Engagement in UTSA’s film and media program led by student urgency


Photo Courtesy of Max Acosta

Small group during production of a one minute short film.

Mason Hickok, Editor-in-Chief

It started in a GroupMe

In the days leading up to the start of the fall 2022 semester, students in the forthcoming film and media program were hard at work to start a club. Finally, in mid-October, the Entertainment and Film Club formally held its first meeting. 

Club president Noah Reyes described how students were communicating in the Film and Media GroupMe about wanting to start a club as soon as possible. 

The group went to Student Activities and began the logistical process of registering a student organization. 

“We just kind of came together and put all [of] our ideas together,” Reyes said. “[We] assigned our positions based on what we think would work the best, and we tried to enforce what would become the Entertainment and Film Club.”

Reyes hopes that people joining the club can find a sense of community and diversity.

“[We hope] other people bring their own experiences and own knowledge to the table, and we can learn from each other,” Reyes said. “And who knows, somebody may find their future career, which could set them on a really good path in life.”

Officers Emily Flores and Ireland Robinson discussing the film, “In the Mood for Love” during a meeting. (Photo Courtesy of Max Acosta)

To learn and to create

Vice President Emily Flores described what the early days of the club looked like and the conversations with the officers on what structure the club should take. 

“We talked about our motto [and] what we wanted the club to look like,” Flores said. “People wanted to learn, and they also wanted to create; so we came up with ‘to learn and to create.’”

Flores described that, at its core, the club believes in working together. 

“There [are] a lot of things that I think we all bring, and we all get to do together,” Flores said. “This club is a perfect example of students just coming together and building something beautiful.”

Students can expect activities all semester from the Entertainment and Film Club. The club meets in room 3.01.28 in the McKinney Humanities building on the Main Campus. Considered the “film production hub,” there are several adjoining rooms, including their equipment space. 

The club meets two days a week. Monday’s meeting would consist of a workshop or lesson, and Wednesday would be an opportunity for students to exercise what they had previously learned. 

“Wednesdays are definitely my favorite days; they are production days,” Reyes said. “I feel the most peace when I am working on something.”

The fact that the club met twice a week during their first semester was impressive. But, for Club Advisor and Film/Media Program Director Dr. Paul Ardoin, it came down to urgency from the students. 

“They have just done an incredible amount in one semester,” Dr. Ardoin said. “They meet twice a week, which is bonkers compared to most clubs. They teach each other things … and they make films together.”   

The splitting of the meetings mirrors the film and media program’s different focuses for prospective students. There are courses for those interested in history and theory, while there are also courses for those interested in hands-on production. 

The Santikos partnership

Vivien Pachecano on the set of her short film “Hong Kong Garden.” (Photo courtesy of Vivien Pachecano)

On November 30, 2022, student filmmakers participated in the film festival experience: their projects were put to the big screen. The program’s partnership with the local theater chain Santikos has proved to be an indispensable relationship. A fall screening was held at the Palladium movie theater and showcased films from students at UTSA, SAY Sí, the Alamo Colleges District and the North East School of the Arts

Vivien Pachecano, a senior majoring in film and media studies, was one of several UTSA students who showed her first film at the screening. Pachecano, like many students, took film-adjacent courses before the program was officially offered to students last fall. Taking a Digital Video Production course taught by Adam Rocha — the founder of the San Antonio Film Festivalallowed her to make and screen her first short film, “Hong Kong Garden.”

Pachecano believes the partnership between Santikos and the film and media program is critical to student success.

“UTSA and Santikos just want to make students and education its top priority,” Pachecano said. “So giving students the opportunity to have something to look forward to, and have their films screened, is so cathartic in a way.”

Students entering the film program can now see a concept from start to finish through screenwriting and production courses. And, by way of collaboration and networking, that film might end up on the big screen. 

The script for Vivien Pachecano’s short film. Pachecano screened the film as part of the Film and Media Studies student screnning at the Santikos Palladium. (Photo courtesy of Vivien Pachecano)

To the future

While still in its infancy, the film and media program is already equipping students with a working knowledge of history, production and experience. Recently, MovieMaker.com named San Antonio was named as a top city to live in and work as a filmmaker. For UTSA students venturing into work post-college, it is essential to have a foundation. This club and this program are giving students that opportunity. 

Reyes believes the second semester will build off the foundation from the first semester. 

“If the first semester was student-based, building each other up, [then] the second semester is like the sequel everyone loves,” Reyes said. 

Check out the Entertainment and Film Club’s Instagram for information meetings and events.