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May 4, 2009

Alex Richanbach

Summer Program Alumnus Finds Festival Success

By Teresa Lo

Many people think of summer as the season to kick back and chill out. But aspiring filmmaker Alex Richanbach used his time at the School of Cinematic Arts 2008 Summer Program to shoot Stealing Second, a comedy which has landed in three major film festivals and opened doors to a career in cinema.

Alex Richanbach checks playback on the set of Stealing Second, which he shot in the Summer Program and then took out onto the festival circuit.
The 12-minute project, which Richanbach describes as "a relationship comedy about dating in college," premiered on February 19 at the NYC Downtown Short Film Festival and on February 27 it screened the Beverly Hills Short Film Festival. Accepted as an official selection in the 2009 Palm Beach International Film Festival, Stealing Second also unspooled at the Lake Worth Playhouse on April 25.

Richanbach, who lives in New York City, shot Stealing Second in Los Angeles during the summer of 2008. The crew consisted of women and men from both the SCA full-time program and the Summer Program. The producer, Lindsay Burton, earned her B.A. in production in 2008. Richanbach met the director of photography Jonathan Nicholas during their time at the program and first assistant director Edward Osei-Gyimah was one of the student assistants that summer.

Richanbach realized he wanted to be a filmmaker during his junior year at the University of Oregon in Eugene. Majoring in history, he took a survey of film class there and some creative writing courses, but wanted to learn more about making cinema. A family friend recommended that he apply to the Summer Program.

"My time there was the only hands-on education in production I had ever had," Richanbach said. "Everything I had done before USC was just me and a camcorder, and the technical jargon was foreign to me."

The program, which offers courses ranging from six to seven weeks during two sessions from May through August, draws its faculty from the SCA roster as well as other industry-working professionals. The instructors have extensive experience in all facets of the cinematic arts, including writing, directing, producing, editing, animation and marketing. Summer Program students have access to the same equipment, facilities and resources as full-time students and all courses offer transferable elective university credits.
Chris Courtney (Casey), Lani Nishiyama (Karina), Richanbach rehearse camera posiitioning during a scene in Stealing Second.

"We've designed our curriculum so that people with different levels of experience—from those already working in the industry who want to gain more knowledge to those who have an interest in film but no production experience—can dramatically improve their skills and understanding," Summer Program Director David Weitzner said.

"The experience was invaluable," Richanbach said. "In those six weeks, I learned everything from how to produce, to how to direct, to how to work together on a set. I realized during that summer that I could make a career in film, and that I could make it in Los Angeles."

In addition to taking the short out on the tour circuit, Richanbach is now focusing on fleshing out Stealing Second.

"I plan on continuing to make films," Richanbach said.  "I'm preparing the Stealing Second feature and hope to begin production on that in the next few months."