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ELA’s 6 in 60 Gives Emerson Filmmakers Screenings, Support

Six men and women stand in front of Emerson banner in ELA building
Emerson filmmakers, left to right, Sean Temple, MFA ’16, Anton Lee ’21, Sophia Youssef ’13, Rachel Brunner ’16, Jhanvi Motla ’14, and Paul Boese ’92 at the annual 6 in 60 Emerson College Industry Film Showcase. Photo/Daryl Paranada

Anton Lee ’21 went through quite a lot to complete his short film, Far from the Tree. He shot it in Los Angeles over three grueling 12-hour days during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and almost passed out on set due to heat stroke. He didn’t even make it for one last setup. 

Then, he was robbed, and the laptop that was stolen contained the only copy of his short. He managed to track it down using the Find My iPhone app, got the police involved, and recovered it. Luckily, he backed up the project upon recovery, because the next day he was robbed again. 

Lee describes the film as one of the most difficult he’s ever undertaken, but easily the most rewarding. Far from the Tree tells the story of the last remaining son of a Taiwanese American family and how he must choose between his dream and filial duty. The film has been featured in virtual festivals, but it premiered for the first time in person at the Ray Kurtzman Theater at Creative Artists Agency (CAA) on April 9 during the 4th annual 6 in 60 Emerson College Industry Film Showcase.

“When I think of CAA, I think of the cream of the crop of Hollywood. It’s the biggest artists, the biggest names are represented here,” said Lee, who edited part of his film while attending Emerson LA. “To think that my film is somehow screened in a place like this…it’s an incredible honor and I kind of have to pinch myself to make sure that it’s happening.”

Lee was one of six filmmakers chosen among nearly 70 submissions this year. Emerson LA staff, along with alumni volunteers, produce the showcase. Aimee Rivera ’07 serves as chair of the 6 in 60 Committee and volunteers include Jason Beck ’97, Richard Arlook ’83, and Keila Brown, MFA ’22.

The selected films run the gamut: from the 19th-century horror folk tale The Thaw, co-directed and co-written by Sean Temple, MFA ’16, and his partner Sarah Wisner, to the dark comedy Good Grief, written by and co-starring Rachel Brunner ’16 and directed by Megan Chumbley.

“It was definitely a journey, a bunch of fun stories,” said Brunner, whose film highlights the absurdity of grief as a sober memorial devolves into family dysfunction. “It was so fun to see [Good Grief] on the big screen with a really kind, warm audience, and so cool to be at CAA.”

Temple and Wisner’s film shows the horrifying results of what happens when a young woman’s parents drink sleeping tea in order to survive the harsh winter in Vermont. They were originally going to film their short in 2020, and then the pandemic halted their plans. They picked up cameras in March 2023 and have taken the short to a variety of film festivals. 

“We’re excited to be part of this Emerson screening,” said Temple. “It’s the most connected to Emerson I’ve felt in a couple years [due to] COVID kind of stealing time.”

This was the second time that the work of both Jhanvi Motla ’14 and Paul Boese ’92 was featured in the showcase. Motla’s short, Raksha, played during a previous iteration of 6 in 60 before it crystallized into its current format. Her film, Mirage, tells the story of a recently widowed woman who leaves Mumbai to work at a motel owned by her cousin in the California desert, but not everything about the business is as it seems. Motla said she was most looking forward to connecting with the other filmmakers. 

“It’s great to be able to support each other. We all make so many films and there hasn’t necessarily been an avenue to share it with the Emerson community,” said Motla. “For people who haven’t had an LA premiere for their film, like me, it’s awesome because I can invite people who weren’t able to make the initial screening I had.”


Boese’s short, Jimmie on the Set: The Producer Run, is about a production assistant navigating the pressure of working in Hollywood. The character first appeared in Jimmie O’Brien Masterclass Parody, which was featured in the inaugural 6 in 60 showcase.

“As Emersonians, we love to create and we love when our work is shown in front of our peers and a group of people who appreciate the work,” said Boese, whose short was screened at only one festival prior to 6 in 60. “It’s exciting to see how the audience responds to it.”

After the films screened, filmmakers were able to connect with one another and other attendees during a reception. The showcase’s closer, Sophia Youssef ’13, soaked in the moment. This was the first public screening of Leaving Lebanon, which is based on her own life story. The film was produced by Disney & AFI as part of the Disney Launchpad Underrepresented Storytellers Initiative. It’s about a family who strives to carry on with life as normal while accepting that they must ultimately say goodbye to their home as war rages on outside their Beirut apartment. 

“It’s a really emotional experience to get to sit in a room full of people, watching them watch your movie,” said Youssef. “I haven’t been in a room with that many people from Emerson since I graduated, so it’s nice to still be a part of the community.”

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