gathered around the TV with high hopes. Their tones take woeful dips as they come to the part about the seat being announced for Cruz, except that’s not where their stories end. Sounds of hope and determination resurface.  Discussions conclude with adjusted outlooks both for a brighter future and O’Rourke’s chances at attaining office. For many, it is one and the same.


The lights go dim and several figures rush to the middle rows, faintly illuminated by the glow of the screen. The audience gives a stifled cheer. There’s no fooling this crowd; they know their hero and O’Rourke’s family is here to watch with them.

The film opens with a montage of sound bites and headlines that pick the scabs of slow-healing wounds for democratic Texans. Immediately apprehension and unease hushes the crowd.  Anyone who followed the midterms recognizes the mix of media playing out on the screen. Yet the mood lightens up just as quickly with the first scene. Video shot from a phone shows the O’Rourke family load into the car. Beto’s son Henry O’Rourke asks, “What’s a sucker?” in response to hearing his dad use the term seconds before. The exchange between O’Rourke and his wife Amy is brief but says so much. It’s a moment that parents around the country know well.  The split second of how best to describe an idiom and who will take the responsibility of glossing it over is a scene reminiscent of a family sitcom.


Clips of the O’Rourke family such as this one effectively reign in the audience to recognize the human aspect of the congressman. That’s the authentic tone that Modigliani captures in this film.  He pulls back the curtain on the polished message and shows a man in full sprint to convince Texans he’s worth their vote. Though O’Rourke is the main character in this narrative he is not the only one.  He is the face of change, but his team and his followers are the movement.  The film follows three outspoken citizens doing their part to usher in the blue wave.  One in particular, Shannon Gay, almost steals the show. She is a rough speaking woman with a sic ‘em attitude.  The audience loves her audacity. If liberals are snowflakes, she is a blizzard.


Amanda Salas and Marcel McClinton are shown doing their part to address two of the state’s most pressing issues: gun laws and voter turnout.  Both of them have firsthand experience with the consequences that can result from inaction. McClinton is a survivor of a school shooting. Salas is a resident of Hidalgo county, a county with one of the lowest voter turnouts in the state.  Modigliani’s inclusion of their voices in his film allows for a fuller picture of the voter base O’Rourke has united.


Through its editing, Running With Beto  also highlights the uniqueness of O’Rourke’s campaign. Modigliani interjects several clips from Facebook Live. Reaction emoticons and comments pop up on the big screen as if it were a giant cellphone. The scenes not only bring the audience into the spirit of the moment but also exemplify a modern campaign approach; perhaps a necessary one since O’Rourke relied mostly on small, individual donations from his supporters. There is a certain trust that’s built when broadcasting live for the upcoming generation, combining immediate gratification with on the spot reality coming from their candidate. Modigliani fills the screen with up close shots of facial expressions that range between relief, joy, and frustration. Shots of O’Rourke’s wife Amy and the children truly relay their sentiment throughout.  


Viewers of Running With Beto should expect to relive their experiences with the midterm elections and more. Along with the inspiration, exasperation, and the dismay audiences will also see the sacrifices the O’Rourke family has made. O’Rourke’s children’s heartache when the last ring goes to voicemail, Beto’s early mornings in hotel lobbies and airplanes, and the miles of Texas roads travelled. Drama is not drummed up or caught the way that is common for reality media today.  Instead, it unfolds steadily and naturally with the midterm timeline. The pace of the film quickens as election day draws nearer. Dialogue becomes more urgent and direct, especially from the Congressman. It is a glimpse of O’Rourke’s leadership and willfulness to deliver his message his own way. Though the audience knows how the story ends, the energy in the theater somehow still mounts to palpable levels.

Running With Beto is not a film about why Beto should have won the election or why his point of view is right. It is the story of how the Democratic population of Texas found their drive. Combining O’Rourke’s persistence with that of active citizens’, the film reflects the people’s thirst for an antidote to the hardlined, negative platforms that run on being against new ideas. Modigliani showed a base rallying around the belief that it doesn’t take big money to run a successful campaign in Texas. A base that believes that there is power in refusing to roll in the mud.  A base that believes that they have a chance to make themselves heard. ‘Running With Beto’ leaves its audience feeling proud of a man willing to be the underdog and go against the grain in the most bonafide way. Many believe Beto’s race was exemplary, despite his loss, simply because it sets a precedent for bigger opportunities. Beto was asked about his 2020 plans after the screening but pivoted from the subject. He held off revealing his decision for nearly another week. On March 14, 2019, O’Rourke relieved his anxious supporters by finally announcing his 2020 presidential run saying, “at this moment of maximum peril and maximum potential let’s show ourselves, and those who will succeed us in this great country, just who we are and what we can do”.


