Tag Archives: college film program

A Glance Into PUC’s Film Program from Professor Tim de la Torre – Assistant Professor of Visual Arts

Tim de la Torre has been working at PUC for 10 years now. He graduated from PUC’s film program in 2006, with the college’s location and the Visual Arts Department holding a special place in his heart. There was a moment of transition in his life when Dean Milbert Mariano (then chair of the visual arts department) called to ask if Tim would be interested in interviewing for an instructor position. He’s so thankful Dean Milbert and his department saw potential in him because “It’s been a fantastic fit”. 

Tell us about PUC’s film and television production program.

Our program here at PUC is unique in so many good ways! The diversity of our student body is a real benefit to our writers and artists who are exploring topics that matter to them. It allows them to have the benefit of input from people from different intersecting identities that can help each other avoid stereotypes and cliché’s that are easy to miss when you create in an echo chamber. 

I am really proud of the culture we’ve created where students learn hands-on production skills with the equipment and make high-quality films through practice. Our rural location and residential campus housing mean students end up spending a lot of time in Fisher Hall and feel a sense of belonging and shared ownership of the space. We are like a family. It also means we are always making and creating because we live our lives in this space. 

What are the class sizes?

Our department has 40-50 students in 3 disciplines: film, graphic design, and fine art. Our small class sizes mean you will know all of your professors and student cohort. It allows faculty to really help mentor and guide you as we get to know you throughout the years of your program. 

Is there a class you enjoy teaching the most?

Group Production is my favorite class. It’s where we meet twice a week, and students pitch ideas for film projects they want to create, and we support the students in producing their ideas. There are always incredible projects that come out of that class! 

What equipment is available for students? 

We have everything you would expect to see on the set of a major motion picture production. We have a fully loaded grip truck for location production, high-end cinema cameras, and smaller cameras with differing unique use cases, such as documentary and low-light environments. We also have a huge range of lenses, including anamorphic, cinema zooms, probe lenses, tilt-shift lenses, and vintage glass. 

In the last couple of years, we even taught classes using Unreal Engine for film production and have a senior finishing her thesis project using Unreal Engine. The best way to understand is to reach out to the professors and come and visit us. If there is something specific you want to explore, chances are we have the tools to do that or the ability to obtain them and support you in pursuing your interests.  

Do students need internships? 

I always say the most important class you’ll take at PUC is your internship, which ideally, does not take place at PUC! It’s where you take your skills, knowledge, and professional and interpersonal skills and go out and get real-world experience that often leads to a job after graduation! 

What are the highlights from your department this year? 

We worked on multiple projects funded by the Sonscreen Film Festival, which allowed us to cast professional actors and even hire some professional crew to work alongside our student crew. The level of production quality and experience our students gained from this really helped us make up for the time we were teaching online during COVID when those students didn’t have as many opportunities to develop set experiences. 

Where do some of your graduates work? 

We have many alums in LA working in film as writers, directors, editors, and in the camera department. Others created their own companies and are documentarians, corporate and non-profit production. Some have gone on to work for various church-based organizations such as Hope Channel, Amazing Facts, and 3ABN. 

What should future film and television students know and prepare for before college? 

Bring your curiosity and hunger to learn. Be prepared to work hard. It’s the only way to close the gap between your taste and skill.  

PUC faculty and students and alumni attend the Sonscreen Film Festival in April 2023. Eight PUC student films were selected as official entries and PUC won three categories and was runner-up in two other categories.

The Visual Arts Department grip truck makes transporting all of the equipment necessary for location production possible!

Running a demo shoot for College Days in 2023.

On the set of “Radish Soup” which will be completed in late 2023. 

Tim de la Torre and student Josue Hilario prepping the location before production begins of “Inner Space” in May 2023. 

Prepping the location before production begins of “Inner Space” in May 2023. 

“Inner Space” production in May 2023. 

Make sure to check out their YouTube channel www.youtube.com/pucfilm and follow their Instagram @pucart for upcoming projects!

PUC Alum Sierra Lewis Wins the Jury Award at Sonscreen Film Festival 

Sonscreen is an Adventist film festival hosted by the NAD that takes place every year during the spring in Southern California. This year, Sonscreen was in Loma Linda, CA, where more than 20 PUC film students and alums attended, along with professors Rajeev Sigamoney and Tim de la Torre. At the festival, they attended film screenings, professional showcases, participated in a pitch competition, and attended the awards banquet.

PUC film and television honors alum Sierra Lewis ‘22 has attended the festival three times and sadly couldn’t make it out to this year’s festival like she hoped. Sierra has always enjoyed going since it’s a great time to bond with the department and connect with other filmmakers and creatives from other schools. During this year’s festival, she won the Jury Award and was runner-up for Best Documentary. 

What does winning the Jury Award mean to you? 

Since graduating from PUC, it hasn’t been as easy to find/make time for my art, and I’m not working in a “creative field” at the moment. But winning the Jury Award means a lot because it gave me that validation that reminded me that I’m on the right track, despite what it looks like- and that I shouldn’t give up because there’s a place for my work and for these stories to be told in the world.

Share with us about the project you submitted for this category.

The project I submitted to the festival was my senior thesis documentary titled, Echoes. My intention was to explore the idea of what “do it yourself” (DIY) looks like within the Black community and its intersectionality between arts and politics.

