College of Arts and Letters | Dec. 9, 2013 | Spotlight

‘Debra’s Share’ thesis honored at CSU Media Arts Festival

Teaser video by CSULA student garners second place in narrative category

Pictured: Montica Pes.
L-r: Crystal Fambrini, industry judge and producer, presents CSULA student Montica Pes a certificate for winning second place in the CSU Media Arts Festival. Pictured: screen capture of video project.
A scene from the second-place winning video project, Debra’s Share, produced by CSULA student Montica Pes.

Featuring individuals whose addiction consists of an uncontrollable craving for human flesh, CSULA student Montica Pes’ video, entitled Debra’s Share, puts a ghoulish twist on the common thesis project.

Her gut-wrenching project, which portrays zombie-ism as an addiction, was also submitted and awarded second place in the narrative category at the 23rd annual CSU Media Arts Festival awards competition.

“This is wonderful to receive such an honor from the CSU,” said Pes, who is working toward her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Television, Film and Theatre (TVFT). “The video is a teaser that introduces viewers to the world (my upcoming movie) of Flesheaters Anonymous.”

The festival, which took place Nov. 9 at Cal State Fullerton, showcases the best student work in film, video and new media from throughout the California State University system.

The competition drew 135 entries from the 23 CSU campuses. Selected for festival sreening were the works of 31 finalists in the following nine categories: animation, documentary, experimental, interactive, music video, narrative, television, feature screenplay, and short screenplay.

Flesheaters Anonymous will be Pes’ first feature film. It is a black comedy that exposes the realities of addiction with an apocalyptic spin.

“At the moment Rick Ashmore awakens—chained to a hospital bed, soaked with blood, no memory of the recent past, and a most fetid tasted in his mouth—he knows he has hit rock bottom,” explained Pes. “The doctors inform him he suffers from Flesheaters, an incurable and progressive disease which turns its host into a crazed, homicidal walking deadman with a predilection for live human flesh. Very much like a zombie.”

The story continues where Rick is wondering if he had attacked his best friend and trashed his apartment during his black out, or if he ate his girlfriend, Sam, who happens to be missing.

“Montica Pes did an amazing job creating her video as it shows her skill in pulling together the different elements needed in the filmmaking process,” said Professor Alan Bloom, who is Pes’ TVFT MFA thesis chair at CSULA. “Debbie’s Share really grabs the audience and doesn’t let go.”

Pes, who has an extensive career as a stage director, moved to Los Angeles to learn filmmaking. While in L.A., she has produced and directed nine shorts, including: Love, Traffic and Nothing Passed Between Us But Soap. At CSULA, she is focused on producing films and is completing her graduate degree in 2014.

“We are so proud of Monty, and delighted that our MFA students have once again placed highly in this remarkable CSU-wide competition,” said Kristiina Hackel, director of the university’s MFA in TVFT program.

Also, awarded at the festival was CSULA student Eseraele Alemu, who received third place in the experimental category for his video, Long Ago. He credits Professors Connie Utterback and Mika Cho for encouraging him to submit his work for consideration for the festival.

“Being part of the CSU Media Arts Festival for the first time was a humbling experience. A great way to view works of other CSU students and meet others with the same passion,” said Alemu, an animation major with an interest in film production who will be pursuing graduate school next year. “I’ve loved art as far back as I can remember and learning digital forms of art has exponentially expanded possibilities in terms of what I would have achieved with just a pencil and paper, which on its own is quite grandiose.”