FRUITVALE, a drama based on a real-life shooting at an Oakland BART station, won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Ryan Coogler wrote and directed the movie, which was produced by Academy-Award winning actor, Forest Whitaker. The movie filmed in the San Francisco Bay Area over the Summer, and a number of recent SFSDF graduates worked on the award-winning movie as part of program coordinated by SFSDF and Fog City Pictures.
One of those graduates, Class 13 alumni Tyrone Hutton, watched the Sundance Festival awards live via streaming video. “I felt like I was almost there. You get that adrenaline rush and an overflow of emotion – happiness, nerves and relief all at the same time. I wanted to jump up and start yelling when FRUITVALE won!” Tyrone had enjoyed a successful career in the high tech aerospace industry before deciding he wanted to become a filmmaker. He joined SFSDF’s 15-Month Digital Filmmaking Program in 2011, working during the day and going to school part-time in the evening. “It’s amazing to be recognized for your hard work. You put your heart into something, and to know that your peers enjoyed it and were appreciative,” say Hutton, “it’s an amazing feeling.”
Tyrone worked for six weeks on FRUITVALE as the Assistant Production Office Coordinator, a key position, and reported directly to the films’ producers. Other SFSDF grads who worked on the movie were Robbie Gomez, who also worked in the production office, and David Yee, who work on set in the Art Department.
SFSDF is the only school in the country that offers students in its’ Digital Filmmaking Program the unique opportunity to work with professionals on feature films shot in and around San Francisco. FRUITVALE is the 9th feature film in the past seven years that SFSDF students and graduates have worked on as part of this program. SFSDF Founder and President, Jeremiah Birnbaum, explains, “Giving our students the chance to work with professionals on a real movie set is a huge advantage for them. They get incredibly practical experience, contacts in the industry that often lead to jobs, and a credit on a feature film.” Birnbaum adds, “I’m so proud of the students that worked on FRUITVALE. For their first feature film experience to be this successful is fantastic.”
Previous SFSDF students and grads have worked on feature films that have been shown at festivals around the world, released in theaters, and on DVD and VOD.