Manipulating reality

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Gus Pewe ’15

Film has always been in Gus Péwé’s life. Ask him a line from “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” and he can recite it.  In fact, that was his first film—sort of.

“I was 3 or 4 and writing a sequel to ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,’” said Péwé ’15. “Before I could read or write, I would ask my dad to spell things.”

Not everyone can trace the roots of their desired career path that far, but Péwé can. The current cinema and philosophy major said that he and his cousin would film videos on a regular basis at his farmhouse. “We would make stunt videos,” Péwé said.  “He would be at the top of the barn, and we would stop the video and take a dummy and throw him out the window and have (my cousin) land in the same spot.”

For a young filmmaker, Péwé, 19, is fairly profound when it comes to the reason he loves his work:

“If you are a painter, you have the paint at your disposal to move around and achieve what you want. But with cinema, you have all of reality at your disposal.”

He’s also humble about his successes. And he’s had many.

Michael Tully of the Hammer To Nail Short Film Contest, of which Péwé was chosen as the 2012 winner, wrote that the filmmaker’s latest film, “This Vacuum Is Too Loud,” has great promise.

“This endearing just-under-six-minute short film is far from perfect, it manages to accomplish something that should have Péwé’s instructors feeling very optimistic. Made while a freshman undergraduate, Péwé’s film is a super-duper example of a class assignment made on a tiny budget that has something many professionally produced films at more widely heralded film schools are often missing: a truly distinct voice.”

Péwé made the film, about a non-earthling stuck on the planet with no way to return home, in cinema professor Charlie Anderson’s class. Péwé credits Anderson for helping him submit his project to the Hammer To Nail contest. Because of entry costs, Péwé said he has to be selective about where and to how many contests he submits.

In high school, Péwé submitted a film to Interlochen Center for the Arts’ Future of Cinema Film Festival. The prize: summer camp tuition.

Péwé won the festival, and instead of offering him summer camp tuition, Interlochen offered him tuition to attend high school there. He graduated last year.

“My Favorite Planet,” Péwé’s senior thesis film at Interlochen, will screen this month at the San Francisco Frozen Film Festival. It previously screened at the 50th Ann Arbor Film Festival. He won’t be in San Francisco for the screening, however. He’ll be at Interlochen, as an assistant teacher of animation in the Motion Picture Arts program for high schoolers.

Péwé said he hopes he continues successfully down the path that he’s begun. “I’d like to keep making short films and having success with that, and then somewhere down the line, doing a feature-length movie. We’ll see.”

If you’re in the San Francisco area July 14, check out Gus Péwé’s film, “My Favorite Planet,” at the San Francisco Frozen Film Festival.

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