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Cinema grad feels 'Twitch' for Hollywood

June 17, 2005

Photo of Sean WarnerWhile many new graduates are still mulling over their vacation plans or filling out job applications, cinema graduate Sean Warner is off to Hollywood to start his own production company.

"A lot of my friends are going backpacking over the summer after they graduate, and I really love to do that; but the iron's hot -- I've got to go for it," Warner says. "This is something that I've been training and working my whole life toward, to be in the industry and making films."

Warner, who cites director David Fincher and writer/producer Charlie Kaufman as influences, says his love for the movies started at 5, watching "Singin' In the Rain" with his father, who taught in SFSU's MBA Program.

"I've always wanted to be a producer because I wanted to develop stories and be intricately involved in all aspects of a film from beginning to end," Warner said.

As a producer, Warner oversees the entire filmmaking process from inception to completion -- including initiating story ideas, raising funds, hiring key personnel and arranging distribution of the film.

Warner will set up his new production company, Primary Films Inc., in Los Angeles, putting one of his cinema professor's philosophies into practice: "It's not what you use; it's how you use it." Working with a limited budget and lower-end equipment, Warner will tap into essential skills for an independent producer that he learned at SFSU -- how to adapt to different situations and make the best of what he's given.

This 22-year-old producer already has seven projects to his name. His most recent production "Twitch," is a short film about a girl and her conflicted relationship with her disabled mother. It won the Grand Jury prize at the 2005 Slamdance Film Festival and was a regional finalist for the Student Academy Awards.

“Twitch” also screened this month at the Cannes Film Festival. Warner earned a 1500-euro scholarship to attend Film Program Cannes, an intensive workshop held during the Cannes Market and Film Festival, where film studio executives scout for potential films for nationwide and international distribution. The workshop provided film producers and executives with a working understanding of the contemporary film market.

Warner, 23, was born in San Francisco and grew up in Columbia, Mo. He returned to San Francisco to attend SFSU's Cinema Department because of his love for the city and its culture.

"I'm a firm believer that for your undergraduate education, your social environment will have as much effect on your education as your academic environment," Warner says. "I'm a very hedonistic person and coming to San Francisco, I was just like, 'This is it.'"

"Sean has consistently shown an aptitude for the business of motion pictures," says Raymond Rea, Cinema Department production coordinator. "His hard work, creative insight and responsibility as a producer have led him to new opportunity. I have no doubt that he is one of the SFSU cinema students who will make the leap to industry professional."

Warner recognizes the competitiveness of the film industry but is optimistic and has high hopes for the future.

"I want to be able to make any film I want, be respected as a filmmaker and I want a person in every country around the world to have seen my film and say, 'Ah, that's great,'" Warner says. "It's going to be tough and I have a lot of work to do but I'm graduating now."

-- Student Writer Audrey Tang with Matt Itelson


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Last modified June 17, 2005 by University Communications