Some students wait a while -– say, until their freshman year or beyond –- to determine where the professional winds may be blowing. But that’s not Aria Haley (class of ‘22). The Las Vegas native caught the filmmaking bug early. Middle school early.
“I’ve been creating clips, videos and stupid movies since I was in eighth grade,” she says. “The fact that I had made something that triggered some sort of emotional reaction was compelling to me. By the time I got to high school, my film classes were packed with projects to accomplish.” She graduated with advanced honors and is a recent Fletcher Jones Scholarship recipient.
“I realized that what really appealed me was post-production,” she says. “The idea of putting the puzzle together — cutting the film and watching it take shape right in front of you – couldn’t be more satisfying.”
In post-production, locating the balance between the technical and the aesthetic is essential, she says: “You have to be technical in order to find the aesthetic. There is an art within editing but you have to identify what works best for the mood you want to set for your film.”
Having worked on film sets, Aria has applied that experience to assisting her film friends deliver some of their cinematography projects. “We all collaborate and help each other out, and we tend to have specific roles for each other’s films,” she says. “And acting as the director/cinematographer for my project, there’s nothing like having an entire crew.”
Aria credits Sam Kim, her stage and grip lighting professor, for serving as her film program mentor – “the first to teach me about all the basics of how to be/act on a set.”
Filmmakers are, of course, also film buffs, and the common denominator for Aria is a work’s ability to achieve what she calls “that ah ha!” moment, “where you finally have a full understanding of how the plot happened.” Perhaps not surprisingly, in the pantheon of directors, she ranks Alfred Hitchcock first, a place he has occupied, for her, since she first developed an appreciation for the art form.
“I’m most influenced by stories with depth,” she says. “Where Hitchcock, the master of suspense, is concerned, I’m always awe-struck.” She also has a soft spot for “The Haunting of Hill House” on Netflix and Robert Zemeckis’s “Back to the Future.”
Then again, perhaps it’s not surprising that this one-time middle school auteur is drawn to the Zemeckis film, the plot of which returns Michael J. Fox to, yes, high school.