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Cover of the Fall/Winter 2003 SFSU Magazine. Photo of Professor and talk radio show host, Michael Krasny.

 

SFSU Magazine Online, Spring/Summer 2003, Volume 3, Number 2.

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Presidential Scholars Kit Fox and John Dilley seated next to each other at San Francisco’s Embarcadero.

A Lasting Connection

Although he hit the books in high school, John Dilley (B.A., '02) admits he only skimmed the paperwork when he applied to the Presidential Scholars program. He was more focused on becoming a filmmaker, and SFSU's cinema department, he knew, had an outstanding reputation.

After he was accepted, Dilley learned at an orientation about the extra help he'd receive with scheduling classes, the cultural outings and the chance to get to know his fellow scholars, many of whom would be living on the same floor in his dorm.

"I remember looking at my mom and mouthing 'Oh, my God,'" Dilley says.

The program helped him in a lot of ways, but his friendship with fellow Presidential Scholar Kit Fox (B.A., '03) was the biggest benefit, he says.

Fox agrees. "We really enjoyed each other's sense of humor," he says. The two spent a lot of time talking about movies and eventually, Fox says, Dilley inspired him to pursue a second major in cinema in addition to his coursework in Japanese.

Fox worked as the producer of Dilley's thesis project, a short film titled "Little Failures," which appropriately enough is about making connections.

Fox handled the behind-the-scenes details, from ordering actors' lunches to making sure the camera batteries were charged. "I couldn't have made the film without Kit," Dilley says. "He became one of my closest friends and my producer—you can't get any better than that."

With Fox's help, Dilley achieved his dream of making a film that would reach a wider audience than his friends in the dorm.

Dilley still remembers the call from Sundance during his senior year. "Little Failures" would screen at the prestigious film festival in two months, the caller told him.

"The whole time I was wondering, whose voice is this?" he says. "I was racking my brain, going through all my friends and wondering, who could be cruel enough to do this to me?"

Dilley was certain it was a hoax, telling no one about the call until a week later when he received an official notice from Sundance in his mailbox.

For Fox, the festival invite was icing on the cake. "I was incredibly proud of John's film before we got the news," he says.

Now Dilley can say he feels proud of Fox's work. Recently he produced a short Fox wrote and directed as part of independent study during his final semester at State. The two just wrapped up final editing on the film, which explores issues of racism. Fox hopes it will receive some local festival play this year.

Right now they have no plans of quitting the day jobs which support their creative endeavors. Dilley is a house manager at San Francisco's Film Arts Foundation, which offers classes and seminars for filmmakers. He supervises teachers, gives talks and helps filmmakers obtain funding. Fox edits Japanese comic books at Viz, LLC, a San Francisco-based publisher of Japanese animation and comics for English-speaking audiences.

Are more film collaborations in the works?

"Definitely," Fox says. "We want to keep the momentum going. The question is always what to do next."

If Fox's new film meets with success, the former scholars will only have each other to blame. The title of Fox's film is "Culpability."

-- Adrianne Bee

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