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Garzon ’22 Receives Accolades at Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival

Samantha Garzon holds a little plaque
Samantha Garzon ’22 at the Tampa Bay Underground Festival, where her movie, The Shutter, won the Best World Premiere Film.

Samantha Garzon ’22 submitted her student film, The Shutter, to many festivals — and collected just as many rejections.

She was ready to give up. Then she found out in November 2023 that she had been accepted into the Tampa Bay Underground Film Festival with two nominations.  

“I was surprised,” Garzon said. “Getting in and showing the film, and seeing the audience react – it’s nerve wracking. It was just awesome.”

Garzon created the film while attending Emerson’s Global BFA program in Paris, a joint degree program between Emerson College and Paris College of Art. Students spend each academic year in Paris and have four summer residencies – three in Boston and one at Kasteel Well in the Netherlands.

The Shutter follows a young girl as her past trauma manifests into nightmares. Garzon shot the film in Normandy, France, in Spring 2022, and spent the rest of the semester and summer editing. 

The Shutter won Best World Premiere and was also nominated for Best Student Film. It was played on opening night of the festival on December 7, 2023, which Garzon said was an honor in itself. 

Garzon’s senior year was dedicated entirely to her thesis film. She struggled at first to come up with an idea, until she had a nightmare about the 2019 horror film, Midsommar. 

“I’m a huge fan of the movie,” Garzon said. “So, I guess my brain one day was like, ‘Let’s make this movie, but really scary, [and as my own] version’.”

Garzon looks back fondly on her time in France. 

“It was an amazing experience,” said Garzon, a native of Miami. “It definitely humbled me. The culture is amazing, their lifestyle is amazing.”

After Emerson, Garzon lived in London, working as an editor and content creator. She then moved to Los Angeles after the SAG-AFTRA strike ended. While production still has been slow, she said it has been picking up. In LA, Garzon is hustling and working as a production assistant on numerous projects. She hopes to get funding and produce another short film within the next two years. 

“My main goal is to become a writer and director,” Garzon said, “but the goal [now] is to get on many film sets as much as possible as a PA, assistant or a production coordinator.”

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