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January 31, 2009

Charlene Sun '06

Artist, Cinematographer, M.F.A. Alumna

By John Zollinger

2006 M.F.A. Production Alumna, Charlene Sun, 34, who approached cinematography from the unique perspective of an artist painting images with a camera lens, died in tragic automobile accident in Los Angeles on January 27.

Cinematographer Charlene Sun, M.F.A. 2006.
Since childhood Sun dreamed of being a filmmaker. While majoring in Theatre Arts at Cornell University, she took every filmmaking class they offered. She joined the graduate production program in 2003 to pursue that quest.

Her skills and passion as director of photography came to the fore on three short films, Underpass, Meeting in Cars and Marwa. Sun, who was always willing to help out on classmates' projects, did everything from gaffing to driving equipment trucks. During her time at USC, she contributed to more than a dozen USC thesis films.

Fellow production alumna Rain Breaw, M.F.A. '07, struck up a friendship with Sun during an editing class early on in their USC experience. That friendship grew into a professional relationship after graduation, with the two of them forming SunRain Productions a film/video production and Web development company. Together, they created numerous short video projects and over 50 Web sites.

An artist by nature, Sun approached both the canvas and the screen as a space for extraordinary creation and expression.
"As the Sun of SunRain, Charlene was the perfect balance for me," Breaw said during the memorial service for her friend. "She constantly reminded me to enjoy life, and enjoy our work, and not take it all so seriously (though our perfectionist friend did put great seriousness into all of her work). She brought beauty to our work. Our styles were opposite and yet we had similar taste. She was the night owl while I worked during the day. We could not have been a better match."

In addition to being a talented cinematographer, Sun was also a gifted artist and an accomplished writer. She was in the midst of completing her second feature script with her writing partner, Steven Edell, M.F.A '08. They were currently taking meetings at over 20 production companies and studios for their first feature script Raft of the Medusa.

Arrangements are currently underway to create a scholarship at the school to honor Sun's legacy.

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