Los Angeles Times

Getting a taste of the big time

COSTA MESA — A Newport Beach Film Festival entry filmed at Orange Coast College gave students a glimpse inside the industry.

"Pound of Flesh," starring Malcolm McDowell and Angus Macfadyen and filmed by Los Angeles filmmaker Tamar Simon Hoffs, will screen at the festival May 2.

"I think that by watching any feature film up close being produced like that, the students realize two things," said Scott Broberg, OCC Film and Video department coordinator. "They realize how close what they do filming on campus and creating shorts is to what is being done in feature films in the industry. It gives them confidence … they see that they are almost there and at same time, they see what they need to do to actually get there."

Although the campus has state-of-the-art filming equipment, it's hard to duplicate everything that goes into the process of creating a feature-length film in a standard classroom setting, he said.

The filming was also a valuable opportunity for the department's production students — about 200 each semester — to network with industry professionals and build connections for a career after college, he said.

However, as valuable as the experience was to the students, Broberg said that the film's controversial subject matter does not reflect in any way the students or faculty of the college.

It was because of the film's risqué themes, which explore the implications of rising tuition costs and changing moral attitudes about sex, that Hoffs first debuted the film in Germany before returning to Orange County.

"I got a little bit of cold feet going into it," Hoffs said. "I thought, 'Are people going to understand that this is a serious issue that we should be thinking about?' "

However, to her relief, the screening was met with a standing ovation from the European audience, Hoffs said.

While Hoffs won't know how the Orange County audience reacts to the movie until May, the film received positive responses at the 2010 Hollywood Film Festival and was picked up by Showtime to be aired in October, she said.

Following the Newport Beach Film Festival, Hoffs is preparing to work on her next film, which she described as a ghost story and a supernatural thriller.

Her positive experience filming at OCC ensured that she would be looking at the campus and other sites in the county for her future projects, she said.

"You had a school full of film kids wanting to hang around the set," Hoffs said of OCC. "You don't see that everywhere. The cordiality was almost too much to bear."

If You Go

What: "Pound of Flesh" at the Newport Beach Film Festival

When: 7 p.m., May 2

Where: Starlight Triangle Square Cinemas, theater 4

Tickets: http://www.newportbeachfilmfest.com

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