A chance meeting and a simple sneeze led a Canada College multimedia student to produce a five-minute film that will be featured at the Cannes Film Festival in France in May.
Sir Wade Neistadt (Sir is his first name) was notified recently that his short film, "KERFLOOEY," is one of 26 student-produced films that will be featured in the Short Film Corner, one of three main sections of the festival. In addition, his film, written by fellow student Melissa Loi, will be featured at Universal Studios in Hollywood in June as part of a three-day red carpet event when industry professionals host workshops and network with student filmmakers from around the country.
The idea for the film came from Mr. Neistadt and Ms. Loi. "When I met Wade he was trying to add the psychology class I was already registered for," Ms. Loi said. "He came into class and sneezed. I said 'bless you.' We paired up and became friends."
Mr. Neistadt, who grew up in Apple Valley and attended Granite Hills High School, transferred to Canada from CSU San Marcos because he wanted to be in Silicon Valley to pursue his dream of making films. "I researched community colleges in the area and Canada was the only school with both a good computer science program and multimedia program," he said.
He began refining his video editing and special effects skills under the tutelage of Canada faculty, who have worked at major studios such as Disney, Pixar and Wildbrain.
"The storytelling the faculty has done over the years for those studios is experience that a motivated student can draw from," said Paul Naas, program coordinator for the multimedia art and technology program.
When Mr. Neistadt learned last November that Campus MovieFest, a student film festival, would be at Canada College to host a competition, he decided to enter. He ran into Ms. Loi, a graduate of Carlmont High School, who had an idea.
"I thought it would be cool to make a movie about a superhero, since everyone seems obsessed with comic book characters ... but maybe a superhero that can't quite save the world at the moment."
The character Manly Man was born but, unlike most superheroes, he wasn't invincible. He was fighting a cold at the same time he was battling the fearsome Madame Mayhem.
As the story unfolds, every Manly Man sneeze brings Madame Mayhem closer to defeat while giving Mr. Neistadt an opportunity to display the special effects skills he refined in his multimedia classes.
"Melissa wrote the story and it was brilliant," Mr. Neistadt said. "I couldn't have made this movie without her."
They entered their film in the Campus MovieFest competition at Canada and received a Silver Tripod Award for "Best Special Effects," a Best Actor Award for Mr. Neistadt's portrayal of Manly Man, and, to their amazement, the Best Picture Award.
"At the campus awards ceremony, we were told that Campus MovieFest has the opportunity to send about 30 student films to the Cannes Film Festival," Mr. Neistadt said. "I was shocked to find out our film was chosen."
Manly Man's sneezes will lead Mr. Neistadt to the Villa Maupassant Hotel in the south of France May 12-26 for the film festival. "I still can't believe this is happening," he said.
Go to tinyurl.com/Manly-362 to see the film on YouTube.