Running with Beto is to be released on HBO May 28 according to IMDB.

Fashion Incubator Celebrates Grand Opening

Story and Photos by – Ruben Hernandez

The ACC Fashion Incubator recently celebrated its grand opening at ACC Highland, drawing in many students, faculty, and community members. The Fashion Incubator gives students an opportunity to learn skills utilized within the fashion industry, and work with local designers and businesses to help create a thriving fashion community in Austin. The grand opening was lead by its Director, Nina Means, on Tuesday, April 30.

“One of the reasons that the city of Austin approached us to start this program is because of the benefit that ACC has,” Means said. “We are really good at workforce development. We know how to prepare people to go back into the workforce. The city said, ‘How many different ways can you help people monetize their skills?’ If you come in with no knowledge, this is your opportunity to dip your toes in the continuing education classes to find out if this is something you really want to do.”

The Incubator is to serve as not only a way for students to learn new skills regarding fashion, but also as a medium for local businesses to grow.

“We’re also creating the most viable environment for a new start-up businesses to get housed,” Means said. “We do this so that they can get over what a lot of small businesses have a hard time with, like product development, which is an expensive experience.”

While fashion has its own style, it is essential that components of the fashion industry, like the Incubator, collaborates with other fields in order for it to truly flourish.

“Fashion is for everybody and is inclusive,” Means said. “That’s the message we want to promote from the Incubator. We’re devoted to being inclusive as an incubator and as a student experience. We also want to be collaborative and interdisciplinary with all the other departments of the college. How many different ways can we engage computer science? How can we engage the marketing team? If I could leave you with anything, that’s really core to how we operate. It’s an art.”

Both Gerber technology and the city of Austin have made investments in this incubator, hoping that it would grow to be a successful venue and resource for those using it. They have both invested a total of 13.1 million dollars towards equipment in software and hardware.

“We help small businesses by leveraging the Gerber technology system we have here,” Means said. “Gerber has really invested in giving us a high-tech solution to be able to help businesses grow. Not only are we going to give you the scholastic tools to succeed, but also the tactical tools as well.”

The Incubator was also made to appeal to local businesses in Austin, not only by teaching students the skills that employers are looking for, but also by giving the employers a chance to teach the students themselves.

“The local industry component is huge for us,” Means said. “One of the things we are striving to do with our sample working space is mirroring a lot of the equipment that is in a lot of local manufacturers here. This is so that you have a chance to train on the equipment that you would utilize in a manufacturing facility somewhere here in Austin. We train you here, and a local Austin business hires you, ready to go.”

Hands-on experience is something that many employers value, regardless of field. Attaining this experience as a student is valuable.

“Something like the Incubator allows the students to not only gain the academic knowledge, but to have hands-on experience with the software and hardware,” ACC President Richard Rhodes said. “The purpose is to actually take that concept and do something with it. It doesn’t stop there. There are other small start-up businesses that are using this space, so they have exposure and access to those entrepreneurs who are developing product. They get all of those skill sets wrapped together.”

Starting through the Fashion Incubator isn’t hard, either. Means and her team of educators are making sure students have what they need to succeed.

“Through the Incubator, you can take a group of fashion design classes through continuing education, and know enough to intern or even be a design assistant depending on how proficient you were before you started,” Means said. “If you’re interested in continuing your skills, we’re offering more advanced courses geared towards industry professionals who may not be working in the industry currently, but would like to be.”

Connections that the Incubator has with other businesses and groups has played a part in putting the whole project together, and ultimately, has the potential to help it reach success through sustainability and scalability.

“One of the great things about having good partners is that really creates the sustainability for the future and the scalability is in the outreach,” Rhodes said. “That is, outreach to schools, community, and community groups. The question is, ‘How do we bring those who have that passion to understand that we have a place for them right here at ACC?’”

The Incubator will also introduce The Vault, an opportunity for fashion design students to connect with local professionals and businesses.

“The Vault is an advisor network of local industry professionals that are in the woodwork and have raised their hands as being interested in what we’re doing here,” Means said. Those people are going to be available to advise our students and start-up businesses along the way.”

As one would expect, the classes here start with an Introduction to Fashion Design class. From there, it expands.

“I’m already designing stuff at home,” Callin said. “I’ve got eight or nine designs I’ve done already. I make mockups out of muslin, a cheap fabric, and then I have someone come and try those on. From there, seeing how it fits the model, I refine my design. Then, I can make it out of the nice and expensive fabric.”

Many different elements need to be taken into consideration when it comes to seeing how a design fits a person.

“For a garment to look good, it has to hang well on a person,” Callin said. “It has to compliment them, otherwise it looks like they are wearing an oversized trash bag. You have to have some idea of human anatomy to be able to make the clothes that go on that body, and do it in a way that’s going to be flattering.”

