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 Lights, Camera, Action

Student Makes Short Films at UMD

Leon Nyarecha
UMD filmmaking student Leon Nyarecha.
Images from Nyarecha's short film, Punishable Acts.

Leon Nyarecha, a senior, is using all that UMD and the multimedia hub have to offer to fulfill his dream of becoming a film director. Nyarecha is a Studio Art major with a concentration in Digital Art and Photography with a minor in Theatre. Although Nyarecha has been experimenting with film for years, he declared his major about a year ago. He said it took him a while to explore the university’s colleges and programs before finally finding the Digital Arts program where he felt he could pursue his film career.

“I first got into film a while ago. I studied as an actor but wanted to get more jobs so I decided to make it my own thing. Take things in my own hands,” says Nyarecha. Nyarecha took classes in St. Paul and at age 16 produced his first short film called Don’t Do Drugs. “I wrote and directed the movie, and it played all over Minneapolis which was neat,” says Nyarecha. Discovering something that piqued his interest, Nyarecha began making TV shows at St. Paul Public Access once a week. They played on public access channels throughout the metro area.

So far, Nyarecha has created four short films as well as advertisements for the UMD multimedia hub. His latest short film, Punishable Acts, was finished on July 15, 2010 for his Digital Studio II class taken this summer. “It’s a little horror film. Think of it as Kill Bill meets The Ring,” says Nyarecha.

UMD had a major impact on Nyarecha’s work. Nyarecha said, “UMD has all the equipment that I need and it is always available for free at the multimedia hub.” Although Nyarecha is building a strong list of work, his favorite project was a film called Mystery of the Golden Key made three months ago for his Digital Studio I class. “It was kind of experimental; I got to play around with different elements and it also offered me a chance to get feedback from my professors.” Several of Nyarecha’s film and photography teachers praised his work.

Nyarecha worked as production assistant for 23 days with a Duluth film company, 4 Track Films on The Life of Riley. Carrie Boberg, a UMD alumna (BFA ’95 Theatre) and owner of 4 Track Films said, “Leon’s awesome. He is so energetic, enthusiastic and a hard worker. If he doesn’t know what to do, he is open to being taught. He fit right in with the veteran workers we have, and the director wanted Leon there everyday. Whatever we asked him to do, he did it and didn’t complain.” Nyarecha believes that working with Boberg gave him more than tangible skills. “She taught me that if you have an idea, just run with it; be confident enough in your work and ideas and don’t worry about what other people think,” Nyarecha said.

After UMD, Nyarecha hopes to become a film director in Hollywood in the same genre and field as his idol, Quentin Tarantino. “I love his creativity and the way he presents his stories. I have that creativity too, and I want to put that on the screen.”

Nyarecha makes it clear that he wouldn’t be where he is today without UMD. “UMD has good professors. They know what they are doing and are always willing to help. They went out of their way to get me materials they thought I needed to view. Overall, they took the time for me. When I put in effort, they matched it.”

Leon Nyarecha’s film, Punishable Acts, can be viewed upon request in the multimedia hub on the second floor of the Library.

For more information on 4 Track Films, visit their website


Written by Caroline D. Kennedy. Edited by Cheryl Reitan.

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Last modified on 04/22/11 02:36 PM
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