A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

SRJC student launches short film ‘The Process’

Courtesy Morgan Hamilton-Lee
The poster for The Process showing a blueprint of the office building and featuring the tagline “Support Artists!”

The set of a film production is a hectic environment; lighting techs working with an array of LEDs to get the right ambiance on set, audio techs checking each microphone to make sure the sound is crisp, directors and actors in tense conversations about how to bring a scene to life, makeup artists thoughtfully crafting the right look to highlight those strong cheekbones on the lead actor: the chaos of your favorite action movie pales in comparisons to the calamity behind the scenes. Santa Rosa Junior College film student Morgan Hamilton-Lee seeks to bring that calamity to light with his latest short film entitled, “The Process.” 

The movie takes place on a studio set and follows a director, played by Hamilton-Lee as he checks in with his cast and crew. Things aren’t going as planned, but that’s par for the course on a movie set.

The movie’s style was inspired by movies like “1917,” “Birdman” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope” where the film style mirrors Aaron Sorkin’s walk-and-talk technique. Hamilton-Lee was inspired when he watched “Birdman” and knew immediately that he wanted to film something in that same style. When his friends told him that they had access to an office space, Hamilton-Lee said, “I wanted to see what I can do,” and the rest is history.

It wasn’t always this simple for Hamilton-Lee though. He says his first project was a movie he made with his friends when he was fresh out of high school, “like everyone does when they know they want to make movies.” Since then he’s been involved in over 100 short films and said, “I don’t see a life outside of production for me.” 

He joined the Junior College in 2014 and took screenwriting classes as well as media 20. He didn’t initially consider getting a

Morgan Hamilton-Lee walks the director of photography through a scene in his short film “The Process.” (Courtesy Morgan Hamilton-Lee)

degree, but since those initial classes he’s been with the college for 8 years and is chipping away at his Associate’s Degree. When speaking on his time at the college he said, “I’ve been floored by the latest generation of film students.” He’s impressed not only by their tenacity but the impressive portfolios they often enter the program with.

Most of his projects have been through the junior college, but he’s worked on three short films with a budget that he’s quite proud of. “I would say I am proudest of this one,” said Hamilton-Lee. He chalks up that feeling to the amount of time and energy put into the script, the reception it’s gotten, and the donations he’s received. 

On the subject of donations, he is 63% of the way to his funding goal on Seed & Spark. The movie has been fully filmed and edited, but the actors need to be paid. Hamilton-Lee said, “I’ve made so many movies where people haven’t gotten paid or expected to get paid later and then I couldn’t, at this point in my career I’m not comfortable with doing that anymore.” He not only needs to pay his cast and crew, but he also needs to pay festival fees to get his movie in front of a wider audience and for that he needs help. 

Hamilton-Lee ended the interview with the mantra that carried him into and throughout this project, the same phrase that appears on “The Project’s” poster: Support artists.

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About the Contributor
Rosemary Cromwell
Rosemary Cromwell, Reporter
(they/she) First year reporter with the Oak Leaf, but not new to the Journalism field. Working towards transferring to a 4 year university by next fall to major in Journalism.

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