Justin Wan, Mason Film & Video Summer Camp 2020 alumnus, recently won the Grand Champion prize at the Montgomery County Fair 2020. “After I finished attending George Mason University’s filmmaking camp, I decided to create another short film to practice the skills I had learned. To my surprise, I had received the prize for turning in a small project of mine. I was motivated and encouraged to further my hobby of filmmaking,” Wan said.
A first-timer of Mason Community Arts Academy’s Filmmaking Workshop, Wan advanced his technical skills and dived into deep learning of the filmmaking process with award-winning producer and George Mason University professor Lisa Thrasher.
“I always talk with the Summer Filmmaking Workshop students about applying to college film programs and film festivals with their camp films. One of the 2018 & 2019 participants started as a Film and Video Studies major at Mason this fall. Now, Wan’s award is another exciting first for our Summer Filmmaking Workshop alumni. It’s a thrill to see their drive and successes,” said Professor Thrasher.
A rising filmmaker with a passion for documentary and visual poems, Wan said it wasn’t an easy process at first when finding ideas that represent him. As he continued to think about the meaning of life while experiencing a global pandemic, Wan started to experiment with a short visual poem to share his reflections of life and his path.
“I enjoy these types of genres because whenever there is a pressing issue, I feel like it can be voiced through a film,” Wan explained, a freshman at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. “No matter how small or big the topic at hand is, I enjoy making these types of films. It offers a voice to me and to the many other filmmakers who have a message to pass on.”
“Justin displayed an advanced level of commitment to artistry and drive for filmmaking, which resulted in a beautiful and moving short film.” Thrasher shared her interaction with Wan during the two weeks of the filmmaking Summer program.
Demonstrating much talent and interest in multimedia storytelling, Wan said that the process of brainstorming ideas, executing the shoots, and creating a visual story is a gratifying experience that inspires him to advance his love for filmmaking.
“It’s inspiring to see young filmmakers create,” Professor Thrasher said of her experience working with Summer Filmmaking Workshop participants. “With today’s technology and so much access to behind-the-scenes videos from their favorite directors, many young filmmakers have already honed their creative vision and craft to a point that they are already creating college-level work. I’m excited to see where they go next.”
With the recent success of winning an award, Wan is working on a new documentary for the C-SPAN StudentCam Competition, combining his interest in filmmaking with voicing his opinion.
“This was something that fit right in my alley,” said Wan. “But to be honest, this was a little out of my comfort zone, so having a friend push me was important when undertaking these daunting projects.”
Wan enjoys making films as a hobby and is looking forward to further improving his skills through more creative projects. “For all of the people who say that filmmaking is just a hobby, I say that you guys are already a step ahead,” said Wan. “Continue to do what you enjoy with passion and persistence. To those of you reading, I hope that you don’t give up on something before you even have the chance to try it.”