Professor Amy Hesketh’s Latest Film, Pygmalion, Premieres in Bolivia
Amy Hesketh wears many hats on film sets: sometimes directing from behind the camera or acting in front of it, often as the script’s writer, and always as a teacher.
“I run my film sets like a learning opportunity,” said Amy, a film teacher at OC, and the coordinator of the OC Film School.
Anyone who wants to gain experience on set, and add a film credit to their resume, is invited.
The interns on the set of zir latest film, "Pygmalion," learned a lesson in handling snafus. One sunny day, while filming on location at the central train station in La Paz, Bolivia, an artificial rain-producing truck didn’t show up as planned. Rain was critical to the scene, and it couldn’t be filmed in sunshine. So Amy and the producers wrote the problem into the scene—the characters, who were themselves making a movie, would be stood up by their own rain truck. It’s one of several meta moments throughout Pygmalion.
Amy recently returned to Bolivia for the film’s March 22 premiere at Cinemateca Boliviana in La Paz. The film was created by Pachamama Films, a Bolivian production company. It was written by Jac Avila, and Amy co-produced, directed and acted in it.
Filming wrapped up in 2015. Then it went to post-production, which lasted more than a year due to the complicated nature of the film
“I did something radical with the interpretation of the script. It was a film within a film within a film,” Amy said.
The film hit the festival circuit and was primed for a premiere, then the pandemic began and the premiere was cancelled.
Three years later, at the film’s long belated premiere, Amy breathed a sigh of relief as audiences laughed and gasped at all the right places.
“A lot of films I make are controversial or polemic,” zie said. “This is one of the few films I’ve made where people generally liked it.”
Amy first got interested in film at age 6, after being deeply spooked by the movie Fright Night. That interest eventually led zir to the art and film programs at Bard College and then to a French study abroad program through Goddard College. After working in film in France, then Boston, Amy moved to Bolivia.
While working on a feature film there, zie had the opportunity to work with interns, and that sparked a passion for teaching. “It came naturally to me. I was sharing something I love with other people who also love it,” zie said.
That passion eventually brought Amy to OC, where students benefit from having a teacher who brings current industry knowledge to the classroom. According to Amy, working in film is critical to teaching it because the industry is always changing and evolving.
Some of those changes are technological, with a constant rotation of new state of the art cameras. Other changes are economic; sometimes film jobs are concentrated in producing short form content or features, and at other times the jobs are pooled in making commercials or industrial training videos. Many OC film alumni go on to work for big corporations like Microsoft. As the industry shifts, Amy’s aim is to make the OC Film School a supportive launchpad that points students toward entry-level opportunities.
And Amy’s teaching experience trickles back onto the sets of films like Pygmalion, where people new to the industry are invited to work and learn.
“Historically, many people have had bad experiences breaking into film.” zie said. “That’s why I, and others, have been working to change the industry, to make it a lot friendlier.”
OC offers a certificate, associate and bachelor’s degree in filmmaking. Visit the OC Film School webpage to find out more.