By MILAN PAURICH
"Samsara," an eight-minute film directed by Youngstown native Vanessa Harris, was recently selected to be part of the prestigious International Festival of Cinema and Technology's 2002-2003 World Tour. Films chosen by IFCT screen in some of the world's finest theaters as a means of attracting both media and entertainment industry executives. Planned locations for the current IFCT season are New York City, Los Angeles, Toronto, and London.
"This is a great honor and a wonderful opportunity for my work to get exposure," Harris said in a recent interview. She hopes to attend at least one of the venues showing her work in the upcoming World Tour. "I've always wanted to see Europe," she added. "I guess I should go get a passport."
"Samsara" will have its local debut Saturday during the Flick Clique's film festival at YSU Summer Festival of the Arts.
Inspired by an Edgar Allen Poe short story, "Samsara" was shot by Harris during her senior year at USC. "'It was a major learning experience," Harris confided. "I had a miniscule budget, not a lot of time, and not a whole lot of experience. I had virtually no idea how to make a movie; I just knew that I wanted to make one. So I bought some equipment, rented some, and assembled some young talented people. It was a crash course in guerilla filmmaking where you're open to anything. Instead of renting an area and getting permits, you just show up and shoot till someone kicks you out."
Prior to its selection by IFCT, "Samsara" premiered on iFilm.com where it remained on their "Most Popular Shorts" and "Best Rated Shorts" lists for several weeks. It was also picked as one of the "21st Century Shorts" by Access-o in Los Angeles.
In 2000, Harris (who relocated to Southern California in 1989) formed Mill Creek Productions with her mother, Kathleen, and sister, Jennifer Harris-Tolkachev. Mrs. Harris is a Chaney High School graduate who taught English and journalism for many years in the Mahoning Valley school system. Former Canfield student and Smith graduate Harris-Tolkachev has worked extensively in marketing and public relations, and has acted in such films as "Primary Colors" and "Gods and Monsters."
Committed to writing, directing, and producing projects for both television and film, Mill Creek's first venture, "Blue Yonder Ranch," goes into production this fall.
"'Ranch' is based on a short story I wrote in college. Since people really responded to the material, I wrote it into script format and am currently interviewing potential crewmembers," Harris said. "I'm very excited, as this will be a bigger shoot than my previous efforts. This film will have dialogue and a typical three-act structure. The story is about finding beauty in the most unlikely places."
"Samsara" and other films will be shown at 6 p.m. in YSU DeBartolo Auditorium. Admission is free.