Designs are specific, as designing for a broad range of people can lead to problems. Narrowing down who you’re designing for seems to be most efficient.

“Certain companies market to certain body sizes and shapes, and as a designer you have to go down those paths,” Callin said. “You have to really pick the person you are designing for,. It can’t be everybody, otherwise you won’t have a consistent theme and you aren’t going to be successful. But, whatever path you go down, in my mind what you need to do is make sure that whatever you’re making is high quality. That will bring people back.”

Designing specifically for one group will also help you develop ideas further ahead when it comes to how you will approach your next design. Observing how your audience wears their clothes and what they do afterward is also key to your next step.

“Fashion is how we interact with clothing, and is more than a runway or modeling,” Means said. “Our trends that we operate from is driven just as much from the customer as it is from the retailer. Often times, it is observing how you like putting your pant with your top. From there, it’s generating what we think will be your next best option, that way it spurs your next purchase. In a broad space, it is a conversation.”

ACC offers many different programs ranging from a vast variety of fields, from video game design to culinary skills. Fashion will be another field that ACC will hold under its belt.

“It’s important to keep a diverse set of programs at ACC because we have students with so many different passions,” Rhodes said. “How do we provide, for those students, the opportunity to be successful? Not only that, but to be able to earn a living as a result of that. That’s a critical component.”

ACC Highland Point of Light for Take Back The Night

Written By Ruben Hernandez
Video By Nathaniel Torres

Austin Community College hosted its first ever Take Back the Night event, focused on the support of those who have undergone sexual assault or domestic violence. The event not only offered a variety of resources, but also a march through the main Highland Campus building and a speak out, where survivors were able to share their stories.

“Take Back the Night is a great event for students to get in contact with faculty, staff, and the community,“ Compliance Investigator Austin Wood said.
“It gives a platform for individuals to express themselves and share their stories. It’s also an opportunity to meet advocates and allies, connected with a population of support and passion. It’s a night of celebration and really making it through the hard and tough times.”

Take Back the Night maintained a high emphasis on the aspect of bonds and community, stating several times that those who have undergone assault or abuse aren’t alone. There are resources and people to help.
“It’s not something that anyone should have to deal with by themselves if they do feel that way,” Wood said. “It’s a really difficult thing that individuals have to go through, such trauma and such harm. But to know that there are resources such as this event and a community within the college itself, it really provides an outlet to know that they are not alone.”

Most notably during the Speak Out session, survivors were able to share their stories
and explain how far they have come since being abused or assaulted. Whoever wanted to share their story was welcome to walk up to the mic and start.
“The Speak Out began with an awesome keynote speaker,” Social and Civic Awareness and Student Life Coordinator Carrie Cooper said. “She shared her story about her leaving an abusive relationship while starting here at ACC. I think that was encouraging to other students and faculty staff members to come share their stories.”

Media has definitely played a part in spreading the message, but hearing it first-hand seems to have a different effect.
“It’s one thing to see statistics and news stories, but it’s another thing to hear someone’s actual story,” Cooper said. “It helps you put a person to the issue and realize why it’s so important for all of us to stand up against sexual and domestic violence. When you actually hear people’s stories, it spurs you on like nothing else will.”

ACC is one of the many campuses in the nation that holds a Take Back the Night event, but it is one of 10 campuses that will be featured by the Take Back the Night Foundation.
“The 10 Points of Light are 10 different campuses and locations that will be featured by the National Take Back the Night Foundation on April 25,” Cooper said. “I lead the TBTN planning committee, and after I applied, the national foundation reached out to me and asked if ACC would be interested in being featured.”

Victims of sexual assault or domestic violence can be anyone of any gender, skin color, race, or sexual identity. People are different, but the stories can be similar.
“What I learned from Take Back the Night is that everyone is different,” Riverbat Ambassador Jesse Fraga said. “These people were here sharing their stories, and expressing how they feel.”

Providing opportunities for victims is something that is widely emphasized, and resources such as counselors and the SAFE Alliance were there at Take Back the Night to emphasize that.
“What stuck out to me the most was how powerful it is to hear from other people who have been where you are,” Cooper said. “I think it is encouraging in a way that nothing else is encouraging. It’s good for students to be able to hear other peoples’ stories, and realize that they’re not alone and there’s nothing wrong with them.”

Fraga believes that support and encouragement are key to handling these types of situations.
“If that one person tells a friend about their situation, that friend needs to encourage that person to speak up,” Fraga said. “It’s really severe. That’s what Take Back the Night is about: how severe it can get and the support for those people. If you’re someone that has had a friend tell you about their tragedy, it’s our job to convince them to speak up or have them talk to a counselor because this can get very bad.”

