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Post Alumni Win Top Prize at International Film Fest

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LIU Post welcomed a pair of alumni to screen their critically acclaimed feature film on February 29, as Paul Taylor ‘09 and Alex Megaro ’09 hosted a special screening of "Driftwood" in the Gold Coast Cinema, part of the campus’s Hillwood Commons. Following the screening of Driftwood – which won the Grand Jury prize for Best Narrative Feature at the Slamdance International Film Festival in Park City, Utah  - writer/director/cinematographer Taylor and producer/editor Megaro shared their wisdom with students in the College of Arts, Communication and Design through a question and answer session. 

Devoid of dialogue and rooted in Greek mythology, Driftwood tells the story of a young woman (Joselyn Jensen) who washes up on a mysterious shore and is held as a captive, infantile wife to a lonely bald man (Paul C. Kelly) in a cabin. Taylor cited the tale of Charon who shuttles the dead to Hades over the river Styx, as a primary influence. In this case, the beach imagery and symbolism suggests the lead character to be a soul who hasn't fully made the journey. The film was shot on a small budget, raised with the Kickstarter service, during a six-day trip to upstate New York.

In addition to dissecting the subtleties of their film, Taylor and Megaro provided advice to those seeking to enter the film world. "Watch everything. Even if you don't like it, learn why. Don't just think something is [bad] because it is slow," said Megaro. 

Taylor stressed the advantage of having resources at LIU Post as an undergrad. "You have access to free gear," he said. "Use it while you can." 

Both filmmakers are accomplished in their own right, working consistently in the business since graduation in a mix of staff and freelance capacities. “I’ve mostly worked editing jobs, since they are the most common to encounter,” said Taylor. The director has also spent significant time behind the camera, not only for “Driftwood” but numerous short and feature films, including “Eidos” -- a thesis short by 2013 LIU alum Louis D’arpa.

Megaro noted that the professors at LIU Post were critical in their learning as young filmmakers. He credited Professors Soopum Sohn, Elizabeth Robinson and Michael Atkinson for helping him. "Soopum helped us get onto film sets," he said. 'Listen [to the professors]. They know what they're talking about. Don't disavow advice because you think you know better.” 

While accepting that their tastes in film are not definitive, both filmmakers stressed the notion of being open to experimental films, not just the mainstream. "Just understand that there are thousands of people doing the same thing, so it's going to be hard for you to stand out," Taylor said of the pursuit of Hollywood writing and filmmaking jobs. 

The most important advice, according to Taylor, is to think different. “Make things outside of the box, not just what is easy,” he said. Make films that push the boundaries and are different, so when you graduate you'll know what works and what doesn't.”     

Written by Peter Barell, LIU Post Film Student

Posted 03/07/2016

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