A chance meeting and a simple sneeze led a Cañada College multimedia student to produce a five-minute film that will be featured at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
Sir Wade Neistadt was notified by email last week that his short film, KERFLOOEY, is one of 26 student-produced films that will be featured in the Short Film Corner, one of three main sections of the famous French film festival. In addition, Neistadt’s film will be featured at Universal Studios in Hollywood in June as part of a three-day red carpet event where industry professionals host workshops and network with student filmmakers from around the country.
The idea for KERFLOOEY came from Neistadt and Cañada College classmate Melissa Loi, an aspiring writer. They met in a psychology course section. “When I met Wade he was trying to add the psychology class I was already registered for. He came into class and sneezed, I said ‘bless you,’ and we ended up doing ice breaker work in class. We paired up and became friends,” Loi said.
Neistadt, who grew up in Apple Valley and attended Granite Hills High School, transferred to Cañada from CSU San Marcos because he wanted to be in Silicon Valley to pursue his dream of making films. “I researched community colleges in the area and Cañada was the only school with both a good computer science program and multimedia program. When I visited the school last spring, I met Paul Naas, program coordinator for the Multimedia Art & Technology Program, and he convinced me Cañada was the right place for me.”
Neistadt began refining his video editing and special effects skills under the tutelage of Cañada faculty, many who have worked at major studios such as Disney, Pixar and Wildbrain. “The storytelling the faculty has done over the years for those studios is experience that a motivated student can draw from,” Naas said. “It’s pretty unique among community college animation and multimedia programs. Wade’s the kind of student who digs deeper into a subject – asking questions, incorporating feedback, and leveraging the knowledge and experience of faculty to make his projects better.”
What Neistadt couldn’t foresee was the simple sneeze that led him to meet Loi would be the catalyst for the creation of Manly Man, the protagonist in KERFLOOEY.
When Neistadt learned last November that Campus MovieFest, the world’s largest student film festival and a premier outlet for the next generation of filmmakers, would be at Cañada to host a competition, he was determined to enter. He ran into Loi, a graduate of Carlmont High School, at the Cañada College Learning Center and they talked about the competition and began reviewing five-minute films on YouTube created by their favorite stars. That’s when Loi had an idea.
“I thought it would be cool to make a movie about a superhero, since everyone seems obsessed with comic book characters…but maybe a superhero that can’t quite save the world at the moment.”
Manly Man, Sub City’s local superhero, was born but, unlike most superheroes, he wasn’t invincible. He was fighting a cold at the same time he was saving Sub City from the fearsome Madame Mayhem. As the story unfolds, every Manly Man sneeze brings Madame Mayhem closer to defeat while giving Neistadt an opportunity to display the special effects skills he refined in his Cañada classes. “I remembered that sneeze from our first meeting,” Loi said. “I began thinking about how people love comic books and they love to laugh. Comedy is a popular genre because it makes people happy and sometimes making people happy means purposefully falling on top of a garbage can several times.”
“Melissa wrote the story and it was brilliant,” Neistadt said. “I couldn’t have made this movie without her.”
They entered their film in the Campus MovieFest competition at Cañada and received a Silver Tripod Award for “Best Special Effects,” a Best Actor Award for Neistadt’s portrayal of Manly Man, and, to their amazement, the Best Picture Award.
“At the campus awards ceremony, we were told that Campus MovieFest has the opportunity to send about 30 student films to the Cannes Film Festival,” Neistadt said. “I was shocked to find out our film was chosen.”
Naas said having a film at Cannes is a major accomplishment for any filmmaker. “For a student filmmaker to achieve this is spectacular. I’m thrilled Wade’s hard work is being acknowledged. He has a very cinematic eye and several of the shots in the film are quite innovative.”
Loi said the movie’s success has surprised her. “I honestly didn’t expect this much attention to come out of our little movie, but I guess because I’m one of the film’s creators, all I see are the little things that went wrong.”
Manly Man’s sneezes will lead Neistadt to the Villa Maupassant Hotel in the south of France May 12-26 where KERFLOOEY will be featured at the film festival.
“While I’m there, I will be walking the red carpet with actors, directors, producers, and all sorts of celebrities,” he said. “I’ll be watching the world premiers of the Cannes Official Selection, going to workshops and Q&A sessions and making connections with a bunch of amazing and talented people. I still can’t believe this is happening.”
KERFLOOEY can be viewed at http://youtu.be/M2Osdbg1Vt0