T Q&A 

Stephanie Joyce was one of a group of UA students who were selected to receive an $80,000 grant from Eastman Kodak to produce a student film. The 35mm film, April's Last, was shot in Tucson in May, and will be screened in Los Angeles in 2007. She's currently producing two other films. "You have to pay your dues," she says. "Hopefully, if you work long enough for free, someone will say, 'Hey, this person is worth paying.'" She says she plans on remaining in Tucson, because "it's a really good, independent community for filmmaking."

How did you get involved in this project?

I was selected to be one of the two student producers who were attached to the project. The process started by the faculty in the arts department putting out a call for producers for a 35 mm student project. Through a rigorous application process--where you had to go to mandatory seminars to make sure you wanted to do this--I was selected. The initial crew was me; another producer, Joey Heslinga; director Joe Odea; director of photography Kelli Dickinson; and scriptwriter Hamdija Ajanovic. We're all students at the UA.

What year are you?

A senior. I'm graduating in December.

Congratulations. So what is the movie April's Last about, anyway?

April's Last kind of encompasses war-theme issues. It's placed in this post-apocalyptic reality. The majority of the script takes place in this shelter/basement, where about 15 people are there together, and for whatever reason, they are kind of the last stronghold of this broken city, and for whatever reason, they decide not to leave it. What propels the story line is that they run out of water, and so they draw cards to see who's going to go out and get the water. And whoever gets the joker card has to get the water, and unfortunately, this younger girl draws the card. Actually, the main character, he decides to volunteer, and go out and be chivalrous. He kind of has a crush on this girl, so he goes out and gets the water for her. And so, with a couple of jugs strapped on his back, he climbs out of the basement and runs across this really perilous warscape, dodging snipers and fire and explosions to go the water well, pump the water and bring it back to these people. The whole story is loosely based on the Bosnia-Herzegovina conflict, mainly being that during the time of that war, the biggest threat was the snipers. They would shoot men, women, children--they didn't care. Actually, we think it's just really relevant to today's issues. We are in the middle of this war, and we're kind of desensitized to it. We're not trying to glorify it; we mean to show that there's a history of this kind of war, this guerilla warfare. We've become desensitized by the media, and we need to realize that someone is still pulling the trigger, whether we're here in the United States making the right political policies, or whatever; someone is still pulling the trigger.

And it was shot in Tucson?

The first four days in Tucson were shot at the historic Dunbar School; it was (a former) all-black, segregated school here in Tucson. And the last two days, Saturday and Sunday, we shot it in Nogales.

You shot it in six days?


Wow. How long is it?

It's a short, so it's only 10 minutes long. But we did have a substantial budget, because we got sponsored by Eastman Kodak from Los Angeles. We got an $80,000 grant.

What's your background in film, and how did you get into it?

I'm a media arts student, and I was on my high school news team, which was kind of silly. Even before that, I tried to do anything that had to do with the media. I was a Public Access Tucson member and had my own show my first year in college. Simultaneously, I was a floor manager at UATV my freshman year. So I did a little bit of everything, whether it was TV or movies. To be a producer, you want to wear as many hats as you can, because if the director wants a certain location or needs something to be changed on set, it's the producer's job to do it. It ran really smoothly because of me and this other producer, Joey Heslinga; we ran a pretty tight ship. I'm really surprised how well it turned out, because it is a student production. But it's not your typical production in that most senior projects, they only have like $2,000 or $3,000 to work with, because they're taking out their own loans or credit cards to make the film, whereas we actually got sponsored--$80,000 is way more than your typical budget for a 35 mm film.


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