Arts and Culture / News

Student documentary to screen at film festival

Jesus Sierra will screen his documentary at the Estes Park Film Festival on Sept. 16.

Jesus Sierra loves documentaries so much that he tries to watch a new one every day.

And his passion for what he calls “horrible movies” is such that two summers ago he watched every National Lampoon movie ever made. Not just the ones you’ve heard of, like Vacation and Animal House, but the ones few people saw, like 1998’s Golf Punks and 2003’s Dorm Daze.

“It’s still a running joke among my friends,” Sierra says. “They will look up new National Lampoon movies and say ‘You’ve got to watch this.’”

Fortunately, it’s Sierra’s documentary-loving side that’s on display in Right Click > Find Date, a short film about online dating that the second-year grad student helped make as part of a documentary class in DU’s department of media, film and journalism studies. Sierra and fellow grad students Pete Ellis and Keri Noll tried to find someone else to be their guinea pig, but when time ran out Sierra volunteered to sign up for and document his progress in the world of online romance.

SPOILER ALERT: In the month it took to make the film, Sierra didn’t get a single date, making for a short film that unintentionally subverts audience expectations by failing to provide a happy ending.

“I was pretty bummed,” he says with a laugh. “I’m still a little bummed about it. You can see in the beginning where we have so much hope that I’m at least going to get a date, and even in the filming process all our classmates were like, ‘How’s it going?’ and we were kind of lying to them because we didn’t want to give away the ending of the film, and we still had hope that I would get a date, even to the last day.”

The filmmakers shot more than 40 hours of film that they had to cut down to 15 minutes. The finished product was a hit at DU’s student documentary showcase in June, and on Sept. 16 it will screen as part of a showcase of student films at the Estes Park Film Festival in Colorado.

“We applied to 10 festivals and Estes was the first we heard from, so we’re one for one,” says Sierra, 26, who grew up in Denver and got his undergraduate degree in video production from Metropolitan State College of Denver. He’s now working on his thesis film, which he describes as an experimental documentary about Denver at night. Whether or not Right Click > Find Date opens any doors for him, he plans to keep making movies after he gets his film degree from DU.

“My dream job is just to keep working,” he says. “Even if I’m working as a security guard, as long as I’m still making films and people in Denver know me … it’s not necessarily about making money, it’s about making films.”

And his advice for those thinking about signing up for online dating?

“Spread out the websites — don’t just spend your time on one — and if possible, be a girl.”

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