I was lucky enough to get to know some amazing artists from a collective called Nure (based in Oakland, CA), and I juxtaposed their stories alongside found/archival footage that I felt “echoed” what was being said. At least for me, the idea of Black DIY is something that feels like a cultural heritage, and I hope that the film was able to showcase that tradition.

You were also Best Documentary Runner-Up at the festival. Talk to us about your documentary.

As far as inspiration for the film, I’m inspired by creative and introspective people. People who think and philosophize about life, and can’t help but synthesize their thoughts and feelings with a creative outlet.

In any case, for most (if not all) of my films, I tend to be led by music. I always make a playlist that helps me enter the right headspace for the project that I’m working on. For Echoes, there were a lot of Moses Sumney, Solange, and moody jazz instrumentals.

How did you develop an interest in filmmaking? Did you know you always wanted to do this?

Oh boy. My interest in filmmaking actually developed from Youtube. When I was a high school freshman, I had a YouTube channel with a close friend, which lasted for a few years. As time went on, I wanted to keep pushing myself further to make videos of quality, vs just silly challenges or whatever. Eventually, I made my first little short film and started doing character profiles on my friends. My mom thought I should study film in college, so you can say the rest is history haha. 

How has being a student at PUC helped you grow as a filmmaker? 

Oh my goodness, being a student at PUC has expedited so much of my growth as a filmmaker and artist. There’s such great energy in the Visual Arts Department at Fisher Hall. Our professors give so much to provide us with great experiences both inside and outside of the classroom, from the various film projects to the different excursions like trekking down to Sonscreen Film Festival. It’s a beautiful, safe space, and I’ve always felt supported by my teachers and peers. Fisher feels like home. 

Is there someone at PUC that has made an impact on you?

Gosh so many. If I had to give names, I’d say Michael Jefferson, Dean Philpott, and every teacher in the Visual Arts Department- no explanation needed. 

Can you share any future projects with us?

At the moment, I’m trying to work on an accompanying zine for my thesis film. Sort of like supplementary material, and other than that, I’m working on putting out movie reviews/film critiques and experimenting with different formats for that kind of content too. Anything else, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. 😉 

#FacultyFriday: Meet Rajeev Sigamoney

For this week’s #FacultyFriday feature, meet Rajeev Sigamoney, an associate professor of film and television production in the department of visual arts. He has over 14 years of film experience as a writer, director, and producer for a variety of film projects, including feature-length films, TV series, and web series. He has also participated in and presented at many film conferences, seminars, and festivals, including the Napa Valley Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival.

Though he has only been at PUC since 2012, Sigamoney has already made a huge impact on our campus. He has been the faculty advisor for the Film Club and for the Student Association video yearbook editor for several years, and also served as the executive director for the annual Diogenes Film Festival, which showcases student projects at the nearby Cameo Cinema in St. Helena.

Name: Rajeev Sigamoney
Title: Associate professor of film and television production and film program coordinator
Email: rsigamoney@puc.edu
Faculty since: 2012

Classes taught: Short Scriptwriting I & II, Screenwriting I & II, Group Production, Cinematic Storytelling, Marketing & Distribution, Senior Thesis

Education: Bachelor’s in electrical/computer engineering from Johns Hopkins University, 1997; masters in technical management from Johns Hopkins University, 2002; masters of fine art in screenwriting from Academy of Art, 2016

Professional activitiesVisit Rajeev’s IMDB page to see his professional work.

What made you decide to be a teacher?
I enjoy being around young people and the ability to support the next generation of artists was something that excited me. Being able to do this in an Adventist school gives me the opportunity to develop the entire individual—making sure my students are valued and loved, apart from their work, something many artists seem to lose along the way.

What are some of your hobbies?
My favorite thing is to learn about different cultures and religions. Where we come from and what beliefs we hold most dear tell us the most about someone. So I constantly seek out to experience new places, events or people who will open up my world to something new.

What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I spent 10 years working in Hollywood and while there, got to work with Academy Award-winning actress Octavia Spencer, and Emmy Award winners Tony Hale and Melissa McCarthy. I consider these years of experiences (good & bad) in the film industry to be the greatest asset I have to give my students.

What’s your favorite thing about PUC?
Diversity. Not just in the ethnicity of our students but in variety of thought. I love when I teach a screenwriting course, one student might be writing a romantic comedy, another an international drama, and another an epic sci-fi action film. Putting these students with diverse ideas into the same room together creates an experience I believe makes PUC one of a kind.

What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Fisher Hall. This building I spend the majority of my days in ends up being home to many of my film students. I get no greater joy than watching them hanging out with one another, spending late nights in the lab, and watching television in the lounge. I hope the experience of acceptance and creativity they get during their four years will be a model of a healthy community they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

What’s your favorite movie?
My favorite film is “Monsoon Wedding” by Mira Nair. It is a film that captures the intricacies of Indian life, balancing the good and bad of heritage and Western ideals. Every time I watch it, it makes me think, cry and laugh. It’s perfect from beginning to end.

What advice would you give to an incoming freshman?
Consider your education part of your career. What you do during your years of college, especially within film and television, aren’t just in preparation to become a filmmaker—they are what makes you a filmmaker. We just had a student develop a web series in a Group Production course that just paid her $10,000 more to develop a full season. Time and time again, I have seen student projects move them forward in their career, but only if they initially took the assignments seriously as part of their career in the first place.

Interested in learning more about PUC’s film & television program? Visit puc.edu/admissions!