Alumni Gather for Film’s 50th Anniversary

November 11, 2019

On Saturday, Nov. 3, the University of the Arts Film program celebrated its 50th anniversary with an event called Spotlight on Film. Attendees included alumni from the past 50 years, along with the first class to graduate, the Class of 1968. This is the first University of the Arts reunion for any class in the Film program. The event featured a panel of alumni moderated by Program Director Mike Attie. 

Panelists included alumni who span the past 50 years:

Seth Kramer ’96
Kramer is a three-time Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker.  He is the co-founder of Ironbound Films, which creates documentaries for theaters, television, museums and the web. 

Nadia Hironaka ’97
Hironaka is a filmmaker in Philadelphia. She is currently the Chair of the Film and Video department at The Maryland Institute College of Art. In 2015, Hironaka received the Guggenheim Fellowship. 

Miller Drake ’72 
Drake is a visual effects editor who has worked in the industry for over 40 years. His work includes films such as The Abyss ‘99, Green Lantern ‘11, The 6th Day ‘00 and Virus ‘99. 

Andrew Wheeler ’01
Wheeler is the Director of Photography on feature films, commercials and music videos. He has worked on music videos for Ariana Grande, Bruno Mars, Childish Gambino and the Netflix series Small Crimes. In 2014 Wheeler was named one of the 'Below the Line All Stars' by Variety magazine. 

Vanessa Martino ’14. 
Martino is a director, producer and editor. She has worked as the associate producer and editor for the documentary The Rape of Recy Taylor. She is currently a producer at Augusta Films in New York. 

The panelists spoke of hardships faced as a professional in the film industry. Hironaka recalled, “I had no grand notions of making a living as an artist…To be a full time artist, it’s pretty hard. That balance of the job and your artmaking is pretty tricky...You have to love making it.” Drake chimed in with his own experience, “I remember everybody said you’re not going to make a living out of being an artist, and this was back in 1972...I remember everybody went out and got ‘regular’ jobs, and it was very hard.” 

Panelists also gave advice to students to take advantage of opportunities in Philadelphia. Martino said of her own experiences at the University, “If I didn’t do all the work I did here and really build my resume on set, I don’t know if those jobs (in New York) would have wanted me." She continued, “Don’t take no for an answer. If you have faith that you can do it, any opportunity you have to show your work, do it.” 

Seth Kramer, Mike Attie, Nadia Hironaka, Miller Drake, Andrew Wheeler , Vanessa Martino, photographed by Skylar Watkins

The night culminated in an announcement of the 2019 Peter Rose Film Award recipient, Kyrie Clemmer ‘20. The Peter Rose Film Award honors the legacy of experimental filmmaker and UArts faculty emeritus Peter Rose, who taught at the University for over 40 years. Rose mentored generations of filmmakers, and according to Attie, Rose described his cinematography class as “introducing different ways of seeing the world.” The award honors a student who encompasses that mission. Clemmer’s work spans documentary, narrative and experimental film; the award will fund the production of their thesis film. 

The Film 50th Anniversary was truly a celebration of UArts filmmakers past and present. The event was photographed by current Film student Skylar Watkins ’21.