With the recent #MeToo movement, sexual assault and domestic violence have become a more significant and serious topic. This was one of the things that started the effort to a better and more well-aware society.
“It’s a really hard and sometimes awkward thing to talk about,” Cooper said. “Obviously our culture has changed with the #MeToo movement. It still takes a lot to talk in front of a group of people in real life, which is a lot different than making a social media post. That still takes courage, but being present with people can make it healing in a way because you can see people who you see your own story in.”

People of all sorts of backgrounds have free access to these resources. No matter where you’re from or who you are, support is available for anyone in need of it.
“I think its a huge resource and shows that the college shows an emphasis on support,” Wood said. ”Everybody has a background and everyone goes through life experiences, and it’s important to know that there’s a place and an outlet for all individuals of diverse backgrounds. We all have different experiences and come from different places in life.”

The bond between community and victim is something that can make the world of a difference, and Take Back the Night was to serve as the connection between the two.
“I hear stories about how bad it can get without speaking up,” Fraga said. “I think that what the most important thing is: speak up no matter what. Whether you’re the friend or the victim, as a community we need to speak up louder and louder.”

Film Review: “Greener Grass” SXSW 2019 Premiere

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Review & Photo by Taylor Kokas

Haven written and starred in the short film of the same name that premiered at SXSW 2016, Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe are back in 2019 as writer/director duo and once again stars of their debut feature film, Greener Grass. An absurd satire about life in suburbia where people push politeness to the extreme, especially Jill (DeBoer) and Lisa (Luebbe), two soccer moms both married with children. From the beginning we are introduced to the theme of the film, it’s a bright clear sunny day, we find Jill and Lisa sitting on the benches gossiping about one of their friends while watching their son’s soccer game. Lisa interrupts their conversation having noticed that Jill is holding her new baby (which Jill has obviously been holding since the start of the film). Lisa compliments the baby “I love her”, which Jill is taken aback by her words and replies “Lisa…do you want her?”. By the end of the scene Lisa has literally adopted Jill’s new born baby.

I think the director duo succeeded in their mission to express the idea of how far are we willing to put politeness over our own happiness. Over the course of the movie we are shown that idea through Jills relationship with Lisa, as Jill puts politeness before happiness it begins to shatter her life while improving Lisa’s. This film also does a wonderful job of world building from the weekend soccer games, big houses with white picket fences, driving golf carts instead of cars, to every adult literally wearing braces. Sure there are times in the film where it feels redundant but if you posses this sense of humor it’s a must watch. Worth mentioning that SNL’s Beck Bennet plays Jill’s husband in the film, which was definitely a perfect casting choice. Speaking of, the closest comparison is Saturday Night Live, where every scene is pretty much a skit, pushing the absurdity just a little each time while still managing to tell the larger story at the core of every scene. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”5098″ img_size=”large” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]

Dawn Luebbe (Left), Jocelyn DeBoer (Right)


Film Review: “Olympic Dreams” SXSW World Premiere

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Review & Photo by Taylor Kokas Olympic Dreams is a sports romantic comedy directed by Jeremy Teicher that was shot during the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The film centers around Penelope (played by Teicher’s wife; Alexi Pappas) a 22 year old cross country skier who is trying to make the most out of her dream of being at the olympics, despite not making it onto the podium. Along the way she meets 37 year old volunteer dentist Ezra (played by television comedian Nick Kroll) who is eager to meet people and make the most out of his own Olympic experience. After Ezra introduces himself to Penelope in the Olympic dining hall while she is prepping for her race, the two continue to run into each other and begin to form a bond, sharing an experience at the games neither one ever expected they would have.

It’s worth knowing that throughout the majority of production the films crew only consisted of the director/camera op Jeremy and the two lead actors. All their dialogue is improvised, as well as majority of the scenes where locations, props, and actors weren’t always guaranteed. Because on the surface the acting can come off amateurish in comparison to what one usually expects from a film. But I think it’s very fitting for this story to have been told in this way, it’s emotionally raw and awkward which life can very much be. Plus what you see on screen is the actors performing in a completely natural environment, not a soundstage in sight. Jeremy Teicher went into this film knowing what story he wanted to tell. What is the olympians and volunteers daily life behind the scenes at the olympics? What is social life like? What’s going through their mind before their event? What does the olympics mean for them? It’s clear throughout the actual people these characters represent are all there sharing the same dream, each hoping their experience is what they imagined in their own way. They meet strangers, make friends, romantic flings that may or may not continue once they leave to go back to their daily lives. For fans of the rom-com genre this is a breath of fresh air.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”5079″ img_size=”large”][vc_column_text]

Alexi Pappas (Left), Nick Kroll (Right)