Everett Shen ’18 is the editor-in-chief of 151MM, PHS’ film magazine, as well as a filmmaker himself. He became interested in film after taking Film Appreciation class to fill up one of his requirements, and since then he has been involved in both creating films as well as critiquing them. Everett is applying to a few film schools, where he submitted his most recent film, Blue Varnish.
How did 151MM come to be? How was the idea introduced?
I had always [had] this idea of starting a publication. Me and my friend Sarah Hou ’17, we were at this interest meeting at Columbia … and we started just talking about movies — how I was interested and wanted to start a publication. To my surprise, she was in agreement. We met several times to come up with the name and the sections, and the overall ideology we would follow throughout the year. We started from scratch, because neither of us had been in a school publication before and had to learn design and Photoshop with YouTube. We wrote and designed the first issue, in its entirety, by ourselves. It was published January 2016 and we recruited from there. We didn’t register as a club until the first issue came out, [because] it was basically an out-of-school publication we did ourselves, and eventually when we tried to grow and expand, we made it into a club. Now, it [has become a] larger organization and a general interest club for film-lovers.
In your opinion, how has the magazine improved?
The variety of articles that we have has increased and reflects the diverse taste of the students at PHS. Our current issue… includes a character analysis of Mulholland Drive, The Emoji Movie, more standard film reviews, and even analyses of the current state of Hollywood. We’re trying to shift toward presenting new information [rather] than regurgitating stuff that’s already been said.
What caused your initial interest in film?
My entire film career is a happy mistake. It started in Film Appreciation, which I took in freshman year, which launched my interest for analysis, and film as an art form and a medium. I took that class because there was nothing else to take and I needed to fill [the credit requirement] up. And it [was a small class], but I loved it, because it really made me see so much behind each shot that I never would’ve seen before. I think people who don’t study Film Appreciation tend to miss out on at least half of the film. I never really expected to get into filmmaking. I was helping a friend on his senior project, and I was the assistant director and wasn’t doing much and [was] standing on the sidelines, but a series of incidents [caused my friend] to play the lead. And at that point, I had to be the cinematographer and I held the camera, and that was my first contact with filming something, so it was extremely serendipitous. And from there I started making films, but I never really considered it as a career until junior year, when I took Filmmaking. It was also a lot of fun, and taught me a lot, from the flo-mo process of filmmaking, to creating a script, to the shot-list, to the storyboard. I’ve made a lot of films since then, along with the magazine, and recently I finished a film, Blue Varnish, which I submitted to film school, so ultimately I did decide to apply to film schools.
Do you have any advice for anyone interested in going into film?
A few things. One, if you have equipment, lend it to other people. And if anybody needs help on a project, help them, give them your all, because that will ultimately pay you dividends. By doing that, you also gain experience for yourself. I would never have realized I liked film without helping other people with their films. I would also say [you should] make sure you want to do film and you do that by making as many films as possible. This really good piece of advice I heard or read … is that you have to make twenty films to make sure you truly know whether or not you want to do filmmaking [as a career], because before that you might be shopping, or still trying to get the hang of it, and it could be a short-term thing that you suddenly have an interest in.