Spotlight on students: a short film by director Eduardo Hernandez 22 inspired by the filmmaking community of Dartmouth

Created for his senior thesis, the film highlights the beauty of life by exploring unexpected romantic connections.

By Alexandra Surprinant | 5/3/22 2:00 AM

Source: Courtesy of Eduardo Hernandez

Film major Eduardo Hernandez started 22 behind the camera in middle school, throwing morning ads and shooting sketches about the lunch menu. He found the experience “interesting” – he is now producing and directing a short film for his senior thesis titled “I Hope You Don’t Mind What I Put In Words”. Scheduled to be completed by the end of spring, the short focuses on the joyous early stages of love, featuring Annabelle Everett 25 and Jack Heavy 24.

Hernandez began taking film lessons as a new student at Dartmouth, along with enthusiastic friends who were also keen on making art. Hernandez cites professors as influential in establishing his passion for filmmaking, particularly film and media studies professors Mark Williams and Iyabo Koyana. Hernandez said he found out through their classes what kind of films he wanted to make.

“My experience was all about the professors,” Hernandez said. “[Professors] They’ve always shown an act that goes above and beyond, not just to be grotesque or shocking, but to really stir up emotions at home.”

In addition to the professors, Hernandez said he thrived on the strong collective energy generated by Dartmouth’s filmmaking community. Hernandez described how this community of motivated students encourages creativity, rather than sparking competitive tension.

“A lot of people at school are really hungry for filmmaking,” Hernandez said. “I have come [to Dartmouth] A very fortunate time when so many people are equally passionate and equally dedicated to making good films, as well as to putting in the work to become good artists.”

Hernandez emphasized the power of collaboration in filmmaking, a position that fuels much of his operation. Shevaun Aysa Mizrahi Professor of Film and Media Studies worked with Hernandez through the Leaders Program where this kind of collaboration was key. According to Mizrahi, the film department selects a few “outstanding students” who serve as mentors for younger students. This year, Hernandez served as captain.

“He’s a wonderful person and incredibly generous with his time,” said Mizrahi. “He was available for all kinds of projects, some that were well organized and had a clear vision but also some that needed a lot of care and attention. He invested a lot in building the community and specifically in creating the filmmaking community at Dartmouth.”

This sense of community and collaboration has proven to be an integral part of Hernandez’s upcoming short film. Hernandez stressed the importance of a synergistic environment for the filmmaking process, in which the boundaries between roles—director, screenwriter, actors, and crew—can blur.

“Everyone on my team thinks in unique and special ways,” Hernandez said. “…It is a radical process that is not centered around a single director, but is more collaborative.”

Malik Terrap 25, who worked on the short film with Hernandez, said he was particularly inspired by Hernandez’s tireless process and dedication to work.

“It gave me a lot of faith in the department because this isn’t a film school, it’s a liberal arts school,” Trapp said. “[Hernandez] He is a big advocate of production. It showed me that it is possible to make high-quality films here.”

According to Hernandez, the short film is a kind of love story. Everett and Heavi play Audrey and Max, two people who meet at a party and then leave together, leading to an intimate interaction in Audrey’s car. Hernandez said he draws not only from his own life, but from the experiences of the entire cast. In the writing process—and even during filming—Hernandez asked the actors to think about their own memories of the exciting first moments of love.

“[My short film] It’s about a night out with friends, but it’s really about meeting that person,” Hernandez said. “There is this unspoken energy but it is very present. There is tension and excitement. It’s very exciting.”

Hernandez specified that the film does not take place in a single time period. Instead, he describes the short film as “rom-com borrowing from different eras.” Besides costume design, designing a movie set requires careful planning: one scene requires 1,000 lights rolling downhill. Hernandez hopes that his short film will generate an emotional response in viewers, unlike other films that might elicit a logical response.

People usually watch movies the same way they analyze literature. “I want my work to be different,” Hernandez said. “I want you to feel something…to feel like something new…to come back to it and watch it again because it evokes those feelings you have for this special person.”

Hernandez explained that his short film is mostly motivated by an honest vulnerability and an investment in the beauty of life.

“What most informs my work is emotion and human experience,” Hernandez said. “I want to make films that have something new, fresh, and subtle to say about what it means to be alive and what it’s like to be human in the moment.”

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