Jesse (1st Quarter, 2007)

1st Quarter, 2007
Communications Scholarship Winner

“My parents were filmmakers when I was a child and I traveled to and from a lot from Long Beach, CA to Hong Kong. I am half-Chinese, half-Caucasian and have deep roots in both cultures. My parents were a great inspiration to me growing up especially my mom who brought me on film sets and got me exposed to the film industry at a very young age. I settled down in Irvine, CA for part of elementary school and continued all the way through high school. My parents, Patty and Steve Morrison, have always encouraged me to do my best and I lived by the mentality of constant personal improvement. That helped me succeed in high school and ultimately get into the great school that I am at today.

After I graduate from Loyola Marymount, I hope to find an internship or apprenticeship that I can learn a skill for the movie industry that I am interested in, which is art department related. I hope to maybe start something here in Los Angeles, or move back to Hong Kong to get my career started. ”

A Portion of Jesse’s Winning Essay:


Even before I started going to school, my mom and dad told me stories. My mom read to me fables and told stories of her childhood. In ways I could not yet understand, my mom was trying to share her experiences with me. At that age, they were good methods of putting me to sleep but as I grew up and started going to school, there were stories that affected me and other stories that did not. The stories I liked had something in common where I was able to identify with the characters’ experiences. My mom’s stories of her coming to America with a thousand dollars to start a new life and get a college education made sense to me. Her stories taught me a lesson on perseverance, which in turn added to the building blocks of my character.

To satisfy my questioning nature, I asked my parents questions and usually the answer came in story form. My parents used stories to pass on wisdom and principles for my life. Stories are uniquely vital to the human experience because we learn about others and ourselves through the bonding of shared human experience, that lend purpose to our existence. Homer passed them on from one person to another before there was a Greek language. Christ preached them. Hitler brainwashed people with them. Steinbeck wrote them. Steven Spielberg directs them. They are stories. Our ancestors passed down the universal moralistic qualities to stories, which help us develop new worlds in our minds and complement the role of the storyteller.

Stories can be fiction or nonfiction, but the aspect of stories that I enjoy listening or watching is attaining new meaning in common experiences. Some great profundity can be the soul of the story, because when people relate it to human experience, their lives are changed. The most powerful stories link every person on this world together.

Through stories, we pass on culture, tradition, wisdom and values. The tales people tell, attempt to answer questions of our existence. They help us to imagine other possibilities and add insight to the unexpected. They teach us and mold us into human beings from the moment we are born, always influencing us until the day we die. Stories influence people differently, as everyone has their own interpretation that may transform the person we are. Stories have the power to captivate audiences, which is why people continue to read literature or watch films.

Storytellers have the power to convince people to see things from another perspective. With our amazing capacity for imagination, we are able to communicate with others and in a sense, enter people’s minds. The mind is capable of controlling emotions like love, happiness, animosity, or any other emotions.

Storytellers have the key to one’s mind because their stories can induce imagination and broaden perspective. To me, the core of a good story should be an extension of the mind’s imagination.

I once read a quote by a great film director, Kurosawa: “There is something that might be called cinematic beauty. It can only be expressed in a film, and it must be present in a film for that film to be a moving work. When it is very well expressed, one experiences a particularly deep emotion while watching that film.” This “cinematic beauty” is something amazing that I strive for in my own storytelling.

What was left to the imagination in the past, motion picture has revolutionized today by creating realistically what was only thought to exist in a person’s mind. We are able to go back to a land where dinosaurs roamed the earth, or take a trip in a DeLorean back to the future. I want to be the storyteller who can take the audience on cinematic experiences through the use of sight, sound, and motion.

I love watching movies with a great story line. I enjoy the fact that a good film can captivate me so that I can relate with the characters’ emotions. Films that touch the human soul are much more meaningful to my experience, which is what a good book can do as well. A good story includes characters that are realistic, whose journey vicariously becomes your own. The audio and visual effects of movies are great, but cannot alone carry its weight.

Films with amazing stories backed by wonderful visual imagery can really enhance the story like in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. Sometimes, Occam’s razor applies to movies where the most powerful images can come from a well-placed camera that may not move during a shot. When Kurosawa had a static shot on the ancient capital gates in Rashomon, this powerfully symbolized a civilization in decline. On a grand scale, the message of the movie embodied the characteristic of many great stories, with the idea that truth within a story is open to different impressions or interpretations.

In the original Star Wars, George Lucas uses the universal structure of a hero’s journey to captivate audiences like me long after the movie was made. Stories with reoccurring themes make them timeless. The ways characters battle and overcome nearly insurmountable odds give breath and dominant force to what we may think of as a rather common character type: an over comer. Creating the capacity in the audience to experience joy, pain, suffering or triumph with film expands the viewers’ awareness and seeds the bed of moral choices that on other days will sprout fruit of good and evil.

After visiting the campus, I realized that I could be the one who can create stories through film to change the minds and hearts of people. My real passion in life is filmmaking, like my parents, who had stories of their own. Although I enjoy graphic arts and visual effects, they are just tools to help tell a story but I want to create the story. Driven by my curiosity and my determination to make a difference, I hope my work will positively change the world. With skills developed at LMU School of Film and Television, I would recast the age-old battle of good versus evil, again and again, with powerful story and images to cause audiences to drink both the sweet and the bitter.

Copyright 2007, All rights reserved.

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