Making the Film You Want to See

Tal Shamir came to The New School to make films in New York City. Just one year out of the Media Studies program, Shamir is seeing his dream become a reality. His experimental film The Vermeers, which started as a class project, has been named a winner of a 2011 Student Academy Award.

Shamir is now in Los Angeles, where the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is putting him up for a week of Hollywood immersion, culminating with the awards ceremony on June 11.

Shamir arrived in LA looking forward to a packed week of screenings, industry parties, and networking events. But what means the most to him is the support of the academy for films like his. This award is such a great source of inspiration for me, because it shows that a low-budget, experimental, alternative film can get serious recognition from the academy,, Shamir says.

Originally undertaken as a project in a sound design course, The Vermeers lets viewers experience the work of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer through the perspective of a digital media-influenced generation. The result is a fast-paced, complex film that combines the content of a traditional art film with the structure of a film trailer. Shamir sought to give our generation perspective on the past while being loyal to the technological innovations of the present.,

While the award has certainly boosted Shamir’s confidence as a filmmaker, one collaborator in particular gave him the confidence to make the film in the first place: his mother. Serving as the art director, Shamir’s mother, an art historian, ensured that the film portrayed Vermeer’s work accurately.

The Vermeers isn’t the first New School film to find success at the Student Academy Awards. Last year’s winner in the Alternative category was Parsons alumnus Varathit Uthaisri, who creates work under the name TU+, a friend of Shamir’s. And this year’s runner up in the Documentary category was documentary studies alumnus Anthony Weeks. In fact, many of Shamir’s collaborators and influences come from his time at The New School. I had a fantastic experience,, Shamir says. I couldn’t ask for more.,

When asked what advice he would give an aspiring filmmaker, he quotes one of those influences, Media Studies faculty member Vlad Nikolic: Make the film you want to see., It was the best piece of advice a professor could possibly give,, says Shamir. That’s what I got as a student. And that’s what I did.,

As for the film, Shamir is submitting it to festivals in hopes of even more exposure. I hope this is just the beginning,, he says. I want to get the film in front of as many people as possible.,