Fine Cut film fest students pose
From left, Chapman University award-winning filmmakers Sara Rose Nell '21 and Claire Jantzen '21 are joined by Zhijia “Alex” Jiang and De’Onna Young-Stephens of USC and Cal Arts’ Lee Witz at KCET's Fine Cut Festival of Films. (Photo courtesy of KCET)

Student Filmmaker Earns Top Prize at Fine Cut Festival

Chapman University alumni filmmakers Claire Jantzen ’21 and Sara Rose Nell ’21 recently earned top honors at the Fine Cut Festival of Films in Los Angeles for their evocative short film “Your Friend, Ranger Doug,” made when they were students of Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

Co-directors Jantzen and Nell were presented with the Jack Larson Southern California Student Filmmaker Award, which recognizes “exceptional storytelling,” during the 22nd annual Fine Cut Festival on Sept. 28 at the Montalban Theatre in Hollywood. KCET, which conducts the festival, has made  “Your Friend, Ranger Doug” available for streaming.

The filmmakers each received a package of prizes valued at $12,000.

The 17-minute film, produced as part of Chapman’s Community Voices student documentary project, tells the story of park ranger Doug Follett, 94, as he reflects on the many environmental changes at his beloved Glacier National Park during his more than 50 years of service. By focusing on Follett’s memories and experiences, the filmmakers humanize the effects of climate change, which is causing the park’s glaciers to disappear.

In Follett, the filmmakers found a rich story subject and a natural storyteller.

“That’s exactly what you want in terms of an interview and character — someone who isn’t just saying it, but has something to say and share,” Nell told KCET.

Other Chapman filmmakers who were integral to the project include producer Kayla Borkovec ’20, cinematographer Céline Francois ’20 and second editor Lexi Johnson ’20.

The team of Chapman creative artists credits good fortune for the chance to meet Follett in his natural Montana environment and share his stories.

“We just got lucky,” Francois told KCET. “He called us back and decided to put his faith in this random group of filmmakers from California.”


Dennis Arp

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