Film students show the meaning behind upcoming film “Sparks”

From+left%2C+Manhattan+Wood%2C+Luke+Thatcher%2C+Carlos+Costillo+and+Riley+Carter+start+prepping+for+the+scene+to+begin+on+Oct.+29+at+La+Playa+Stadium+in+Santa+Barbara%2C+Calif.

Claire Geriak

From left, Manhattan Wood, Luke Thatcher, Carlos Costillo and Riley Carter start prepping for the scene to begin on Oct. 29 at La Playa Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Claire Geriak, Staff Writer

At the beginning of the fall semester at City College, Stephen Da Vega’s film production class pitched ideas for this semester’s production. With a class of upwards of 20 students, one particular idea stood out to him. 

The story chosen was one of a Ukrainian female soccer player trying to receive a scholarship to stay in the United States, titled “Sparks”. This film juggles the intensity of teenage life and sports, as well as tackling the Ukraine-Russian Crisis. 

On February 24, Russia deployed its military into Ukraine. Death tolls are constantly rising with Ukrainian homes being lost, and thousands of people fleeing the country. This caused massive hysteria and alarm both in Europe and beyond.

The plot for the film was proposed by Vanessa Waldau – a 23-year-old City College student from Germany.

“[Germany] is very close to Ukraine, I was constantly affected by everything happening,” Waldau said. “Once I arrived in the United States, I noticed that the attention to Ukraine got less and less. I want to remind everyone that this is still important and current.”

Waldau is a marketing major and attending City College for just one semester. She decided to take the film class to try something new to see if she liked it. 

According to her fellow cast members, Waldau is a great director valued for both her strong authority and unique perspective on the war in Ukraine. Along with incorporating issues Ukraine is facing, they have also decided to donate any profit to helping Ukraine. 

Manhattan Wood maintains the cameras filter on Oct. 29 at La Playa Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Manhattan Wood maintains the cameras filter on Oct. 29 at La Playa Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Claire Geriak)

“We are donating 10% of the money raised to aid Ukraine,” said producer Diana Lopez. “This involves rebuilding homes, providing shelter, safety, food, and more.”

This is Lopez’s first production with City College. Growing up in Lompoc, California, she was interested in City College’s outstanding film production classes.

“I knew just by taking one look at the classes offered for my specific major… it was as good as I thought it was going to be,” Lopez said.

 For her, one of the highlights of this project is the level of respect between her and her fellow crew members. 

“We are treated like a real, professional film crew,” Lopez said. “We use a mix of personal and City College provided materials, such as cameras, microphones, monitors, and much more.” 

Actress Kirsten Hansen smiles and walks to her starting position to continue filming on Oct. 29 at La Playa Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Actress Kirsten Hansen smiles and walks to her starting position to continue filming on Oct. 29 at La Playa Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Claire Geriak)

The protagonist Marija is played by Kirsten Hansen, a Los Angeles-based actress. The Film Production class acquired Hansen using a website called Backstage, which is a casting platform to find actors, models, and more. Along with many other talents, Hansen’s experience with soccer helped her get the role of Marija. 

“I’ve always wanted to be a part of a soccer film,” Hansen said. “I am excited to pursue such an important role in this project.” 

Though Hansen is delighted to be a part of this film, she is even more enthusiastic to continue increasing exposure and education for the Ukraine-Russian crisis. 

“In the United States, this news lasts a few weeks,” Hansen said. “People post about it online for a few days, and then it’s gone, like a trend. It is important that we have Vanessa because it is very prevalent in Germany.”

A majority of the filming is done on the City College campus, mostly featuring La Playa Stadium. This film will feature both the physical and mental exercise that young athletes have, as well as the consequences for Marija if she does not receive her scholarship. 

Looking forward, the Film Production class is excited for “Sparks” features in local film festivals. 

“We will share this film wherever we can. We just want to get the message out,” said Waldu.

“Sparks” will be under production until early December, and will be previewed at the Rivera Theatre